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  1. #21

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    I have always felt that portrait head shots look spooky above 10x8 too.......

  2. #22

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    I have been try to understand what "bigness" means to a composition. The nature of the composition seems to change from small to big. I am not quite sure what it is, but it is definitely noticeable. I am hoping to be able to characterize in some definitive manner so that I can do a better job of visualizing the results in the field.

    Many prints just look marginal when printed small, but some how come a live when made big. There may be something said about big objects need to be printed big, and small objects tend to produce better smaller prints. Hoewever, I have many compositions that look good both big a small independent of the subject size. I recently made a 30x40 of a 3x macro of Alpine Prime Rose shot with my 5x7. Holy cow. Its like I can just walk into the world of the minute.

    In general, I would say all prints look better big. The reason I believe this is because you view big prints more like you view the real world. When are standing in front of a mountain range your eyes scan the range. It is not psossible to see everything at once. Big prints are like this too. Big prints more closely approximate the scanning experience, and thus, make you feel like you are really there.

    Here are a few rules I have used, but please note I still do not understand "bigness". If you have a composition that prints well small, then it will most likely print well big. If you have print that is a good composition, but is marginal when printed small, then you may be able to fit it by printing it big. Of course, if you have junk, then no matter what you do big or small, it will still be junk.

  3. #23

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    I am finding more and more what is meant by "optimum enlargement". I believe that this phrase has to do with enlargement size versus grain size. I regularly use Efke R25 roll film in medium format, and I used to think that my 11x11 enlargements were looking real good. It wasn't until I printed them at 16x16 that I understood that this is a better print size for the fine grain. The image had more sparkle and noticeably better textural representation. I then printed the same image at 14x14, and it looked even better! So this, then is the optimum print size for this Efke R25 in medium format.

    The HP5 in medium format does best at 10x10, the Fortepan 400 in 4x5 does best at 16x20, PanF in medium format does best at 16x16, etc. I think you'll find the old guys used Super XX, which is heavy grained, for a reason. It looks great in 8x10 contact printing.

    The size of the image as far as an overall good look is concerned, is indeed up to the individual artist. Some people buy big because it fits a particular wall space, or just because they want to make a big statement about themselves (big art=big money, whatever). I believe that the real test (as stated earlier) is how does it look printed small? If the composition is correct, it will look good no matter the size. If the composition is boring, then the image will be a major eyesore made large. I like my images to be of a size that will present itself in its entirety when viewed from a distance of a few feet. If one needs to back up, say 10 feet, then the experience is no longer an intimate one, and all the work the artist spent on printing a sharp image will go unnoticed at that distance. I also like images that present themselves well at arm's length. Then the viewing experience is truly intimate, because I have the view all to myself, and feel more inclined to become overwhelmed by it.

  4. #24
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    <I like my images to be of a size that will present itself in its entirety when viewed from a distance of a few feet.>

    Having been behind the groundglass for over 50 years, and have always thoroughly enjoyed the "beauty" of the contact print, I have seen too many over-enlarged prints... especially from 35mm format. I myself, tend to print most of my 4x5 negatives at 8.5 x 6.5 inches with a few on 11x14 paper with at least a 1" margin.

    To retain the visual perspective in a photograph is somewhat different that that of a painting. I was taught that the proper viewing distance for a photographic print is a function of linear magnification of the enlargement from the negative, multiplied by the focal length of the lens through which the negative was exposed.

    Ken

  5. #25
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    A very interesting thread: However one item not mentioned is the 'Angle of view' or Lens focal length used for the original negative. If we were comparing 'Normal' negatives to say 'Extreme W/angle ' the the W/A lens will have much more subject matter at Infinity than say a 150mm. What do others think ?
    I usually go to no more than 12" x 16" with minimal cropping for most of my 4 X 5 B&W negs, usually landscapes. Cheers Barrie

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by BarrieB
    one item not mentioned is the 'Angle of view' or Lens focal length used for the original negative. If we were comparing 'Normal' negatives to say 'Extreme W/angle ' the the W/A lens will have much more subject matter at Infinity than say a 150mm.
    How we perceive a print depends also on the ratio exposure angle / viewing angle. There are certain limits beyond which we start feeling uncomfortable. Smaller prints have a limited viewing angle, because your near sight is limited, too. So it is not primarily a matter of size, but of possible viewpoints. Larger prints do have more options.

  7. #27

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    Just read all the answers, great bunch of thoughts. Just to add one more, or restate what others have said: When I make a print (presumably for others to see), I believe that I am trying to share, explain, show - an experience I had, when shooting, processing, evolving an image. There's an essence there in the image, for me, and the print is the way I have to communicate it. Should it be a big print, or a small one? All of the other factors may be present in that final feeling, but maybe it's that simple.

  8. #28

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    Some images have an intimate feel - they just work better smaller. Some images are grandeous - Clearing Winter Storm, Half Dome, Moonrise - all of them work at all sizes but feel best when rendered on a grand scale. I am just learning that forcing everything to 11X14 or larger, just because you can, is another lesson to be learned. I need to leave the testosterone behind and allow myself to let the image tell me how big it wants to be. This was an epiphany for me and I am still working through it.

    IMHO it is not the size of the negative nor the information it contains, it is the subject matter and the environment that enhances its viewing. I recently had an opportunity to view dozens of John Sexton's 16X20 prints. They are breathtaking. Then I looked at Anne Larson's (John's Wife) prints - all of them 4x5 negs printed 6x8 or there about. Her chosen subject matter was quiet and intimate still life and abstacts. They, too, were breathtaking and felt right at the smaller size. The size complimented the image.

  9. #29
    Galaxens President's Avatar
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    Since I've never printed on paper larger than 24x30.5cm I am probably quite biased.

    When I photograph I try as often as I can to compose as if the photo should be presented in say 13x18cm (or even 650x650pixels as here on APUG). If I feel that I need to have it larger, the composition is probably too crowded or messy. Still I like venturing into pictures by exploring details later on, but thinking in a smaller format when composing may give photos that are better at attracting the first interest from the viewer.

    A more experienced LF shooter can probably do this anyway, but I who am new to the huge images on the ground glass is easily distracted by the richness of detail.

    And I also prefer to spend my money on more sheets film than larger sheets of paper at the practicing mode that I am still in ;-). When I look at my 24x30.5 prints I can put my nose up to the paper to examine detail, though I guess that is something that shouldn't be needed at a gallery.
    Cheers,

    Richard

  10. #30
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Edwards
    I am finding more and more what is meant by "optimum enlargement". I believe that this phrase has to do with enlargement size versus grain size.
    How do you explain the beauty of a Salgado print which, at 11 x 14 or 16 x 20, contains boulder sized grain? And the prints are quite beautiful.

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