Show on "Ovation" with VERY large prints from 35mm???

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by stradibarrius, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    I saw a show on the "Ovation" channel a few weeks ago about a photographer, I forget who, and his process using 35mm gear. He printed very large prints (24"x36" or even some larger). He had to project onto the wall rather than on the enlarger base. The show went on to show the gallery opening of his exhibition that consisted on probably 40-50 photographs..
    How does one get high quality large prints from 35mm??? obviously it has been done by many photographers. Sometimes as I struggle with my L/F gear I think, "my 35mm gear sure is much easier to work with!"

    I am not trying to start one of those 35mm vs. any other format discussions so please don't take it there. I am more interested in the base question.
    Also I am not looking for step by step instructions but rather some of the basic things needed to be technically successful when trying this technique.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2012
  2. Chris Lange

    Chris Lange Member

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    Careful printing technique, and use of the right film materials is crucial. I have printed 35mm successfully at 20x24, and had it look utterly delicious, with sharp, sandpapery grain, however it is difficult to maintain that look. A girl in my school has been printing on 40x50" sheets cut from a roll of Fomabrom FB paper, and her grain is mushy as hell, not pleasing at all. Shooting good 100 (TMX, Acros, or Delta 100) or 400 (Neopan 400, and TX, in my experience) speed film helps, and I would hesitate to attempt such an endeavor from a bad negative. I don't shoot TMY or any of the other tabular 400 speed films, just Neopan, and TX, occasionally HP5+ if I can get it cheaper.

    Make sure your enlarger is critically aligned, use a glass carrier, and a good lens (I'm leaning towards the APO versions of Componon-S or APO Rodagons, here.)

    While it is rewarding, you run out of room to maneuver very, very, quickly. I've been printing 6x6 Delta 3200 negatives at 20x20" recently, and while the grain is gorgeous, I can't imagine taking them much larger than 25x25 or so, maybe 30x30. That should be roughly equal to printing a 400ASA 35mm neg at 24x36".
     
  3. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Well, 35mm stops becoming easy to work with at large print sizes. Use a tripod, and set the lens at around f4 to f8, to minimise diffraction. Use film that gives a crisp grain structure, one of my favorites was Panatomic, later T-max 100. TriX can be surprisingly nice. Make sure the paper lies flat. Use a good enlarging lens, properly setup enlarger. etc.

    Remember that it starts with a good negative, and that every step along the line from negative to finished print is vital. 16" x 24" is about the largest I've printed that I've been happy with, and not many negatives will allow that unless they have been made with care.
     
  4. ROL

    ROL Member

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    For me, printing became so much easier once I left 135 and began 120 – at any size, undoubtedly the result of more negative real estate and increased density at equivalent enlargements.



    I don't know why the issue of maximum 35mm enlargement has come up so frequently of late, but suffice to say you can enlarge to anything you want as long as you are satisfied with the printed result.

    I have never been able to enlarge 35mm 25 ISO films larger than 16"x20" to my own satisfaction, but then my tastes run to the full tonal monochrome, which may begin to "pull apart" in very distressing ways when enlarged to 20"x24" or larger. Some compositions and subjects, particularly if less tonal, consisting of simple elements and a limited range of light (:wink:) will fare well to great enlargement, assuming grain is not at issue.

    To take a slight tangent and broaden the scope of the issue, digital enlargements from fine grained 35mm film can be quite nice, image quality wise. A few years ago I saw an exhibition of 1960's era Yosemite Camp 4 climbing photographs by the ubiquitous Glen Denny. His 35mm negs. were printed digitally, some as large as 36" on a dimension. I was quite impressed, not only by Denny's work, with which I was already familiar, but the hard copy digitally imaged representations and restorations, which by my traditional printing eye, were very fine indeed.
     
  5. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Who? How big? If you are watching the "War Photographer" video showing James Nachtwey's negatives enlarged then I believe the printer is using an internegative. That is how I'd do it.
     
  6. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Yes, the difference between 35 and 120 is huge. One of these years I'm going to get a 120 folder with a nice lens, for just this reason.
     
  7. Pupfish

    Pupfish Member

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    Even as small as 16x20 becomes challenging (particularly when using contrast reducing masks) due to the enlarger extension reducing light and getting down into the realm of reciprocity failure with papers like Ilfochrome.
    15 to 45 minute long exposures with enlarging lenses nearly wide open require strategies to keep paper and negatives from curling or popping, and critical focus maintained.
    Larger format internegs would be useful here, both to reduce exposure times and to keep the enlarging lens within optimal apertures for ultimate resolution.
     
  8. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    Yes that was the one, James Nachtwey. What is an inter-negative? Sorry for the ignorance.
     
  9. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    Even with an interneg wouldn't the limiting factor still be the data source; the 35mm original? Perhaps the interneg, being bigger, would use e.g. 16 film grains to represent one grain of the 35mm image. This 'breaking up' of that one grain would certainly alter the image visually, perhaps in a very subtle manner, but I can't as a thought experiment see where this would improve things, except as an opportunity to effect tonal changes, etc. Perhaps it's the difference between out of focus images with sharp grain verses out of focus grain.

    Just can't figure out how it does its magic.

    s-a
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The internegative is created using an enlarger lens working within a range of magnification that is optimum for that lens. In addition, the illumination available at the (internegative) film isn't outside the range where reciprocity failure kicks in.

    Then, when one enlarges the internegative, once again one uses an enlarger lens that is working within a range of magnification that is optimum for that lens. In addition, the illumination available at the paper isn't outside the range where reciprocity failure kicks in.
     
