Tell us a bit about ChauDigital and its roots?
ChauDigital has been around as a digital imaging specialist since 2002, but before that it was a dark room (Danny Chau photo labs) in the mid 80’s. With the advent of digital, things changed and we made the jump early, using one of the UK’s first Epson 44” large format ink jet printers from 1998, pioneering on-demand Giclée prints. When it comes to the fine art side, our machine is the biggest fine art and archival printer available. Then in 2002 the company became ChauDigital and remains a small family business, my wife and daughter together with myself.
Can you tell us a little more about the Giclée prints and what makes them special?
Giclée is a general term that a lot of people use for this printing process – also called stochastic. This is a process by which a picture is created using ink dots of varying sizes. It gives you better resolutions within the images – for example the usual go to is 300dpi, and we’re printing at 14400dpi. For Michael’s Mountains project the stock we print on is Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, which is 100% cotton. It has been around for years and the German paper mill even used to make it for the German mint. It has always been our go to paper.
What is the hardest part of the printing process?
I wouldn’t say there’s a hardest part, but it’s about making sure you get the basics right. We make our own colour profiles for colour conversion. You look at something on calibrated screens but still have to translate that to a computer print system and to what comes out the nozzles. It’s not lengthy but it takes care and knowledge, and the right equipment.
When did you first start working with Michael?
We’ve been working together for at least five years. When the book idea came along he came over and had a chat to talk about producing large scale prints. It seemed a perfect fit as we could provide fine art prints in the required size and quality and also handle the fulfilment side.
Is there anything special you do for Michael and his prints?
Because Michael’s background is in printing, he’s already very good with his files and this makes my life easier. They’re well graded and looked after so I don’t need to sort out highlight clipping and other bits. Occasionally after running a test proof we might suggest a few minor tweaks but this is something we talk and work through together. It’s a collaborative process.
What do you think of the prints / images that Michael produces?
The point of view that Michael finds and chooses to shoot from, beyond his technical expertise behind the camera, is pretty special. Some of the images are absolutely gobsmacking – when you see them as large prints they take your breath away. They draw you in with the amount of detail they produce. Certainly the camera he uses (Phase One) lends itself to this type of work and making prints of this scale.
There’s many favourites, but Furka Pass 2 is especially amazing with its intricate detail. The hotel in the middle reminds me of the Grand Budapest and there’s a Bond villain type hideout at the top. It’s almost macro detail on that print; the way the focal plane has compressed on that one just draws you in. I also really like the Grimsell Pass images – I see a serpent’s head lying on the top of the mountain! Sometimes I pick up on things Michael doesn’t see himself.
What other prints do you process?
We work with all kinds of people. We work with the Bob Carlos Clarke Estate, with Chris Levine (of the iconic eyes-closed Queen Portrait), and then recently with Turner Prize winner Keith Tyson amongst many others. But on the other side, we supply materials and solutions for other studios and artists, for example providing printing systems and colour management for the David Hockney studio – so we’ve very fortunate to work with such great people.
Many thanks to Ted, Vicky and Emma. Find out more about Chaudigital on the website – www.chaudigital.com