40x60'' prints from 35 mm.

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by fastw, May 4, 2013.

  1. fastw

    fastw Member

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    Steve Mc Curry is undoubtedly a great photographer, but offering such big prints from 35 mm seems pushing it a bit. Surely, the quality at such sizes must suffer terribly. I've done this with 6x7, but 35mm?. What do you think?
     
  2. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Which qualities?

    Does the composition fall apart? Color?
     
  3. AndreasT

    AndreasT Member

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    I have made prints in the size of 140x210cm from 35mm film (55x82"). Looks great.
    It may not be a good idea to make such a large print from the woman you love. It can look rather coarse but may fit well to streetphotography.
     
  4. darkroom_rookie

    darkroom_rookie Member

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    I did an RA-4 34x48" print from 400 ASA Agfa film using a Rodagon-WA 60mm on Kodak glossy Endura. It looked absolutely fantastic. Grainy, yes, but in a kind of pleasing way. The photographer said the print completely brought her about a decade back to the day in Prague when she shot it, and it wasn't a city vista, just a simple intimate observation of an unusual interior. Guess the overall "quality" was good.
     
  5. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    If people are buying them, it doesn't matter what we think.
     
  6. Noble

    Noble Member

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    Were those pictures taken with 35mm film?

    Your initial instincts are correct. I would hazard to guess that most of the better photographers on this forum would never make a 40"x60* enlargement from a 35mm negative unless it was some kind of special circumstance. There is a reason there is a Large format section of the forum and an Ultra Large Format section.

    My question though is what makes you think he is making those types of enlargements from 35mm film? I am no expert but I thought he used a 24.5+ megapixel DSLR and a 39 megapixel Hasselblad. I'm sure he has plenty of 35mm film images from back in the day but I didn't see any indication that they are available for sale in that size. Is there a particular image in his gallery that you know for certain was taken on 35mm film and is for sale in that size? Like I said I am no expert so someone who is familiar with his work would have to point out the 35mm film images that are for sale.

    From what I saw in his gallery I personally don't think his work would benefit from big grain. I'm not a huge fan of grain but it can certainly look good with B&W film.
     
  7. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I'd hazard a guess that you are wrong.

    Sure there are a fair number that wouldn't but so what?

    Not everybody sticks their nose up to the print looking for grain, believe it or not some people, especially buyer actually stand back and look at the picture.
     
  8. Noble

    Noble Member

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    Before you go off on a protracted argument can we at least establish whether Steve McCurry is even selling 35mm film prints in 40"x60" sizes? I mean he has taken literally hundreds of thousands of photographs (or more) and there are about 100 available for sale on his website. The guy has his own page on the Hasselblad website! Some bad information about the artist may have been posted on the internet. Why don't we establish the facts before we argue?
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    not sure why it matters to whom and why and how, and how much ...
    its great that people are buying big traditional prints!

    guillaume zuili here on this forum has been making very large 35mm prints
    maybe even the same size as mentioned in the OP ... pinhole negative, lith printed, 3200 speed ...
    and from all reports they are exquisite !
     
  10. Noble

    Noble Member

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    It matters. We should be telling the truth about people's art on the internet. I really wouldn't appreciate it if I went through the time trouble and expense to create a particular piece of artwork with what I perceived to be the very highest practical quality materials and then someone came along and started claiming it was produced with some other low cost common material. If someone likes making 40"x60" prints from 35mm negatives that's their business but if this guy is using a digital Hasselblad people shouldn't be going around implying it is 35mm film. Some of the 40"x60" source material appears on the Hasselblad website. Are there shots in the gallery that the OP, you or anyone else can say for certain came from a 35mm negative? If not then what exactly is being discussed?!
     
  11. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear fastw,

    Very often large prints are used where the viewer stands farther away. I doubt seriously that anyone could appreciate a 40"x60" print with their nosed bumping against it. ;>) Further, the loss of detail and print coarseness can actually enhance the image.

    My point is simply that there is essentially no limit if the result works for the application.

    Neal Wydra
     
  12. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Presumably even if the original is on a 35mm negative, this could then be printed to about 20” X 16” scanned and photographic interpolation introduced for making larger prints through digital output. But I’m not sure if the original post refers to just silver prints at that size?
     
  13. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    http://stevemccurry.com/fine-art-prints In his current PDF catalog available on that page (where he shows to offer 40x60 prints) the Women Gathering Clover photo is available, that was shot 1997.

    http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2K7O3R1PTTRR

    While not absolutely definitive, it seems the probability is truly very high that that was shot on 35mm Kodachrome.
     
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  15. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    No we don't know how they get from A to B.
     
  16. Noble

    Noble Member

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    I checked out the guy's catalog and he does market some Kodachrome images. I would have to imagine though the people that buy those 40"x60" images know what they are getting. They are fine art prints signed by the artist and come with a letter of authenticity... Which leads me to believe $$$. I can't believe outside of wealthy individuals or large organizations there is much demand for that type of 40"x60" print. I personally don't own anything that size and I can't imagine ever printing my work at that size. I don't see a lot of chatter on this website about printing at that size let alone with 35mm film. I'm certainly aware that people make billboards from 35mm film but that was one of those "special circumstances" that I referred to. What I said about most of the better photographers on this website is in my opinion true. If you did a survey of the forum membership and asked them whether ANY of their work had been printed at 40"x60" for anything other than advertising or some other special circumstance I can't imagine a majority of the people would say yes. And in the billion "how much can I enlarge x size negative" threads I don't think the balance of opinions contradicts anything I've said. When trying to figure out what formats to settle on I read a lot of those threads.
     
  17. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    If you're so hung up on a certain type of print quality that you don't appreciate a work of art because of a lack of it, then don't purchase the work.

