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  1. #1

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    Mat Color: Black vs White

    I see a majority of mat's for B&W are white. I am relatively new at this but wondered why black is not used more. Are there circumstances where black mats would be prefered over white? What are the accepted conventions on mat color?

  2. #2
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    for me it has always come down to personal preferance, certain images look good in one, and others look good in the other, I would think it comes down to what you like 99.5% of the time.

    Dave

  3. #3
    jd callow's Avatar
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    They are white, or more likely an off white, because most 'museum quality archival' mats are (not pure) white.

    It also may be because it is so hard to get a black black in B&W, and who wants to be shown up by their mat?

    *

  4. #4
    reellis67's Avatar
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    I think that a black mat closes in the image while a white mat give a more open feeling. Some images work well with black mats, but not all. Pick up a mat with an opening the size of your most common print dimensions in both black and white and lay them on some of your prints. You should see the print differently with each mat.

    - Randy

  5. #5
    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
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    I went to an opening last night that was at a frame shop. The frame shop had done all of the framing and it felt to me more like an advertisement for the framing and matting than the photography. The black and white images were all matted in black and to me it detracted from the images. I don't want the matting and framing to attract attention away from the image.

  6. #6
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    White for prints, black for transparencies to be viewed on a light table.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  7. #7
    Troy Hamon's Avatar
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    I know lots of people must agree with David, because I see lots of black and white prints matted white. But you can in fact find fully archival museum quality matboard in black, though it requires some careful searching. That's my preference, and it's the only matting I use. My complaint with white matting is that it's like having a transparency on a light table without any mat. The glare around the image detracts from your eye's ability to discern detail. White matboard is like an overwhelming glare on any but the most high-key of images.

    IMHO.

  8. #8
    jimgalli's Avatar
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    I once paid Al Weber a fee to critique my portfolio. He loved the work but scolded me for having some mounted on black board and matted with black board. He said while it's currently trendy to do that a museum curator would consider it amatuerish. He also scolded for having the telltale format edge be included in the photo. Apparently the pro's aren't impressed that you have made a contact print from an 11X14 neg and left the edges on to prove it

    I would add that in my own home, more than half the photos are on black board or matted in black, just because that was what pleased me most.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

    http://tonopahpictures.0catch.com

  9. #9
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    One issue for gallery owners and museums is that they want the work on display to have a relatively uniform mode of presentation, and if everyone uses a different mounting style and different colors of mat board, then the whole ensemble looks sloppy.

    If it's all your own work hanging in your own home or a solo show, then it's a different story.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  10. #10
    Flotsam's Avatar
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    I have had prints that have lots of delicate detail in broad highlights but when I print them with sufficient tone, the print looks a bit dull. Mounting them in a dark grey matt visually sets off the lightest tones and snaps up those highlights. That said, I very rarely use anything but White.
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

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