These days, as I don't have my own dark room, I print very little. I save printing for what I regard as the best of the shots I take - and print them as large as I feel they will go / to fit the space ear-marked for them. I'll usually have a 35mm neg printed up to 16" x 20" or 18" x 24" if the grain / sharpness allows.
Some years ago (when I did have a dark room) I used to experiment with aspect ratios. Having owned a Mamiya C330 and had access to my dad's Rolleiflex, I got used to composing for and taking a lot of square format shots. Even when using 35mm, I often cropped the print to square.
The funny thing was that people who looked at the square photos on our living room / dining room walls used to ask 'were these taken with a Hasselblad'. I had to come clean and tell them they were taken with an OM1 or OM2n (which confused the hell out of them) but it just goes to prove a couple of things:
First - that it's almost impossible to distinguish what camera took what photo
Second - people assume that you always print using the same aspect ratio of the camera.
Paul Jenkin (a late developer...)
Paul, I agree with you regarding actual print format as opposed to the film format, often being different.
However I noted the moniker of the OP, I figured cropping wasn't really an option.
Surprisingly ( :-) ) I do agree with Ann and Mike.
I usually do not go big with 35mm (or anything else) due personal tastes, rarely bigger paper than 16x12. and I tend to do not crop the stuff unless it's really required, I also tend to respect the format and ratio on the print, that's the reason why I do not use some lenses like the 28mm in 35mm or the 43mm in 6x7, I do not like the ratio over the negative.
/me the green dog
I agree! Years back, when I first read David Vestal's book, he suggested that the "image tells you what size to print it." My first thought was that this was a load of pretentious bull.........he was right. Somehow there's a size that works. I have a studio shot of a broken shell which just didn't work - 5x7, 8x10, 11x14 or 16x20 - until I printed it at about 7x10 on 11x14 paper. Now it's one of my favourites. Strange, but true!!
Originally Posted by ann
"Why is there always a better way?"
Originally Posted by Mick Fagan
I'd assumed the same - but it's impossible to print 36x24mm negs to 8"x10" without cropping, as the aspect ratio is completely different (3:2 compared with 5:4) - unless the whole of the 3:2 image is printed inside an 8"x10" sheet with an odd-shaped border!
Paul Jenkin (a late developer...)
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This is exactly what is done...and then the border is trimmed away after tacking on a piece of dry mount tissue, or the border overmatted up to the image edges. It is known as a 6x9 print (or 6-1/2 by 9-3/4 if you stretch it to the max), and it is how I was taught to print as a beginner.
Originally Posted by Paul Jenkin
I can't believe how many people let paper sizes dictate their print dimensions/ratios. Lots of people routinely crop away large parts of their 35mm image, "destroying" their original composition just so it fits a common size of enlarging paper for no good reason. Its nuts! If you are working for someone who requires a print of a certain aspect ratio, so be it. You know that when shooting, so you can compose for it. It makes perfect sense in that case...but if you are shooting "fine art", this makes no sense whatsoever to me.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 05-12-2009 at 09:19 AM. Click to view previous post history.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
I print either on 8x10 or 11x14 paper from all formats, and if the negative is rectangular I make the image with a 1" border on both papers, which gives me the same aspect ratio on both types (3:4, which I really like whatever 2F/2F says). So 6x8" or 9x12". It makes the image easy to mount and over-mat without having to dry-mount it (I'm trying to religiously simplify my approach and I really don't need to own a dry-mount press).
Then I use 16x20 ArtCare frames with UV glass for everything and cut my own over-mats to fit. Sometimes, if the image is large enough I can re-cut the included over-mat to size.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
If it looks good cropped to fit a piece of 8" x 10" paper then that's how I print it. Otherwise I will print it full frame onto 8" x 10" as Mr 2F/2F suggests.
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.
Usually 20x25 cm paper, with an app. 2 cm white border on all sides. 13x18 to an increasing extent, have begun to like the smaller prints (curiously coinciding with my step up in negative size, apols for straying from the OP).
Paper price plays a role, I would like to print bigger, but have to consider the incremental cost of stepping up in size. Being an amateur, I have no way of passing on the cost.
"We are much more likely to act our way into a new way of thinking than think our way into a new way of acting." - R. Pascale
Personally, I really like two-inch borders on an 11x14 print. So, for a 35mm neg, that's about 7x10.