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  1. #1
    Mr Man's Avatar
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    How do you view your prints?

    We all know that the lighting conditions under which a print is viewed has a great effect on the appearance of that print. I only print B & W and usually judge my prints by holding them next to a window but out of direct sunlight but our house is small with small windows and when I move even a couple of feet away from the window the effect of the print changes. So how do you judge your prints when printing? What light source do you use and do you use more than one? When do you decide the print is right?

  2. #2
    Mr Man's Avatar
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    Sorry about posting this twice hit the back button to edit typo. It's a bit early for me.

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    Good question and a tricky topic. Short answer, I try to view the print under as many different lighting conditions as possible (except direct sunlight). The lightbulb in my darkroom is rather bright and I've ruined many prints by using it as the sole guide. Now, if I print during daytime, I always view the test strips (microwave dried) and prints by a large window. I might even carry them out onto a shady balcony. When printing at night, I try not to view the print directly under a glaring bright bulb, but keep the print a couple of meters away, which - I hope - should give me an OK look by window light.

  4. #4
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    I do my best to view the print as it will be displayed in because more light allows darker printing and vice versa. It also changes the color.

    Seeing it under different light though allows me to trouble shoot, for me if a print looks good under various lighting conditions I am typically closer to finished.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  5. #5
    Mr Man's Avatar
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    Hi Mark
    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    I do my best to view the print as it will be displayed
    I agree about viewing under as many sources as possible but surely in most cases we do not know how our works will be displayed. I have seen some terribly displayed works (in some very prestigious public galleries) so what source do you use to define that point when you think “Right that's got it. That print is finished”

  6. #6
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Actually I think we do know in many if not most cases that matter.

    Most for profit galleries have nice lighting.

    Most people who are going to spend a significant chunk of change on a photo will be open to suggestions from the gallery or you.

    If the work is a commission you will know the target.

    As to public showing spaces or others with poor lighting, you do have the choice not to display your work there. Seriously, do these spaces even fit your market? If they matter and it's going to be long term maybe a print needs to be made specifically for that space.

    The flip-side thought there is that I think most people understand bad light, if the content is strong much may be forgiven in public that can be fixed in private.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  7. #7
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    This is a similar answer to the “viewing light” thread. I have a print with full tonal range that looks good where I plan to show it, that I hang to compare with the new print. I can’t equal the light where I will show the print, but the sample print comparison helps me adjust my eyes and expectations.

    Edit: I should add that I also adjust 10% mentally for drydown.

    John Powers
    Last edited by jp80874; 08-22-2012 at 10:45 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    "If you want to be famous, you must do something more badly than anybody in the entire world." Miroslav Tichý

  8. #8
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    I agree with John Powers that comparison prints are very helpful.
    Over my darkroom sink I have two bright lights and I can stand over a water tray half way between them and view working wet prints.
    Accidentally once I put in a cool light on one side and a warm light on the other. Drove me crazy. The shadow of one hand was bluish and the shadow of the other hand was warm.
    It was interesting in that I could walk closer to one light or the other and see the print either warmed or cooled.
    Looking at prints under florescent is a whole nother beast. Prints suddenly become too contrasty and bright.
    I keep one at the end of my darkroom though and turn it on to check some prints because stains show up better under florescent.
    Dennis

  9. #9
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    I wonder if there is a poor quality of light in which, if a print looks good, it will look good in other types of light.

    Recording engineers and musicians will often listen to a final mix on a cheap stereo or through cheap speakers on the basis that if it sounds o.k. on that, it will sound fine (hopefully better) on a good system.


    Steve.

  10. #10
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Smith View Post
    I wonder if there is a poor quality of light in which, if a print looks good, it will look good in other types of light.

    Recording engineers and musicians will often listen to a final mix on a cheap stereo or through cheap speakers on the basis that if it sounds o.k. on that, it will sound fine (hopefully better) on a good system.


    Steve.
    I do find that with color prints that if I have good color balance the print will look decent in most lighting. If color balance is off it may look good in one lighting but probably not in another.

    My theory is that I know what normal looks like in most types of lighting.

    Using just one type of lighting can fool me. Once I add a second type of lighting the problems generally pop and I can then even see it in the original setting.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

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