Many users love their iPad 3 for its high-resolution Retina display. With a diameter of only 9.7″ and 2,048 x 1,536 pixels it has a higher resolution than most 24″ displays used with desktop computers. Therefore the human eye is almost unable to make out single pixels.
These days we are quite a bit into experimenting with Harman’s direct positive paper. Which is why we wanted to find out whether it is possible to print photos (on real photo paper!) directly from the iPad’s high-resolution display without using additional accessories.
The single most important tool for printing photos with the iPad 3 is the pre-installed “Photos” app. With its help you can start a slide show in order to control the exposure. For this purpose you have to create several entirely black images with the exact resolution of the iPad’s display (2048 x 1536 pixels). Two of these are fitted with a grey outline around a centred 1,393 x 1,143 pixel rectangle, which is the size of the image that you want to print. Your photo should be of the same size, with a black frame to fit the screen. In fact it is a little bit larger than the 4×5″ HARMAN Direct Positive Paper (UK) now, but this makes it a lot easier to place the paper on your iPad. Set the slide show to a sequence of something like: frame – black – frame – black – photo – black – black. Unfortunately it is not possible to put the images into an individual order; the app always arranges them by date and time. So you have to create your files systematically or change the time code afterwards. Probably there is also a free app available that allows you to arrange the photos as you like, but we could not find it.
Into the dark room
First you have to set the display brightness to the lowest possible level, then set the slide time to 2 seconds and clean the glass thoroughly. After all, you do not want to have your finger prints imprinted, do you? For placing the photo paper onto the iPad it is very helpful to put on cotton gloves. Otherwise the slightest contact with the touch screen interrupts the slide show. After turning off the light in your dark room, lay the iPad on a plain surface and start the slide show. Place a sheet of direct positive paper within the frame and weigh it down with a book or something similar, so that it does not curl. After exposure turn off the iPad display immediately, take off the book and paper and develop the latter in Caffenol. Obviously any other paper developer can be used as well.
In the end there is…
…disappointment. Every photographer knows that a “contact copy” of this kind inevitably has to produce a reversed image. But we did not expect the image to be completely blurred. What happened?
A common deficit of spontaneous inspirations is that you do not thoroughly think through your idea’s details. The iPad display is covered by a thin but still thick enough protection glass. Therefore the light scatters and is diffused when it hits the paper. The result resembles a strong soft focus effect and leaves a picturesque impression.
With this outcome we unfortunately had to give up on our idea – as much as we loved it! Without optical accessories, printing images from an iPad 3 does not really work. Well – at least we tried.