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Thread: Print Size

  1. #1
    CPorter's Avatar
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    Print Size

    What decision factors do you use to decide just how large you choose to make a print? Do you not think about it until the printing stage or is it a factor in how you set up the photograph in the viewfinder/GG? Do you think certain subjects lend themselves to large prints better than others?

    I have an enlarger on the way that will be capable of 20x24 and have been giving this a lot of thought, but right now it is hard for me to envision making a print that large (though I have the trays, etc..to do it when I feel it is the thing to do). I suspect up to 11x14 will be more routine.

    Since getting into LF, I have been trying to think about perspective (camera to subject distance) and other factors that make cropping on the GG and other "image management" concerns of the negative more suitable for large prints, of course keeping grain to a minimum and sharpness to a maximum is key. It may be a case of over thinking it, but thought I would get some feedback.

    Thanks
    Chuck

  2. #2
    Dave Miller's Avatar
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    Interesting question Chuck.

    The decision for me revolves around viewing distance and use. If the print is to be viewed in the hand then 5x7 is sufficient. For exhibition use 20x24 could be required, but it’s a little unwieldy to hand-hold.
    Regards Dave.

    An English Eye


  3. #3
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    I can't say I ever think of how big an image should be when I shoot it, but I certainly think about it when I am printing.

    I like images to be as large as they can be and still have good quality. Bear in mind that most of my work to date has been on 35mm and therefore this results in a practical maximum of about 11x14.

    Certainly larger prints are tougher to display (you need the physical space) but I don't think 20x24 is too large if the image has impact and a subject that suits it.
    Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

    A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.

    Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?

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    I'm trying to catalog my photos, more than anything else right now . I'm tired of letting so many things slip by me. So 8x10 or shapes it within have become my size, and I've fallen in love with it. I used to think of them as work prints, but have now taken a considerable liking to the intimate experience, viewing a boxful in hand feels just right. If it goes to the wall 16x20 is my max. B&W, 20x24 Color. The massive prints still in style in the galleries has always turned me off. They communicate extravagant wastefulness and boasting.

  5. #5
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    First of all, with LF, I hardly, if ever crop. The GG is such a fine avenue for composition, cropping is seldom needed. With an enlarger I usually print everything but the very edges. Contact prints, by nature, get the whole frame, including the rebates. I could mask them off, but first, that is a PIA, and second, about every fifth person throws my over mat away, and has the contact print matted to show the edges. Some folks dig the process artifact, so I sign the over mat, and the under mat, these days.

    Size wise, the largest I'm currently printing is 11x14, though not many get such treatment. 8x10 is my most common size. When the giant enlarger is finished, I will most likely make some very large prints from 8x10 negs. I don't play the many sizes each size is an edition game. If I make 10/10 of something, whatever the size, that's it for that negative. I make ten because the collectors dig it, and because my attention span is just about perfect for ten prints. Right about ten, I'm sick of printing it.

    I like 8x10 for prints, because it is big enough to have a presence in an 11x14 mat, yet small enough that you have to look to really see, and thus engages persons in a way that a big print won't. It also leaves room for other pieces on the same wall, which I find much more interesting than a single giant print that dominates a room, and casts a dominant statement.

    That said, some of the more wealthy and less sophisticated H2 drivers who inhabit the McMansions of today, generally want BIG (go figure). That's what the designers keep telling me. To keep it in perspective, these are the folks who take a mass produced ink print, that costs about seven bucks, and spend $800 on a mat and frame job for it. So anyway, when the enlarger is done, I will make a few really big prints, and charge accordingly.
    Last edited by JBrunner; 12-31-2007 at 05:25 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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    Now that I have set up a darkroom [just this month] I am printing 8"x8" for 120 prints and I have the trays for 11"x14" [11"x11" for 120]. The enlarger can go to 20"x24" [35mm, 120, 4"x5"], my easels go up to 16"x20", the print dryer will take 20" wide. To go wider than 11" inches will require larger trays - not a big deal. Then I am limited to 16"x20" until I get a larger easel.

    Those are not the driving factors. The driving factor are the wall space and the cost of framing! I have many 11"x14"s and 12"x18"s. I have one 20"x20" and two 24"x36"s. Without taking down the oil paintings I have some room left for 20"x20"s and 24"x36"s.

    My thinking at the moment is !6" wide will be my largest until I get a really, really got photograph.

    Steve
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    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

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    Gary Holliday's Avatar
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    I have been giving this a lot of thought recently. At the moment I'm in a fairly small apartment, where I would rather display 3-4 framed images from a series rather than one large scale photo.

    Although I look at each negative and decide which size this print needs to be. Generally, I prefer small 7 inch prints in a large matts.

    At the taking stage, of course I'm thinking about the final print and size choices often enter my head.

  8. #8
    Ole
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    Unless I have a really good reason not to, I make my prints on 24x30cm paper with a 1" margin (yes, I know it's inconsistent. But my paper is metric and my easel is imperial. So there!).

    I make a few 24x30cm prints with 8mm borders, but those are contact prints from my 24x30cm camera. Contact prints represent most of the "other size prints" too - 9x12cm, 18x24cm, 8x10", 30x40cm and the odd 5x7".
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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    [QUOTE=Sirius Glass;566367]Now that I have set up a darkroom [just this month] I am printing 8"x8" for 120 prints and I have the trays for 11"x14" [11"x11" for 120].

    Just curious, I read where Michael Kenna also likes 8x8, and I wondered at this assuming he would drop them into an 11x14, but here you seem to indicate full bleed. Doesn't that risk the edges from handling?

  10. #10
    jovo's Avatar
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    As I've just begun cutting my own mats, I've enjoyed an exceedingly liberating sense of freedom with size. Not so much large or small, but rather being able to print without regard to 'standard' sizes. When you enlarge a 4x5 negative to 11x14, for example, there's a compromise necessary to suit the format. Being able to mat in any configuration I choose, therefore, makes it far more an aesthetic decision than a mechanical one and I can use the 11x14 paper, but fully utilize the negative without needing to crop it in any way. Also, square pictures are all but doomed to stay off the wall unless you can make square mats which are otherwise unavailable from pre-cut sources. Along with your other darkroom equipment, I highly recommend a good or better quality mat cutter....or learn how to do it well with a mat cutter and straightedge.

    I'm also finally printing 16x20's from time to time. I spend a lot of time thinking about which photographs I want to enlarge are worthy of that degree of prominence. There's lots of good advice in the thread above about how and why to make that choice. For me, it's still a very fluid conundrum.
    John Voss

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