mounting prints on ... white ... buff ... or black?
The most common thinking on this is to mount on either white or buff matte board. I do not understand this standardization and these are the reasons why:
1) One would think, in purely objective terms, that the presenter would want the eye to be drawn into, towards, the (important) 'light' and not have the (peripheral) matte board light competing with the print. (But, perhaps, a valid counterargument would be that the surrounding brightness allows the eye to be drawn into the density of the print.)
2) One's eyes are taxed a bit more when having to see so much brightness surrounding the focus of attention.
3) A black matte board presents an empty space; a 'nothingness'. The print, thus, becomes the only important element therein, and, thus isolated, is able to attract more visual attention.
I would like to hear both objective and subjective arguments for or against the options. - David Lyga
Last edited by David Lyga; 01-18-2015 at 05:23 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I always liked gray (roughly equivalent to Zone IV in the prints) that matched the tone (color) of the prints because it provides contrast to both bright and dark areas of the prints. If the print was overall gray then the matte just added to the "grayness".
Perhaps that gray surrounding is now legitimatized in this instance, becoming a 'standard' for judging the continuum of tonal variations within that print. And you are correct with asserting that on a low contrast print (i.e., overall gray) the blending would then become counterproductive. - David Lyga
Last edited by David Lyga; 01-18-2015 at 05:24 PM. Click to view previous post history.
In the past I've done both, and chosen-subjectively-which one looked better in terms of setting off and drawing attention to the print. I have a print in my office made on Portriga Rapid and the window mat is a dark red, it really adds to the effect.
There's a whole school of thought on this sort of thing, but something I haven't investigated much.
There's even a line of TVs (Philips?) that have coloured light projecting out the rear of the TV to colour / brighten / dim the wall behind it, based on what was on the screen at the time.
Whether you believe the ads or not, and all the variables with all the different viewing conditions in peoples' houses obviously makes it rather subjective as to whether it works or not.
But still, I find that a lot of my prints look better on black, with 4x5 contact prints I don't use easel blades, I burn the borders black.
All of my digital shots and scanned negs look better on my screen with a dark-grey background.
I even paid for a Smugmug site because it was customisable enough to put a black background on, I hate Flickr's white background, hurts my eyes.
Even the desktop-backgrounds on my various operating systems are all black or near enough.
In short, I vote black.
An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.
f/64 and be there.
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It depends. . . . A print floated on a slightly off-white mount board appears brighter than if mounted on white.
When we consider each mounted print by itself, a mount board can well be selected to enhance the appearance or mood of that print. However, when many of one's prints are shown together, coherence of the entire show should be considered.
A quality image intended to be digitally displayed needs no mat unless the mat is a significant reason for displaying the image.
Right... I understand. I often preferred overall light prints on black matte and overall dark prints on white matte. The gray-ish prints are difficult. At any rate... how does one provide homogeneous observation of one's work, both light and dark... and gray? I say on dark gray.
Originally Posted by David Lyga
some prints i mount on white board
if it is a white image, like a night view as a negative
( that looks like a pencil sketch ) or there is a lot of white
in the print i might mount in with black mat board ...
One of the necessity in making prints last is to process and use all archival medium. This medium must be stable in size and chemical make up for long term. As far as I know, all colored pigment or dye change in time and potentially affect the artwork. If you mount the artwork onto a mount board, medium and the artwork is touching each other. If you permanently mount it, such as dry mounting, if the mount board goes bad, you cannot remove the artwork without causing damage. They are, for all intensive purposes, permanently attached.
One of the accepted and most standard is to use uncolored and natural rag boards, which is either white or off white.
Another thing is, use of off white has an advantage in black and white imagery. Pure white will look whiter than not-so-white natural color of off-white mountboard. For your eyes, it enhances the whiteness of the white (of the print). Blacks on print stands on its own without competing with color on the white board. If you used black mount board, you run the risk of making blacks on the print not-so-black. Your eyes determine color density in relative terms, not in absolute.
That's all I can share with you.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
I like to use black. Most of my work is shot on infra red. the strong blacks look better on black mats.