Final Prints: What size?
When I first started lurking in a darkroom way back in the late 1980's; 10x8" or, occasionally, 11x14" prints would have been the maximum size I printed. Having recently rediscovered the joys of film and darkroom printing, I've started printing to 20x24" using Ilford fibre paper and FP4 Plus film (6x7cm camera).
Does anyone else print to 20x24"? If not, what sizes and why?
I print on 9 1/2 by 12 paper for the simple reason that I like a smaller print, I tend to print full frame, so with, say 6x6 negatives, my normal size, the final print is smaller than the paper, The reason I like a smaller print is that I like the idea that a viewer has to come up close to look at the print, that somehow, with a small print, they get drawn into the photograph, I have printed larger, up to 12x16, but always come back to the smaller size, also, I think they look great mounted onto 20x16 mounts,
I've occasionally printed 4x5 negatives on 11x14 paper but I pretty much stick to 8x10 paper for both 4x5 and 35mm. They are generally mounted on 14x17 board. I guess I just like smaller prints. It's a personal thing and there are no rules. Some photographers print small, some print larger. And some print all sorts of sizes depending on the image because they find certain images work better at different sizes. Sometimes the limitations are in the negative and finding the largest size that works without grain or unsharpness becoming distracting. There are lots of potential variables and it is all subjective. No rules.
I regularly print 11x14 to 20x24 and not usually smaller for a host of reasons including the markets I am serving. Due to my style of shooting, I feel that going smaller than 11x14 does not do my images any favors and when it comes to certain images and especially those from 4x5, they only just start to open up at 16x20 and really sing at 20x24 in terms of tonal relationships and detail.
I have definate plans to go much larger too as competition in terms of size from digital works make it nearly impossible to consider smaller than 20x24 in certain markets. I am looking to secure a second darkroom space in the coming months for my mural enlarger of which I have spent the better part of a year gathering the components for including Rodagon G mural lenses.
But in terms of workflow, I think my favorite print size is either 11x14 or 16x20 inch paper for a host of reasons. But yeah, 20x24's are awesome and I love that I produce them in a small closet darkroom by using a Jobo 3063 drum in the kitchen once I peg my test strips in a small tray. Even though I plan on going to 30x40 on a regular basis and have built a drum that can handle up to 33x48, if 20x24 was the largest I could ever do, I would not be unhappy as I feel it is a fantastic size in which the print starts to impart the feeling of "big"...
i used to print 16x20 often and loved seeing some of my hybrid prints
( made from camera-made + found + hand made negatives )
and often times i have a lab i work with print my work that big even today ... but
i also like, and almost favor smaller sizes (max 8x10, and even 4x5 reductions to 2x3 ) because
the form and line of an image really comes out more when it is compressed and i like miniatures + intimate prints.
in addition to small prints ( swimming in a large mat ) i also make hand stitched books
and find it to be much easier to make a book of 4x5 or 5x7 or 8x10 images than a book of 16x20 or 20x24 images.
have fun !
I like working with 11x14 paper for various reasons. My 35mm negatives look 'just right' at 9x12" print area, with a one inch border around it. I also like how my 6x6 negatives look at 8x8" print area.
16x20 paper is sweet to work with, but I start to hit the limits of what my darkroom can produce at that size, and I usually only print something that big when I get a request to do so (not very often). For snapshot stuff I use 8x10 paper and I really like how those small prints feel in my hands.
To me it's important that the print looks good on its own, without being mounted and over-matted. It should be a jewel on its own and a joy to hold and look at. I'm not selling a lot of work, so for me this is a highly personal opinion. If I was able to sell more work, I would not mind getting the equipment to print larger (print washers, tray heaters, and so on). But I will not start printing larger just for me to look at something to enjoy. The expense is just way too high for me to justify on the budget I'm on.
Good luck picking the right size, and have a good time in the darkroom.
Originally Posted by R.Gould
This could have been written by me! (although I really haven't mounted my prints yet).
My stock is as follows:
19 boxes of 11x14 fb (900 sheets)
9 boxes of 8x10 fb (900 sheets)
2 boxes of 20x24 fb (100 sheets)
9 boxes of 20x24 rc (450 sheets)
4 boxes of 16x20 fb (200 sheets)
9 boxes of 16x20 rc (450 sheets)
3 boxes of 5x7 rc (750 sheets)
I'm good for 2013 through 2015.
My problem is that I'm always adding fb paper as soon as I find good deals.
Smaller prints are engaging, feel special, are more intimate. But when I was at college doing photography the 'small dark print' reigned supreme. I think the main thing is the smaller print forces an engagment with the viewer by making sure they get close enough, whereas a larger print can be seen from the other side of the gallery, but if there are fine subtleties these can be missed because the viewer already thinks thay have 'got it'.
But printing large is now a fashion and, depending on wall space available, it can work. The main thing that bothers me about very large prints is the feeling some are very reliant on simply being large for their impact, forgetting that it should be a good picture as well. And too many photographers are drawn into offering large prints for sale, as if people will think they are getting more art for their money, especially with the rise of inkjet printing. Yet all too often the potential buyer will have a small bit of wall to devote to a picture, and may want to collect more than one image by the artist. It's something Ansel understood.
11 x 14 is my current target size.
But I really like 12 x 16. I wish that size of paper was more easily found.
And if Ilford would sell paper in 16" rolls, I would be very grateful :).