View Full Version : It's All About the Print: An Article

Rafal Lukawiecki
09-30-2012, 04:28 PM
I've just written an article (http://rafal.net/2012/09/its-all-about-the-print/) that tries to explain my personal attitude towards black-and-white silver-gelatin photographic prints. It started as a kind of a love letter to a print, but then I made it a bit more practical, focusing on some aspects of print presentation which, I think, are being forgotten. Overall, I was trying to clarify why the print matters more to me than an ephemeral digital image does. I look forward to your feedback, and I hope I have not been too controversial with some of my statements.

You can find it here (http://rafal.net/2012/09/its-all-about-the-print/).

See you at our next get-together, in a month or so.

09-30-2012, 04:50 PM
You have asked for feedback and I would suggest that the print is something that could be made by various expert technicians over a number of years in a multifarious of different ways. But the original capture of the negative is unique.

10-01-2012, 12:37 PM
Nice article Rafal.

Rafal Lukawiecki
10-01-2012, 07:34 PM
Thank you, Clive and Peter.

Alan Klein
10-01-2012, 09:57 PM
Rafal: The article was wonderful as are your photographs. I love your passion. Never lose it. Alan.

10-02-2012, 07:56 PM
A very nice article indeed....

10-04-2012, 08:57 AM
Really enjoyed that Rafal, thanks for sharing.

Thomas Bertilsson
10-04-2012, 09:21 AM
Very good article. Well done!

Rafal Lukawiecki
10-04-2012, 07:07 PM
Thanks, everyone, that's very kind of you to share your appreciation. I'll be thinking of a next subject.

10-05-2012, 06:31 PM
Nice explanation of your work. I particularly liked the first paragraph.

One niggling point as regards to your mounting, if you will allow. Overmatting mounted work usually refers to the window laying over some portion of the margins of the print, printed or not. It appears that you are floating a window over the mount board, with a "well" surrounding the mounted print, if you are in fact presenting (http://www.rangeoflightphotography.com/pages/Fine%20Art%20Print%20Presentation#beveledwindows) in "classic" fasion.

Rafal Lukawiecki
10-06-2012, 05:41 AM
Dear ROL, thank you for your compliments and the correction, I did not know that overmatting specifically referred to the widow overlapping a portion of the image—I thought the term described every sort of a window mat placed over the mounted picture. Let me correct the article after I had a chance to review the text you referenced. Many thanks for spotting that.

PS. I've read your own in-depth article. Is it OK if I link to it, and if I mention your comment?

Rafal Lukawiecki
10-11-2012, 06:43 AM
One niggling point as regards to your mounting, if you will allow. Overmatting mounted work usually refers to the window laying over some portion of the margins of the print, printed or not. It appears that you are floating a window over the mount board, with a "well" surrounding the mounted print[...]

Dear ROL, I was looking up the term "overmat", and I think that, perhaps, I did not fully understand your point, in which case, my apologies. I realise that this term is something that may have changed meaning a good few times, and it may be regional, however AA's The Print (2000 printing, page 156) uses the name "overmat" to describe a bevelled-cut window that is placed over the print with a space around the edges of the print—the same approach, indeed, to the one you have described in your excellent article, using just slightly different terminology. 2nd edition of Way Beyond Monochrome (pages 70–71) goes further, to say that the only difference between an "overmat" for a dry-mounted vs corner-mounted print lies in the size of the opening which either does not or does overlap the edges of the print.

On the other hand, the verb "to overmat" is not as popular, it seems. WBM, Kistler, and Hyder, all refer to the creation and assembly of the overmat simply as "matting", but Adams still calls it "overmatting". My Shorter Oxford does not list a verb "to overmat" at all, but even its many descriptions of "to mat" only vaguely refer to what we mean by this term... In all cases, I fully respect your use of the term, and I am thankful for your feedback. I will clarify the captions to the photos in my article.

Thomas Bertilsson
10-12-2012, 10:02 AM
Rafal, read the article by Jon Goodman at this URL: http://www.photogravure.com/resources/texts.html

Imagine someone spending years just to make a few good prints, or even with a developed technique took months just to make the plates for four prints - all for the beauty of the print. The finishing statement is just so profound:

"The question is not about difficulty, but about beauty. For me ink and paper carry an aura and allure that transcend all of the difficulties and frustrations of the journey".

We have it easy making silver gelatin prints these days, perhaps too easy?

Rafal Lukawiecki
10-12-2012, 08:06 PM
Thomas, that you, very much, for sharing the article. It is inspiring to read about the sheer determination driven by a love of an artistic process. It does make up for the moments when I wonder why I keep on pursuing an increasingly old-fashioned, and a somewhat impractical process. However, I have to agree, that in the end it is all about that finished tangible item. It does have an aura, even if my route to it is so much easier than Jon Goodman's. I bet he's a perfectionist...

10-12-2012, 09:00 PM
thanks rafal

great article !
fun to read too :)

looking forward to the next one -


10-12-2012, 09:17 PM
Yes, AA uses the term "overmatting" to describe both types of window treatments, only in the sense that he doesn't specifically mention other print mounting techniques other than dry mounting (on the page you reference). I would only suggest that the term may have undergone some degree of evolution, and that using one or the other is only important insofar as those who are interested in your work are able to distinguish how your prints are actually presented.

For me, overmatting speaks specifically to the window covering the actual printing paper, a method which normally accompanies hinge or other non permanent mounting schemes. The physical attribute of such is that the window overmat assists in holding (the edges of) the otherwise loose print to its back or mount board. Many photographers do this successfully on relatively small (<=20"x24") papers. By printing with an adequate margin, the print may be signed right on the (white) paper margin with room to be reasonably held down by the overmat.

Dry mounting (as you know) is a mostly permanent mounting technique, decidedly not appreciated by all, which results in a smooth professional look, when done well. The print does not need to be held down and so may be separated entirely from its window as in a portfolio, without fear of catching a corner or side of a loosely attached print. The print may be "floated" (the other term) within and entirely separate from the its window.

The aesthetic and artistic value of floating a window over a suitable dry mount, as opposed to overmatting, so defined, is that the artist decides the ultimate frame of the printed photograph, not a framer or curator, who must cover the margins of a print with a window to display it once the window (if it ever existed) becomes separated from it. There is an unfortunate trend among museum curators (who prefer "loose" prints) to overmat vintage photographs into the image area, which does not honor the vision of the artist. I see this all the time at the Getty (LA), where some way of presenting loose historic prints must be devised. But last year I also observed it on a dry mounted Adams print, cutting into the actual image area. I don't believe the artist would have been at all pleased with the treatment of his work of art.

Of course you may link to my site.

Alan Klein
10-13-2012, 12:17 PM
ROL: What is your site?