It all depends of course on my intended purpose for the image...
I used to print bigger than I do now, but I'm also now doing more contact printing than anything.
I've found I can get excellent quality prints from 35mm up to 12x18 on 16x20 paper when using the Kodak T400 CN chromogenic neg film. Shoot it at 100, and although your negs are dense enough to stop bullets, they print beautifully. I'll take MF stuff up to 16x20, and same with 4x5 (16x20 is the biggest my darkroom can handle - sink size limits the trays I can use).
Seems like I am in good company going small sometimes.
Maybe grain is not my main issue, neither would a tripod really help out whith my favorite 35mm shooting style and subjects. (See enclosed pictures that I printed yesterday.)
I also found out yesterday that when printing some other really bad exposured shots, going small also helped masking difficult contrast and living with totally black parts of the picture. Those pictures of course would never be called "good" pictures. But sometimes pure content is ennough.
Perhaps it doesn't belong here and the fact that I print digitally from my transparencies with either a Chromira or a LightJet Printer, but as Scott mentioned it depends on the image and the purpose. But from 35mm if the transparency/scan are sharp enough and of enough interest, I print not infrequently to 20" x 30". I have considered printing to about 25" x37.5" for specific images, but at present have not. For medium format, I have not printed many images at this point, but I have a Rollei TLR (3.5F Planar) image that has been printed to 24" x 24" and it appears that it can be printed to 40" X 40". For 4" x 5" I generally print to 24" x 30", have printed to 30" X 37.5"; most of these images would be sharp enough to print to 40" x 50".
Yes, this one is intriguing. I have often run 35mm trannies at A3+ (image size maybe 30x40cm/12x16 inches) but I rarely find that B+W works the same way. As I said earlier, I think tonality limits mono print size for me, not sharpness.
Originally Posted by naturephoto1
Dave, I hope you are right about Les...:o
Seriously, while some work is contact printed from 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 negatives, enlarged prints come from mostly 645 and 4x5 negatives. Paper is never larger than 11x14, though print size does based on image and how much white space is added around the print.
Attempted some 16x20 prints, but for the size of my sink and darkroom in general they were just to large for the process to be fun. If I had the space and the need that would still be the max I think I would want. Not sure how many people have a room that can handle the really large prints. Personaly choice would be to view a large print from a distance, while a smaller print pull the viewer in (but hopefully not nose on the glass close).
As with most things...it is about personal choice.
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As a student I printed on 16x20 paper (image about a 14 inch square). Since then I have gone to 8x10 (about a 6 inch sq. image) and find myself feeling clausterphobic (sp?). So the bigger prints will be coming in the future. Got the trays, got the sink.....
"So I am turning over a new leaf but the page is stuck". Diane Arbus
The university courses I've been taking the last three years require ten 11x14 or larger prints every other Wednesday for class critique. Though I am retired, taking this for the pleasure it brings, I am motivated by the assigned pressure to produce.
For a year and a half I've been printing 16x20" from 8x10" negatives. I've just finished my first box of 20x24". The larger prints have shown me where I need to work on camera focus a bit more carefully with 67 year old eyes. I also print 7x17" on half 16x20" sheets. Kentmere Fineprint VC FB.
I was just thinking about this last night. In the past year and last year, I've been printing mostly 9x9's on 11x14 paper or as much of the entire 35mm frame I can get on 11x14 paper. I have lots of 5x7 images on 16x20 matted frame at home and I like the look of it. Last night, I printed some Halloween pix for my wife and kids and I used RC 8x10 paper. I printed 4.3" square on 8x10 paper and I forgot how nice and intimate little images are. I'm also falling in love again with warmtone paper. (Unfortunately, these are of special needs children so for privacy issues, I cannot post them on the web) I thought after Portriga, I can't have similar images but for some reason, my Forte Poly Warm tone and Ansco 130 procduces olive colored pictures.
I'm going to go back with smaller images for a while and pick a few during the year to print big.
I like the intimacy of an 8x10 or 11x14 print. I've never had any real desire to print larger, although I find the general trend is to go bigger and bigger with your prints. I find that when I go to a showing of photography, I spend time with the 8x10 and 11x14 prints and move past the larger print fairly quickly. As others have stated, personal taste/preference and intended display have a lot to do with it.
My first show was all 8x10's that were printed while I was taking a photography course, and the experience is pretty much a blur. The second show was all 11x14's, and I didn't like the way a close-up of shells felt next to a wide-angle seascape full of sky. I also didn't like the way the people in the gallery all stood the same comfortable viewing distance from the prints, and moved around the gallery as if on a conveyor belt.
My last show ranged from 5x7 close-ups, to 11x14 wide-angle landscapes full of sky. They weren't hung on a single line, but were 'jumbled about' on the wall. I liked the way the images sat next to each other, where big scenes were big prints and close-ups were small prints. What surprised me was how people in the gallery experienced the show as they would move in real close to look at a close-up, look at the fine details of a large landscape beside it, then move back out to look at the larger print. It was a double win. Visually it made sense to me, and people had a fuller experience of my work.
My next show will range from 8x10 to 16x20...I think...because I've since become accustomed to making all my early work prints at 5x7.
Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.