The Modern Replica
Modern Replicas are very high quality reproductions of Ansel Adams images, available in multiple sizes, made using the most advanced digital technologies today. Each one is individually produced and inspected, assembled with the best materials, and designed to provide the most elegant presentation possible. Available exclusively from The Ansel Adams Gallery.
The technology begins with imaging, but the entire process begins with image selection. The Modern Replicas are reproductions made from original photographs hand printed by Ansel Adams, rather than from the negatives. This allows us to accurately capture Ansel’s intent when he made the photograph, including all of the choices he made in the darkroom – paper selection, burning, dodging, and toning – to achieve his “visualization”. We have chosen prints from the collections of the Ansel Adams family and the Ansel Adams Archive at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona. The exact print is selected based on the tonal values and clarity.
The imaging technology we are using is not generally available. It is currently in use by only three entities in the US: ourselves, the GettyMuseum, and the Smithsonian Institution. Every element of the image capture is carefully controlled and characterized – the image capture device, color temperature of the lighting, how light falls on the print, and colorimetric readings of the print itself. These elements are then processed with the raw image file using a specialized software program to produce the most accurate baseline image file possible. There is some modest ‘cleaning’ done after the scan is made, but this process provides a nearly 100% color accurate file across 100% of the image area.
The image capture is done in full color, because all gelatin silver prints will have subtle hues of cyan, magenta, and yellow that the eye renders as gray or black. It is only recently that the technology has advanced to the point that these hues can be replicated on paper without creating noticeable (and disagreeable) color shifts. Prior to these advances, gray scale reproductions could look good, but simply did not have the right tonal qualities to be acceptable for Ansel’s work. The printers are constantly self calibrating, and use 12 different inks, including 4 shades of gray. They offer a consistency from Modern Replica to Modern Replica that is unmatched.
Even in, or perhaps especially in, a mechanical process, quality control is critical. Sometimes the technology provides a level of QC that is acceptable, such as printers constantly self calibrating. Regardless, we eye-match every single print to a master and take colorimetric readings on a regular basis to validate the tonal qualities of the Modern Replica. Each one is inspected for other aberrations – scratches, paper dust, paper flaws, or general hiccups. Our standards are very high, and we will not offer anything less than superb.
The “archival-ness” of a medium has become a very important in the world of photography and digital imaging and printing. Many types of color photographs have had a tendency to deteriorate quickly, and early digital printing technologies could only expect to last 5 to 8 years without noticeable deterioration. Recent advances have lengthened the “archival stability” – measured by the length of time that a medium would be expected to retain its tonal characteristics – of certain printing media to over 100 years. The paper and ink used in the Modern Replica have been estimated to last over 180 years.
Display and Design
The design of the Modern Replica starts with the choice of paper. This is a heavy paper that mimics the look and feel of gelatin silver paper. We found in testing that it provided the richest feel and carried the image the best.
We have carefully designed the finished look and specified the material, sizes, cut, color, mount, and frame profile to dramatize each image at the size you choose.
- The Modern Replica is dry mounted to an acid-free foam core backer – the foam core provides stiffness and allows the print to lay flat with less chance of warping as humidity changes.
- The 8-ply overmats are museum quality acid-free rag board, also hinge mounted to the backer.
- The color of the overmat is specified based on the tonality of the image, for example, Modern Replicas with more of a vintage feel (Sierra Meadow) will have a creamier overmat than others.
- Each overmat is custom cut to reveal just the image, with a generous outside border. The size of the overmat is close to standardized, enabling multiple images to be hung together, but with some variation relative to the proportions of the image itself.
- The frame itself can also add or detract from the overall presentation. We have selected five different options to accommodate different preferences and environments – wood and metal, each with two profiles, and different colors. Plexi-glass is used to provide protection for the print during shipping and for display.