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  1. #1

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    Finished print lighting?

    This question has been in the back of my mind for a long time but was re-initiated by a comment made by Donald Miller in another thread today. He mentioned seeing some Edward Weston images displayed in less than ideal lighting which basically killed them. When properly lit they 'glowed'.

    I have an print that effectivity relies on texture/tonality in the background to add dimensionality. The area is in the range of zone 3.5 and covers +- 60% of the entire image. There are 2 fence bars that run diagonally through this area which are zone 1.5 - 2 with an accentuated highlight at around zone 9 along the upper edge. After printing and under inspection (daylight) I was very pleased with the dimensionality and in daylight in my lounge is also holds it own. However in the evenings under tungsten/artificial light is looks completely flat, so much so that it is hard to see texture there at all. When I see it in the night I want to take it down from exhibit but then I see it in the morning and want to keep it there. I would love to share this with you but my scanner refuses to pick up the background to my satisfaction as well.

    So my question would be, what is the correct lighting? Or do you print for a particlar lit spot or do you match the lighting to the print? Also what do you do if you want to sell such an image?

    Phill
    It is not tradition that secures the survival of our craft, its the craft that secures the survival of our traditions.

  2. #2
    eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by philldresser
    T

    So my question would be, what is the correct lighting? Or do you print for a particlar lit spot or do you match the lighting to the print? Also what do you do if you want to sell such an image?

    Phill
    OMG! I was *JUST* about to ask the same question. My darkroom is in garage and need a finishing light. I read about those new LED ligts. And 100W lights are just too hot. I notice that when I'm done printing, my prints are lighter cause my garage lights are pretty dim.

  3. #3

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    It is hard to say. I would try a very bright halogen light, probably 50 watts with a narrow angle of illumination.

    Most of my prints look a lot better the brighter they are lit. I am soon going to install a track lighting system and I am pretty sure I will go for the brightest bulb I can find.

    There is no straight answer here. Check the print with different lights and decide what looks best.

  4. #4

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    ALl the good galleries I have been to have even color corrected lighting. Strangely enough museums seemed not to be very up to date with lighting, the one exception is the Houston Museum of Fine arts, that has a very good photography collection and usually has a photography exhibitions hanging besides the other stuff.
    IMO track and spot lighting is too hot and you have to print darker, but then during the day the prints look too dark. I made the mistake of doing this and I am not happy at all, next house will have even lighting.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge
    ALl the good galleries I have been to have even color corrected lighting. Strangely enough museums seemed not to be very up to date with lighting, the one exception is the Houston Museum of Fine arts, that has a very good photography collection and usually has a photography exhibitions hanging besides the other stuff.
    IMO track and spot lighting is too hot and you have to print darker, but then during the day the prints look too dark. I made the mistake of doing this and I am not happy at all, next house will have even lighting.
    Jorge
    All I said was should I print for the lighting that I have, or fit the lighting to the print. Not rebuild the house to suit the print
    Seriously though,what light do you scrutinize your prints under? I vaguely remember reading that an EV7 was a minimum intensity but cant find where I read it to confirm.
    Phill
    It is not tradition that secures the survival of our craft, its the craft that secures the survival of our traditions.

  6. #6

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    Interesting thread. I think that we almost need to print for the lighting in existence. The alternative is to bring light to the level that best depicts the print. I use overhead recessed halogens with rheostats to effect gallery lighting in my home.

    I spoke with Charles Phillips some years ago (he studied under Ansel Adams for a couple of years in the late 70's). Charles tries to determine the lighting conditions that are present when a prospective collector wants to buy a given image.

    Obviously that determination can't take place everytime...some photographers have mentioned using a 75 watt lamp with a dimming rheostat to judge their print values.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by philldresser
    Jorge
    All I said was should I print for the lighting that I have, or fit the lighting to the print. Not rebuild the house to suit the print
    Seriously though,what light do you scrutinize your prints under? I vaguely remember reading that an EV7 was a minimum intensity but cant find where I read it to confirm.
    Phill
    Hmmm, I thought I answered that question. The best lighting would be color corrected fluorescent lighting. The light you should use to assess your prints should be the light you will be showing them under when dry. What I did was make a series of step wedge tests for different contrast, let them dry as I would a print and then examined them under my living room light. When I print I check the contrast I need and look at the step wedges. I know that when dry a certain tone will look a certain way under my living room lights, it does not matter that my darkroom light is a different intensity as long as all is inspected and printed under the same light.

    Happy now?

  8. #8
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    I was plagued with doubts over this several years ago, so I asked the folks at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (CMCP).

    They said, "The standard illumination we use when exhibiting work in our galleries is around 90 - 100 lux. It is a standard that represents a balance between optimal viewing illumination and long term concerns over print conservation. It is not necessarily the optimal lighting for viewing when printing a print - although you should keep it in mind if you are planning to exhibit in museums".

    They also faxed some pages from Henry Wilhelm's book, The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs. Here are some tid-bits from that fax; "2000 lux level...For critical appraisal...when it is desirable to see detail in the darkest tones..." "500 lux level...when it is desirable to judge the way the print would look in what would be considered a brightly illuminated area in a residance, office, or library..." "...this author suggests incandescent tungsten or glass filtered quartz halogen illumination with an intensity of 300 lux on the surface of prints." "If a luxmeter is not available for light level measurements, a single lens reflex camera with a through the lens meter can be used to indicate the proper light level. Place a white sheet of paper in the same location and plane where prints are to be viewed and adjust the camera's ISO setting to 100 and the shutter speed to 1/30 second. Locate the camera so the white paper fills the entire viewfinder, being careful not to cast a shadow on the paper. A light intensity of 300 lux will register an exposure of about 1/30 second at f4.0"

    CMCP's reason for such low light levels was that many kinds of prints could be exhibited together, silver, colour, albumen, etc, all of which can be sensitive to fading in light at different rates.

    The best advice I gleaned from a David Kachel article on making fine prints. He said something to the effect of, "when you are getting close to finishing a print, look at it in different lighting conditions. If it looks good in only one light, it's probably trying to tell you something". I opted for the 300 lux light level for viewing prints in the darkroom, and looking at them in various lighting as well.

    Murray

  9. #9

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    Inline bulb dimmer

    I use an inline bulb dimmer for several applications. For print inspection I have it on full power. For viewing tonality I dim it to a preset mark that is the light level in my living room where I display prints. Using the bulb dimmer at the lower power setting after drying the test print in a microwave greatly reduces dry down and leaves only the effect of toning not seen in the test. It allows me to be certain that I have not printed to light or dark for the viewing conditions that will be used for display. I feel these are about the best $10 investment the darkroom worker can make.

  10. #10

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    Phill,

    If your print looks good in daylight, your room is probably too poorly lit at night. I think you should get down-lighting installed in your living room (ideally, track lighting). Halogen down-lights of 50w work well. Install them about a metre from the wall on your ceiling.

    In our gallery we have down-lights running all the time and we've darkened the windows to stop daylight coming in: we control 100% of the light on our prints. When a friend wants to see what difference there is between track lights versus flouros, I take them into the room and show what the gallery looks like under fluorescent lights. In most cases, they are stunned by the difference. The room becomes flat and dull under the evenly lit fluorescent lighting. (I'm going there now, so I'll post two shots shortly).

    Cheers,
    Graeme Hird
    www.scenebyhird.com

    Failure is NOT an option! It comes bundled with your software ....

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