Friday, May 11, 2007

Book Review - Nash Editions: Photography And The Art Of Digital Printing by Garrett White (editor) with Graham Nash, Richard Benson, R. Mac Holbert an

by T. Michael Testi ( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

We all know the contributions that Graham Nash has made to the music world, from days as a song writer with the Hollies into his time with Crosby, Stills and Nash and then eventually with Neil Young he has influenced countless musicians. But what is remarkable is the incredible contribution he has given to the digital photography world. Since 1991, Nash Editions has been a pioneer in the world of fine-art printing.

Nash Editions: Photography And The Art Of Digital Printing is a breathtaking visual experience of not only the summation of Nash Editions' achievements in the development of digital fine art printing, but it is also a treatise on the subject.

R. Mac Holbert first met Graham Nash in San Francisco in 1971 when he was an assistant truck driver for Crosby Stills and Nash. Both were avid photographers and the two hit it off instantly and soon became friends. By 1979, Holbert was the group's manager, and when he was introduced to personal computers, it changed his life. Over the course of the next six years he became well versed in their use. When he purchased a Thunderscan Scanner in 1985, it got Nash's attention and eventually lead to the two's introduction into digital imaging.

This is the story of Nash Editions. It is the story of the trials and tribulations that took Nash and Holbert down the road to July 1, 1991 when Holbert officially retired from the life of road manger to the management of Nash Editions. It is also the story of creating photographs from the technology of the time throughout the history of photography.

The book is laid out loosely into four sections, albeit with an artistic free-form flair. The first is an introduction by Graham Nash, who explains his background in photography. While I might like a bit more information from Nash's perspective, the book is really about the Nash Editions and how it came influenced the printing industry.

The next section, "The History of Nash Editions", is written by Holbert and it is exceptionally well done. He really explains how he and Nash came about to form the company and the history of the technology that they used to create the early prints, the problems they had with the existing technology; even to the point of voiding the warranty of a $126,000 Iris printer by sawing off the heads and repositioning them so that they would take thicker substrates. By the way, this printer was donated to the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History in August 2005.

"The Four Stages of Photography" by Richard Benson; the Dean of the Yale School of Art since 1986 and whose work resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, as well as many other institutions and private collections, explains how photography moved from the early stages of capturing light on materials of low light sensitivity through the process of printing systems using digital files. It is a fascinating account of the history of capturing images on media.

Henry Wilhelm's "A History of Permanence in Traditional and Digital Color Photography: The Role of Nash Editions" is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand both the history of photographic longevity as well as those who are trying to create fine art images with permanence. This essay is based on a much longer work; 758 pages, that was produced by Wilhelm and Carol Brower in 1993 called "The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs". The version contained in Nash Editions: Photography And The Art Of Digital Printing is geared toward the impact that Nash Editions had on the concerns of the permanence of high quality , large photographic prints on a wide range of papers and canvas.

Through out the book are photos and images from Nash and Holbert as well as many others. Sprinkled throughout are interludes featuring Nash clients such as David Hockney, Danny Lyon, Olivia Parker, Horace Bristol, Jenny Okun, and Darryl Curran. There is a piece on how Nash Editions, in collaboration with Epson corporation, put together an exhibition of Steven Wilkes work in 2001 as well as the history of the permanence ratings of select digital print material between the years of 1991 and 2006.

This book is a must-own for anyone who is serious about photography, fine art printing or just a lover of fine art. This book, if it were a little larger in footprint and hard-bound, would be a quintessential "Coffee Table" book.

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