Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Printing Insights #022

Digital Printmaking & Printmakers

"Nash Editions: Prints like Music"

Crosby & Nash Dec 2002 (Photo by Michael Tapes)

Report by Bettina & Uwe Steinmueller (1/27/2003)

Get your 2200/7600/9600/C9000 profiled


When we actually listened in the 70th (we were a bit late :-)) to the music of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young we loved the music but did not even know where in America these musicians live. Now some 30 years later we live in Northern California and Neil Young owns a huge ranch close to one of our favorite places: San Gregorio General Store.

Last year we heard the first time about "Nash Editions" and just the fact that it was the same Graham Nash of CSNY made us curious. The logic here is: If someone really cares about fine music and he also loves photography then the chances are that he also cares about fine art printing.

We got in touch with Graham Nash and he forwarded us to Mac Holbert. Mac is a long time friend of Nash, also his former road manager and runs as Nash's partner "Nash Editions". Then finally this January we visited Nash Editions.

Nash Editions

Over 10 years ago Graham Nash wanted to print some of his B&W photos (some without any negatives) and looked for a digital solution. They finally came up with the first fine art prints on Iris printers. Even the term Giclée was coined in their printing studio.

Nash Editions still have some Iris printers, but the main work is done today with their Epson 9600 machines.


Nash Editions is not a printing lab where you drop in your digital files and pick up your prints later. As described here this does not work for any fine art prints. There is a lot of work involved to get a great print from a digital file (most of the work done in Photoshop).

Nash Editions works with the artist and tries to capture the artist's vision in a proof print (on the same final paper and printer). The artist signs the proof print and then he gets his edition printed. The proof then stays in a dark storage and can be later used as a reference.

Our Visit

Mac Holbert spent 3 1/2 hours of his valuable time showing his studio and answering our many questions.


Lot's of photo books


We very much got the impression that Mac cares about photography and is open to many different styles. He understands to help the photographer to get his vision printed. At some point Mac mentioned that he looks for the "heart" in photographs and less for the technically perfect photo. To get this right, he is trying to get a technical perfect print but this print is always technically as good as the digital file he starts with.

Mac started our tour with showing us old and new prints. First we saw color prints and later lots of B&W. Mac believes that making good B&W prints is even more difficult than color prints.


Mac's Photography Shrine



Nash Editions use many different papers but most of them are matte papers. Mac's current favorite is the 500gr Somerset for Epson paper. The bias towards fine art papers is also reflected in two Epson 9600 running matte black inks and only one using photo black.

Print Making

Print making is not sending a file to a printer. Mac uses Photoshop since version 1.0. Mac is also conducting workshops on fine art printing and just after a few minutes we knew that he knows his Photoshop (we would like to learn from even more and we might join one of his workshops).


Mac Holbert in front of his Sony Artisan Monitor

The photo above shows Mac working with a Sony Artisan monitor (he loves the black rendition of that monitor and is not really fond of any LCD - including the Apple Cinema displays-). As expected for a digital printing veteran Mac Holbert only works with Macs.

Sample Print

Mac Holbert finally printed a sample from our portfolio on Somerset for Epson paper. As a great print maker he could not resist to tweak our file and we learned a lot in a few minutes.

Mac calls black the foundation of a print. That is why he would like to be able to better control the black in the epson drivers.


Some Details

  • Mac also shares the view that you can go as low as 180DPI for the file to print on the Epson printers. Matte papers work with 1440 or even 720 printer resolution (he mostly uses 1440)
  • Mac uses the ImagePrint RIP for B&W prints while he uses the Epson drivers with the Atkinson profiles for color.

The Nash Edition Difference

Nash Editions understand their work as a one-to-one collaboration with the artist. We got the impression that Mac Holbert has a good eye, great printing skills and is very open to understand the artist's message. We are sure that this makes a big difference.

Mac, thanks you very much. We had a very inspiring visit.
Nash Editions Website


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