    Everything is relative, and there are very many people who appreciate photography based on qualities other than graininess and resolution. I would wager to say that most people appreciate a picture based on content, expression, and how it affects them emotionally.
     
  18. Noble

    Noble Member

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    I don't think making an objective factual statement about the majority of the forum makes someone "hung up." If someone asks me why medium format, large format, and ultra large format exist I will tell them the truth. What I shoot and print personally is immaterial. Physics is physics.
     
  19. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Have fun with the physics.

    I wasn't replying directly to you., Noble.

    I'm just providing a different view of why such big prints might exist, regardless of what camera was used. Prints of that size can indeed be made from a small negative. I've seen it done, and it sold. It was a photograph of Mount Everest from a fly-by, using 35mm Tri-X. Printed by Pete Spilde at the now defunct ImageTech Solutions in Minneapolis. 4x5 feet. The buyer thought it was good enough, and I thought it came out really well. Probably couldn't have done that with an 8x10.
     
  20. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Noble you are making lots of assumptions without the facts, you have no idea what the rest of the forum thinks or if there is a majority on your side.

    The local to me photo gallery supports itself on selling work by the "well knowns" like McCurry, HCB..., regardless of what is shown up front. The grand majority of their revenue comes from new homeowners or those who have just remodeled filling their walls, not necessarily rich people, just comfortable. Empty nesters, retired, etc...

    Seriously, if you spend 50k on a remodel to repair all the wear and tear of 20+ years of kids in the house, and 10-20k on new furnishings now that the kids are gone and dogs are old enough not to ruin everything, what's another 2-4k for a 2-4 truly iconic big photos to enjoy and impress your buddies.

    I'm not to the point of printing that large yet but I have printed at that magnification from 35mm and it can provide some really interesting characteristics. What is special about that to me is that those characteristics are available to me whenever I please. Those characteristics aren't faults or defects, they are just characteristics. They aren't intrinsically good or bad, they just are.

    What I can say with confidence is that your definition of good work and mine are different. Heck my definition/expectations of good can change in the blink of an eye.
     
  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hey noble

    sorry to sound like a stick in your craw ( seems that we sometimes but heads here on apug )
    but i wasn't arguing about whether or not he used a digital hasselblad or whatever, i was specifically talking about
    his 35mm frames that were very large.
    and i still don't really see what the issue is ...
    if someone wants to print ( or have his/her work printed ) that size good for them!
    if they want to do that using old school technology ( wet darkroom ) good for them!
    if they want to use modern hybrid technique .. good for them!
    and if someone wants to pay money for these prints ( or look at them i n a gallery or museum ) that is great.
    i am sure the people buying large prints, no matter how they are made, know exactly what they are paying for ...
    for these people it is every bit an investment as it is something to look at on their wall ( or lend out ) ...

    so, it still doesn't matter one bit to me ...


    if someone suggested they were enlarging 35mm film &c and SELLING / REPRESENTING his/her work as that,
    but it was something completely different ( digital hassy as you had mentioned ) that is something completely different.
    its about trust, and it's not right to misrepresent one's work.
    one sees a lot of that sort of thing online ... digi shots with fake film rebates added post-production ..
    if this is what was being talked about in this thread, i would take issue, but large prints from film?

    i'm fond of pointalist and impressionistic paintings, whats not to like about that sort of photograph?

    john
     
  22. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    The High Museum recently acquired a 68x50 Silver print by Salgado which I saw last week and it is magnificent. Grainy as hell, but beautiful. I think the "Fine Print" aesthetic is pushed primarily by people who don't really have much to say in photography.

    As for quality, McCurry's prints are digital prints and not optical. From his Hasselblad page:

    Only a masochist would try and make a 40x60 optical print from a slide, and the results would always be inferior to a drum scan with digital output, no matter how skilled the technician.
     
  23. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    AA?
     
  24. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    Not Ansel, but the millions of Ansel wannabes who shoot boring photos with 8x10 cameras and then say "I shot it on 8x10!" as if that makes it significant.
     
  25. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    IMO AA did a lot for photography and taught us a lot but his standards and style, have for lack of a better description become a technical standard for his followers, some would even suggest that it has become a religion.

    I am glad to have the knowledge he provided but I have no interest in being constrained by his standards or style.
     
  26. Noble

    Noble Member

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    Don't worry about it. I didn't even notice. If I disagree with someone on one topic it doesn't mean I don't agree with them on a bunch of others. And I suspect a lot of the disagreements I've encountered are one's of semantics.

    I think in general I agree with you. The photographer in question is a big name photography with a business and a reputation to protect. Maybe my first post in the thread didn't come out right. My assumption when I recognized his art was that he knew what he was doing. I was just kind of thinking aloud and trying to figure it out. That's what all the Hasselblad, Billboard, rich people talk was about.

    I just think when someone asks a question like the OP having a more nuanced conversation and explaining to the person that there may be plenty of special circumstances where such a print would be made from a 35mm negative is more constructive. Someone's comment about me "sticking my nose up to a print" was ridiculous and misleading. I didn't mind it because I shoot and print multiple formats so I know what their prints look like, but I had to start somewhere. And one of the places I went for information when I was looking to move up in formats was this forum. Obviously if you make a 5' print from a 35mm negative you are not necessarily going to have to "stick your nose up to the print" to see grain.

    And you are correct there is a subjective factor in all of this where there is no right or wrong answer. I just think we can dispassionately lay out the objective stuff and then say there are a wide range of subjective tastes. Some people like it and some people find it distracting or whatever. I just felt people rushed in and I wasn't even sure about the veracity of the OP's statement. It turned out a lot of the images weren't even film of any type.