How much of a print to show

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by John Bartley, Mar 9, 2005.

  1. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    This thought has been debating itself in my head now for a long time. I see that most (almost all) printers crop the print (whether contact or enlarged) to remove the outline of the negative.
    I wonder if we do this because it's "expected" or because we've just never thought about showing the "whole" negative on the print or because we just don't like how it looks? Do customers (for those of you who sell prints) expect to see it cropped? Do they reject full negative prints?
    I personally like to see the whole thing, and I intend to start doing more contact prints, especially with a view to moving up to a larger size than 4x5 in the near future.

    I'd like to hear NOT what folks think I should do (I already know what I'm going to do), but opinions on the esthetics of a full vs cropped negative print and experiences on how they are rec'd by the consuming public (whether commercial or hobby audience)

    cheers
     
  2. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    And having posted it here in "contact printing", I now wonder if I shouldn't have put it into the "presentation" forum.
    (I have no objections to it being moved.)
     
  3. mark

    mark Member

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    There are two reasons I can see for keeping the edge of the negative.
    1-you want to prove to the world that you did not crop
    2-the edge of the negative adds to the over all asthetic of the print.

    I tend to ignore the first one, because I do not feel it is a valid reason. I do print the edge of the neg when i feel the edge enhances the image. The cool thing about enlarging is you are not held to the whole neg. You can crop.

    Since this is in the contact printing section I do not see much need to ever disregard the edges of the film because I know I am framing for a cantact before I take the picture I think film holder outline enhances the image
     
  4. George Losse

    George Losse Member

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    John,

    I've shown prints both ways, trimmed without borders and with.
    It's a personal choice you'll have to make for your own work.
    There is no right or wrong on this issue, just opinions.

    Understand that more people will question, "what is the black edge that doesn't quite go all the way around the image" then will know that its the unexposed edge of the full negative.
     
  5. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Hi George,

    Thanks for the input. I'm not really worried about the "right/wrong" issue, but I'd like to hear more about personal experience with how presenting a fully printed negative was received.
    I kinda' figured that the "lack of knowledge" would be the sticking point here, but i also wonder if folks would be interested in finding out just exactly what that "border" is?
     
  6. George Losse

    George Losse Member

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    John,
    Some have asked, but more were shy and didn't. Then later, when asked them about the work, they said they didn't like the "borders" and "didn't understand why they only went part way around the print."

    I have never had anybody say that they would or would not buy a print because of the border being or not being included in the print.

    Again this can go to the other thread about image content, but in the end what really matters to the viewer is the print inside the borders, not the borders or lack of borders.

    We should focus more on the image we expose of the film inside the edges the holder causeses. Unless you want people to be more impressed with the equipment you use then with what you can do with it.
     
  7. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    How much to show? Just the right amount? :wink:

    I think it's really a matter of personal taste. And, while composing to the borders of the film format has many advantages, it also creates limitations. Sometimes, the image is more effective if cropped to a non-standard size that better fits the subject matter and its presentation. There are some (both buyers and photographers) who identify with the "full-frame" school of thought, but I don't think that is meaningful to the average art buyer.
     
  8. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    I have a print I like in 4x5 and mounted it both ways. After living with it for a while, I've decided that a good clean print doesn't need or benefit from the unexposed edge of film. Personally, I now find it distracting and it does not help the image. If it is over-matted, things change. I like the idea of seeing that edge, just not as an integral part of the image for regular viewing.
     
  9. Joe Symchyshyn

    Joe Symchyshyn Member

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    Absolutely!

    Don't forget that the very fact that one points the camera at a subject and clicks the shutter the image is cropped already.

    I tend to crop in the camera for the format I'm shooting, but often do additional cropping to better serve the image.

    joe
     
  10. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    Personally, I think that the subject should determine the crop. If a scene creates a strong composition as a square, I'm not going to weaken it just because I took the picture with a camera that happens to shoot a rectangular format, or vice versa. I spend time judging the best crop for a print and don't really take the 'standard' film and paper formats into consideration.
     
  11. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Boy...I really do not much care for 'borders' on my photos. I don't use an easel for that reason. I generally will leave a border if I enlarge 35mm to the width of an 8x10, but I have no problem cropping either when I enlarge or with a paper trimmer. :wink:
    I like the feel of a 'full bleed' on the photos. Makes me feel like I am looking at a part of the whole, but not through a deliniated window. Just this cow-girl's opinion. :D
     
  12. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    For me this is more of an issue for hand coated paper. In my limited experience making cyanotypes and VDBs, the excessive border can seriously detract from the image but I do like seeing some evidence of the hand coating aspect. Sometimes the edge markings of a cut film holder and film notches also are distracting to me, but it's up to the maker to decide how they present it and "suffer the consequenses". All IMO of course :smile:
     
  13. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    what works for me

    I use 35mm. My standard printing size is as large as I can print on 8x10 paper with a little trimming thrown in..about 6-1/2x9-3/4. Almost all of my photos are taken in light that is slow to change of statice subjects. I like the proportions provided by the 35mm. I compose with great care. If I notice at the time a photo is being taken that the photo does not fit properly within the rectangle of a 35mm frame, I decide how I wish to trim 2 parallel edges after printing. When the print has been finished and dried, I trim off the frame edges and if I originally decided to trim either the height or width I do that. If I notice that the photo would be better by trimming the top, bottom or the leftor right sides I still do not trim it...EVERYTIME I LOOK AT THE PHOTO I GET THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE REMINDER TO PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT THE HELL I AM DOING. This practice has served me well. It has lead to a substantial improvement in composition. I do not second guess myself. I am not recommending that others do this...to each their own.

