Those super huge pictures, how and who makes them?
This morning I was looking at an old photo magazine before tossing it and noticed some b/w photos that were huge and displayed on a wall. I'm talking about 4 feet by 5 feet or more (maybe 6 X 8). I was wondering, how are these made and who makes them? I know you could just turn an enlarger to shoot it on the wall, but where would you get the paper for this. My guess is that the emulsion is applied to the mounting board or something. These were not done digitally, and even if they were I have seen pictures like this long before digital. So my question is simply, how is this done. Also, if I'm right about the emulsion just applied to the display medium, what is the board or paper that is used for this? I assume these have to be shot with a minimum 4x5 camera and probably an 8x10, but where do you get an enlarger that size? Any websites that you know answer my questions? Thank you. Ric.
I used to make big enlargements for industry. 4 x 5 and 8 x 10 enlargers are common. I re-engineered a process camera to enlarge negatives up to 30" x 48" in size. Paper is available at least 50" wide. Agfa used to make 54" paper. Colour paper is available up to at least 72".
Why are there no speaker jacks on a stereo camera?
Photographic paper is available in rolls of 40", 50", 56", and possibly larger to special order. For billboard sized images, it is practical to print smaller strips and mount them on to a larger backing board - I believe a Mr. A. Adams used to do this for some of his mural prints.
As an alternative to wide strips of photographic paper placed next to each other, photographic emulsion was also be sprayed onto an apt base.
google mural darkroom prints
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When I saw Avedon's portrait show at Gagosian in NYC last summer, the prints were the originals from the 1970s exhibiton, they were made up of at least 3 or 4 strips of what seemed to be at least 50" wide FB paper. The individual strips probably measured about 50" by 120" tall
This web site both answers my question and shows some great shots.
Just as I was about to leave this message, I got a heads up that I have a private message waiting. In it the writer mentioned that web site I found after doing a search for mural darkroom prints. There are some really neat shots here of the swamps of Florida by Clyde Butcher. He sells some of them for well over a grand.
Check it out. Ric.
Essentially any negative of any size can and probably has been enlarged to mural size in the past. The biggest enlargements I have personally seen and done with another darkroom worker were single piece colour prints with a finished image of 6’ high by 18’ wide using Kodak 72 inch wide by 100 feet rolls.
Ilford had 48” wide by 100’ rolls in B&W paper.
The colour paper processor we had was 76” wide, which didn’t leave much room for misaligned paper. This was an Australian made processor
Our widest B&W processor was 54” wide and made by Dupont in the USA.
Agfa did have a B&W paper, which I believe was 1.4m wide by 30m long, although I’m not sure on the 30m long bit. We never used it but it was offered to us for trial.
All of these papers were RC papers.
The enlargers we used were horizontal DeVere 10” by 10” and all movements were done with a cable remote unit, often in complete darkness, apart from the glow of the enlarger controls. Turning lights on stuffed you up for focusing for at least 15 minutes, so total darkness it was.
Steel walls were used and large strong magnets were used to hold the paper in place. You haven’t lived until you have pulled out in total darkness 6’ wide colour paper and had to hold it (carefully) so that your co-worker could slice the paper in a reasonably straight line a hand width or so away from you! The you had to place it on the wall in the correct position without any saggy bits.
If you were supplied with a transparency, you had to make a negative to enlarge from. If the original was a 35mm colour slide or B&W negative, you had to make a 4x5” or 8x10” negative to enlarge from, this could take half a day or longer to get the planets to align, so that you had a workable, sharp and dust free negative.
Big stuff wasn’t cheap, think thousands of dollars.
These guys do it, and very well indeed. They print for museums regularly.
Every pro lab in town used to offer that kind of service, and the remaining analog one still does. But
there were also specialist services which did only really big prints (though not pro quality) and of course
outdoor advertising agencies which could turn any shot into a giant billboard. I find the current fad of
turning small originals into huge museum displays to be nauseating pretentious posturing - essentially billboards themselves, though generally inkjet. Garish billboards don't belong in museums. But at the moment, it's big for the sake of big. The next artsy wave will be Minox contact prints - small for the sake of small. I once had a color mural enlarger so damn powerful it would punch a six-foot wide masked Cibachrome in a matter of seconds. It probably would have burned a hole in black and white
paper. I got rid of it. Just the cooling fan used more electricity than my entire house.