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Harald Johnson

Harald Johnson
author Mastering Digital Printing

As a professional photographer what made you attracted towards digital printing?

Digital printing actually revived my interest in photography. I had become bored with the look of printed photographs. Everything was glossy, luster, or matte. Big yawn. But one day I stumbled into a gallery showing the work of photographer/digital artist John Paul Caponigro, my eyes opened wide. Here were photo-based images printed on the most beautiful watercolor paper. The prints were rich and velvety, not cold and hard. I had never seen anything quite like it, and I was hooked.

What was your idea behind starting the Yahoo Group (digital-fineart)?

It was simple: I wanted to learn and share ideas about digital printing. I had recently joined a couple of other e-mail discussion groups, and I enjoyed the quick exchange of ideas and the resulting community that evolved around the groups' members. Why not start a group about digital art and digital printing? And, so I did.

Digital-Fineart is considered as one of the most popular and the biggest groups. What is your experience of running this group?

Although I guess I'm a natural candidate for running such a group (I'm a former magazine editor), I had no idea how much work it would be! Nor how many strange situations would come up. Believe me, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work and fire-fighting going on with the large discussion groups. And even if I think that I've seen it all, I know that tomorrow will bring a completely new challenge or crisis to resolve. But, overall, it's been a great experience.

Did this group help you to refine your ideas or to gain more knowledge?

Absolutely! There's always something new to learn, and the scope of the experiences and knowledge represented on a large group like digital-fineart is astounding. I highly recommend that people join and participate in these discussion groups for their particular interests.

When did you start thinking of writing book on Digital printing?

As soon as I realized that there was no in-depth guide in book form about digital printing. Basically, it was already in the back of my mind after I started the discussion group. I had ghostwritten several books and written dozens and dozens of feature magazine articles. I knew that I could do it, and that it was needed. The challenge was finding the time and then making the decision to go for it.

The book is full of research and power packed information. Please tell us in a brief how you started and how much time it took to finish the book?

Before you write a non-fiction book, you first have to sell it (to either an agent or a publisher), which becomes its own project. I took a few months putting together a solid book proposal. After a carefully planned attack on all the major publishers, one emerged as the top candidate, and I finally had a signed contract. The book writing and research itself took me nine months, and the whole project lasted more than a year. I must have struck a nerve since "Mastering Digital Printing" has been the world's #1-selling book on photography and also on printing for the past several months.

We can see three distinguish technology involved in this field. First photography, second, image processing and third printing. Could you tell us the contribution of each technology to get the well finished product?

You raise a good point, and one that I cover in depth in my book. I actually see the three digital workflow phases like this: (1) image input (non-camera scanning, camera scanning or photography, digital drawing/painting), (2) image editing, and (3) digital output or printing. It's all about creating and processing the image, and each step is vital to the final product.

Could you specifically tell us how much software, third party plugins and image processing affects the final result?

This is step two of the three steps above, and there are so many choices now, it's hard to know where to start. I personally use Adobe Photoshop as my main image editor, but I call on a myriad of other plugins or special applications when needed. Photographers, artists, and designers live in a great time full of wonderful choices!

One last question, How does your website ( fit into your vision?

DP& ( is the third leg of my information-packaging stool. It started off as a companion site to the book, but now it's starting to take on a life of its own. It's subtitled "a digital printing & imaging resource for photographers, digital/traditional artists, and printmakers," and that's exactly what it is. The thing that I love about web publishing (compared to print publishing) is that you can make instant changes or corrections. It's always up to date!

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