    When taking photos of moving subjects, my granddaughter for example, I will crop as necessary.

    I trim off the black edges of the negative projected unto the print because regardless of how nice it looks I feel that it is a distraction to the print itself.
     
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  15. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    Black border or not: this is a function of your vision. If you see your subjects filling the entire picture space and having internal coherence then the black border will be distracting. After all, when looking on the ground glass, you were not seeing a black border.

    If, on the other hand, you photograph more on the order of, say, Richard Avedon, where the subject matter of your picture is essentially in the center, then the black border is what keeps your eye from getting stuck in the center; the black border keeps the eye moving and helps define the space surrounding the central subsject.

    Whichever way one goes with this, one's decision to exhibit their photographs with a black border or not should be a function of vision and not based on an idea.
     
  16. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    Showing the unexposed edge of large format film in the print, with the attendent multi-width black border, calls attention to the process. (Hey look! My photography must be great because I use a large format camera and don't crop!) I prefer attention to be focused on the subject. As Michael says, though, some prints benefit from a black border. If that's the case, then I prefer a simple 1mm (or so) black border.

    -Peter
    www.desmidt.net
     
  17. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    If you are being published in View Camera Magazine, include the film border. Otherwise, trim it.

    -chuck
     
  18. photobum

    photobum Member

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    I think it's an artsy statement. The enlargment with a negative outline with two notches in the side say HASSELBLAD. I'm a serious photographer. The brush strokes on a Pt/Pd print say HANDMADE.

    That's why you can now photoshop notches or brush strokes. The digital types are feeling insecure.

    I glass rod and masking tape my Pt/Pd prints. If you want to see if they are real lift the overmat.
     
  19. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Well folks.........lots of opinions and comments out there. Not much in the way of experience with the reaction of "the public", but maybe that reflects the ratio of "hobby" to " professional" photogs here.
    I guess if I had to summarise the reponses, I'd say that most would look at leaving the border of the negative exposed as a personal "style", and not necessarily a marketable style or one that "the public" would understand at that.
    So........seeing as I do this as a hobby ONLY, and I've never been much for following the beaten path, I think I'm going to go with my original thought and try a bunch to see how I like them. I have a feeling that I will in most cases.
    It doesn't mean I'm stuck there - I can always change my mind later.

    cheers and thank you
     
  20. Rlibersky

    Rlibersky Subscriber

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    I cropped a 8x10 contact print down to 1-3/4x2-3/4. I took the original feeling it had the information to translate what I wanted. After finally getting to printing it a year later, I had to cut it back to get the origanal feel.
     
  21. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    I would venture a guess that even a substantial percentage of "professionals"** print to service their own preferences rather than anticipate what any given customer would say if they were looking over their shoulder in the darkroom. After all, if you're a 'pro', presumably the customer chose you after seeing your previous work which, presumably, you did to meet your own artistic demands.

    There are a handful or so of gallery types here as well as shooters. Perhaps you'd get more of the variety of answer you're looking for if you checked in the presentation forum. It sounds like what you're wanting to know is how much commercial appeal different borders/edges have on a print made for presentation or customer.

    -KwM-

    ** What warrants being called a 'professional'? Getting money for images? Making a living from photography? The approach to the art and craft?
     
  22. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Good question !! I guess what I really meant was "commercial" photographers (ie:make a living dealing with the public). I have absolutely no doubt that many "hobby" photographers (not counting me in there :smile:) do the job with as much professionalism as those who make their living at it.

    cheers
     
  23. lee

    lee Member

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    ** What warrants being called a 'professional'? Getting money for images? Making a living from photography? The approach to the art and craft?**

    the IRS says that if you get most of your income (like 3/5s or so) from photography you are a professional.

    lee\c
     
  24. User Removed

    User Removed Guest

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    I crop the tiny black borders off my 8x10 contact prints. I think it looks tacky and is just part of the process in making the image, and not part of the "final image". Like Michael Smith said, you are not viewing those black borders on the ground glass are you?

    You can still trim your print and not go into the image whatsoever, you just trim RIGHT along the edge of the black borders. This way, you are not loosing any image.
     
  25. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Crop until your heart is content. Don't we just do this with the camera anyway, when we compose a picture out there in the "real world." tim
     
  26. mmmichel

    mmmichel Subscriber

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    One interesting thing I've noticed in LF is that nearly everyone who uses Polaroid Type 55 prints the whole frame. Personally, I like the look of the full 4x5 frame (in B/W at least), but I don't think I'd ever try selling any prints that way; I'd feel far too pretentious.

    Still, it seems the edges may not just be for pretentious artsy types. I was surprised to see Robert Clark's images in the November 2004 issue of National Geographic printed with the borders.

    Melchi