  11. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I'd suggest starting with subjects/imagery that doesn't require crisp crisp crisp lines and detail. A photo that is emotional/expressive/abstracted more than detail oriented would be acceptable with big mushy grain. Film stills and old tri-x are big grain and people love it and the love has endured because of reasons other than technical perfection.

    If it's a subject that requires detail, then I prefer the MF or LF options. 35mm can do it with acros/tmx/delta100, but the lenses have to be acting sweet, high shutter speeds or tripod used, etc... More constraints than MF or LF might throw at you, depending on the situation.
     
  12. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I remember a had a photo professor made a 16x20 print from a neg shot on Porter's H&W control film. It looked like it was photographed on LF. Wonderful tonality.
     
  13. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser

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    I had a gallery show a couple years back of work I did in China. It was all shot on 35mm and printed to 16X24 on Multigrade FB 20x24. I thought the film held up well, but with the prints back in the studio I don't hang them in the same room as work done on 8x10 film.

    I use Delta 100, it seems to work fine.

    Making FB prints larger than 20x24 is much more work and hassle. Once you get past 20x24 you usually have to buy paper in rolls and cut it, it's harder to handle and you need more space.

    Of course if it's done well, it will look great.

    -Rob
     
  14. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    That is the important thing. Occasionally you also have to please someone else, but it is still your photograph.
     
  15. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    I used to routinely print 35 mm to 20 x 24. And when I worked for a lab we occasionally get orders for even larger prints. My experience, the enlarger must be perfectly aligned. I would realign prior to making the print, using a level and so forth. A good lens is necessary, we used Scheider Componons. I found them to deliver more contrast than Rodenstock. APO lenses are best if you can afford one, but the Componons worked fine. And I *always* used a glass negative carrier. Our trays were smaller than the 40 inch prints we making and I would have to roll, or scroll, the print. I would use a 3.5 minute developing time to help achieve evenness. We projected onto the floor, but I at Pratt Institute where I taught for a while they had an enlarger that projected onto the wall. We'd just tack the paper to the wall. It doable.
     
  16. thuggins

    thuggins Member

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    This question needs an answer like "42", as it seems to be eternally asked. I have seen 4'x6' prints that are sharp, crisp with great detail. The same size print right next to looks terrible - muddy, blurry, distracting grain. It's all a matter of the original film, camera, lens, focus, aperture, shutter speed, etc.

    But if you really want to see how far 35mm can be enlarged, go to the movie theater. That's 35mm projected at 30'x50' or larger.
     
  17. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    In High School I set up a darkroom in my parents' basement. For large prints I would tilt the head of my Bogen 22A Special 45b degrees and tape the paper to the freezer. To prevent vibration I had to turn off the freezer while I did this. When doing this I had to stretch my arm all the way out to focus so I could get as close as possible to the freezer. The two enlarger lenses I used most then were 50/4 and 80/5.6 EL Nikkors. Making 11X14s took a lot of chemistry.
     
  18. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I watched the entire "War Photographer" video again and concentrated on those scenes with some stop-action.

    I have changed my mind on that. I think he is actually enlarging from the 35mm negative in a glass carrier.

    Reason: It looks like the Durst L184 is using a recessed Lapla lensboard and a small lens (like much less than 300mm). I had mistaken the shiny 70mm rim of the Lapla lensboard for the shiny rim of an older 300mm Componon and thus concluded he was projecting a large format internegative. Now I suspect he is using something like an 80mm or 100mm lens and therefore NOT projecting a large format negative. I don't think a 50mm lens will focus on a recessed Lapla lensboard on that enlarger, the big 8" Hotub lensboard is needed for that. The film clearly does NOT show a Hotub lensboard.

    I had also mistaken the black bars used to hold the paper on the wall for abnormalities on the edges of the internegative. Frame-by-frame analysis cleared that up for me. Now I see a simple 35mm frame being projected from a glass large format negative holder masked with rubylith.
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    Bob Carnie at elevator labs printed a slew of Guillaume Zuili work that large
    even bigger ... some where pinhole 35mm as well, and from what i have been told
    they were absolutely beautiful.

    it is a matter of knowing your materials, and equipment and pushing yourself to your limits
     
  20. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Good darkroom technique, with a perfectly aligned enlarger, glass carrier and a decent lens.

    There is nothing difficult about making a 20x24 from 35mm if you have the above nailed down.

    The look is the look and it is best not confused with what a good or bad enlargement is. Of course a 20x24 from TriX is generally grainy, but that can look an awful lot better than a 10x8 neg print if it is what you are after.

    I regularly make prints from 35mm to 20x16 and 20x24 and for my documentary work, 20x16 is my portfolio and standard display size. As long as I check enlarger alignment, use a glass carrier and a good lens, I get beautifully crisp grain across the entire print. The rest is then down to me.

    I do not presently make silver prints larger than 20x24, but as long as I have the ability to process larger paper, I do not see the projection part being an issue. Once again, it is just about alignment.

    FWIW, I cannot use 50mm lenses on my 10x8 enlarger due to recessed lens boards and vignetting, but I can use a 60mm, so have a 63mm Nikkor and 60mm Rodagon. At 20x24 I don't think I could be asking more from my lenses, but if I were to go larger, maybe an APO lens would be better, or a G-series.
     
  21. daveandiputra

    daveandiputra Member

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    and of course movie 35mm is actually half-frame on photography term.
     
  22. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    Moving images shot on half frame 135 film look much sharper, smoother and better overall than when a single still frame of the same film is projected because our brains aggregate multiple frames of visual information shown in rapid succession.
     
  23. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Get a Rodagon-G 50mm lens. Essential gear for anything larger than 16x20. If everything is in perfect alignment and you're using glass carriers, you'll get sharp grain.