Big Big Prints - 7.5'x6' - What does it take?
This is a discussion minded thread, and I'd like to hear from those who have done work of this scale, or know what it takes.
I saw some prints of photographs by Hew Locke the other day, and they nearly blew my mind. They were 7.5 feet x 6 feet chromogenic prints that looked absolutely stunning. Sharpness for miles, grainless, and enormous.
(to say that these online images don't do the prints justice seems like a silly thing to have to say...)
If you go to his website, you can see the whole film w/o cropping. Apparently he used Kodak 100T & the shadows from the film holder tell me it was 4x5"; do you agree?
How do you process a print this large? Does it take a top-notch lens to do it, and how long of an exposure does this kind of thing usually take? How much would it cost? I figured only 8x10" could do this, but apparently I underestimated 4x5".
It really just goes to show what film is capable of. By taking photographs on a sizable film you have captured enough visual information to reproduce life size images that look nearly perfect upon the closest inspection.
Anyways, I was just ecstatic to see these (among many other amazing prints at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art) and further pleased to see that they were chromogenic prints.
Thanks for your input,
As a teen ager, before I really knew what I was doing photgrapher./darkroom wise, I worked for a night or two with an older guy in my home town, who had done photgrahic work in WWII.
Fred Noakes loved all sorts of stuff. The quntesential older English bloke.
His specially was to be commissioned to make large prints, hand colour them (sometimes), mount, laquer, and have them hang in public buildings around the county. A lot of time he would dupe a photo of some departed public building.
To enlarge, he would stick the photo paper - I seem to recall it was something like 54" tall, on the far wall of the very good sized darkroom that took up most of his basement. The 4x5 enlarger was on a cart, with a 45 degree front silvered mirror that sat on the baseboard to make the mural projections.
The basement floor was not flat, so shimming to level the cart was one of my tasks.
Exposure was for a few minutes.
The paper after exposure was rolled up again (or should I say let to reroll itself) and taken to his custom home made fibreglass sink. It was about 6' long, perhaps 4" deep and 4' to the back.
It had two drain systems. One to the sewer like normal, and one to a pipe that openned under the sink. He would get out a gallon or so of developer, and pour it into the whole sink, and proceed to roll the print out, wiping the developer across the paper with a sponge.
You would roll the paper out about 3' at a time, and then roll on to the next part. The developer must have been quite dilute. At the end of development, the jug it was stored in was put under the 'second drain' and the devloper was thus drained from the sink back to the storage jug.
Then lots of water and sponge work as a stop, then on to a sink of fixer, then second fixer, then rinse, then HCA, then wash wash wash.
He would leave them washing for hours, the next day, moving them every half hour or so to let a fresh section be unrolled.
Kodak's mural paper was very robust, and seemed to hold up to being wet for a very long time.
Initial drying was by mopping the floor clean, and laying it out on the floor, and gradually raise one edge.
It would then hang clipped from a bunch of yard sticks thet Fred had suspened on brackets from the basement roof, while you stood on a milk crate to reach them.
I went to look him up after uni when I was in town visiting Mom; alas he had passed only a few weeks earlier.
I did not have the financial resources to contemplate buying up his gear at that time.
I have no idea what became of it.
I would have loved to learn more from him.
my real name, imagine that.
Unless he says otherwise I would guess he is drum scanning and lightjet printing to get that size.
I'd definitely recommend 8x10 film. Lenses and lighting is a much more detailed discussion. Fuji Crystal Archive paper is available both paper and polyester base in big roll sizes. Kodak too for the
moment. But printing anything this size takes a lot of equipment and elbow room, and will probably
require the services of a pro lab still offering chemical printing. Major cities still have them. Setting up a personal darkroom to handle this indurstrial scale of color work would be very difficult and expensive, but if you want to proceed on that premise it can be discussed further. Just plan of your
electrical bill alone going up several hundred dollars a month, that is, on top of your building lease,
hazmat and license fees etc etc. The biggest size one can comfortably do in a really big home darkroom
is about 30x40.
Mike & Greg - he's talking about color work here. It would require a basic pro horizontal enlarger and
wall mounting of course, then a very big RA system with the appropriate scale of industrial wiring,
effluent control, and plumbing behind it. Plus some way to cut the roll paper. Too big to do in sinks
or drums, if one values their lungs at all. But traditional chemical printing is far more cost effective
than scanning and Lightjet. I think Bob Carnie still does both. And in this immediate neighborhood
a big optical printing lab has survived. I only do personal work, and am at the moment trying to decide whether to increase my own size capacity or not. But all things being equal, direct enlarging
cost is only about 5% to 10% of the cost of sending 8x10 work to Lightjet. That's a helluva difference, and I like the quality of optical a lot better too.
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And add framing/sil mounting costs to the prohibitive account.
Thanks for the input guys. Mike, I really enjoyed your account of working with that fella. I know just the kind of prints; big hand tinted murals of old buildlings. I'm actually researching one right now in Lawrence here.
Well I'm not planning or even thinking about doing this kind of printing myself; just curious to hear what it takes.
I honestly believe it was an enlarged chromogenic print, primarily because other prints in the same gallery said things like "Digital Chromogenic" print and so forth. Even saw an "Iris" print.
must be impressive to see prints that big (analog or digital, assuming they are technically well done). If I ever see prints that big, I hope the composition and subject matter are more captivating, though
"I have captured the light and arrested its flight! The sun itself shall draw my pictures!"
-Louis Daguerre, 1839-
...... " Big Big Prints - 7.5'x6' - What does it take?"
Bob Carnie in Toranto
"Print with #3.5 and burn with #1.5." B.J. Confucius
(I'm hoping Bob chimes in)
Sure, the photographs are what they are. Beautifully done; not my favorite subject matter either. There were some other big prints that took care of that jones though..