Thank you Mark :-)
Thank you Mark :-)
Are you sure there is no middle ground in there?
I would like to see which quote you are referring to that was demanding "no visible grain" or is there a fire sale on strawmen this week?
There are some really thin skinned people around here. I have seen people post on the internet that they would not enlarge a medium format negative beyond 11"x14". If you think this conversation is extreme my advice is to rip your ethernet cable out of the wall because you don't want to see what else is out there.
Why do people make these statements on the internet? I was going to museums and looking at various kinds of art long before this website existed. I had to come here to learn a) no one approaches art b) if you are standing four feet away from a detailed Renaissance mural you are a "brush stroke snob."
Sorry guys I had to do a bit of clean up. What I said was mischaracterized and some flat out false quotes were attributed to me. This business of contacting printing 35mm negatives and "brush stroke snobs" is just way too hyperbolic.
As far as I'm concerned, that assumption is nonsense.
Would Guilliaume Zuili's work be "improved" by availing himself of the characteristics of a larger format film?
IMO, absolutely not. In fact I think a step up in format might just ruin it.
The choices we make as artists using photography; of lens, film, format, lighting, filters ... simply imparts certain characteristics on the prints we are trying to get to.
None of the characteristics that our tools or materials impart on a print are intrinsically better or worse than their alternatives.
What we're saying is that rationale like "35mm is only enlargeable up to x size" is absolutist!
I already shoot 35mm, MF, & 4x5. I pick the tool to suit the expected result and the shooting situation. Sometimes I like grainy, sometimes smooth as a babe's butt.
You are right that there are lots of ways to do things. None are artistically better or worse than another, they are simply choices.
Ahh, more hyperbole.
Speak for yourselves but I personally strive to get the same grain one would see in a 30x40" print from 35mm in my smaller format prints...one of my favorite photographs I've ever seen on display was by a photographer whose name I don't even know, in Finland (god knows if he was even Finnish or not), and it was a very simple portrait of a woman, maybe in her early 30s...very attractive...
Anyway, it was a 16x20" or so, maybe a 20x24 but grain was what I can only describe as sandpapery. It was articulated so well and it almost seemed like a layer of sand had been lightly spread over the entire image...I've never seen grain quite like it since. It was a very low contrast print, but the tones were beautifully distributed...just an incredible photograph...the woman's face seemed to melt into the background, much more gently than blowing out the tones on the face to match a paper white background...this was via careful dodging I suspect. Without the grain, the photograph would have seemed artificial and manufactured, the grain reminded you as a viewer that this was a real human being you were looking at.
That said, people who print no larger than 11x14 from medium format confused the heck out of me...my 30x30" prints from 6x6cm negs are enjoyable up close, and far away, that goes for both recent traditional gelatin silver prints, and the Lambda prints I had done from some color negs a couple years ago. Very sharp, very good contrast...
The harder parts of making a large print from 35mm are having a critically aligned enlarger, a good neg carrier, and holding the paper flat. As Bob Carnie can attest, keeping the paper flat is a cinch if you use a simple, yet effective magnet/brace setup, or as the more fortunate of the community, a vacuum easel. Substitute "glass" for "good" on the carrier, and that problem is easily solved if you are meticulous about keeping things clean, and if you don't have the tools to align your enlarger critically, find the nearest rental darkroom capable of making large photographic prints, and use that...the good ones will have flawlessly maintained equipment (CRC and Printspace NYC both come to mind).
The hardest thing about making large prints is handling a piece of paper inundated with chemicals in trays that are just barely big enough for it, and avoiding crinkles.
If you can avoid crinkles, go for it.
I actually use different strategies, depending upon the subject. With Nikon work, I tend to choose high-speed films for spontaneity and maybe
to create a poetic description deliberatety divested of fine detail. I tend to print these quite small. At the other extreme, yesterday I was
printing a 30x40 (inch) from an 8x10 color neg where the whole point of the composition is to lead the eye into the extreme detail. The overall
composition would have certainly "worked" if it had been shot with 35mm, but it wouldn't have had that wealth or wow effect that the extreme
detail gives it. Nobody is going to view this thing just from the "normal viewing distance" unless they have vision problems. And it has nothing
to do with "pixel peeping" or attempting to sleuth technique. I print optically anyway. But in such instances, it wouldn't make much of a difference if the original was 35mm or 6x7. It would be a ball of mush at 30x40, so the grain or something else has to make the print interesting in some other respect - which can be done - but it's a whole different printing strategy. Frankly, every time someone tells me
how sharp their big print was from one of these smaller formats, I have good reason to doubt they ever have seen a sharp print in their life.
I hear this kind of nonsense all the time, esp from the digital kids.