Although somewhat different from the opinions mentioned in the previous posts in this thread, there is another aspect of contact printing that makes it absolutely central to the whole photography experience.
The contact is where you actually study the result. I never start enlarging after developing the film. First of all, I make my contact sheet and take a thorough look into it. Sometimes I mark one or two photos I like. Then, I leave it for 2-3 weeks, just to let the thoughts associated with the moment of taking the picture fade away. If I still like the same pics, then I will print them in 10x15cm. Leave them for 2-3 weeks and if I still like them, then I say I have a picture worth enlarging.
As you can understand, I am talking about the 135 format, making it more difficult to actually "see" the picture behind the contact.
Oh, and another thing: contacts might flatter the image sometimes, but in 99% of the cases, you can see a good picture from the contact.
All in all, a very educational process in photography.
I was looking at my old Hasselblad negatives and decided to see how my compositional skills have changed since my move to 8x10 8 years ago. The 6x6 negs look pedestrian, rushed, assembly-line like. My 8x10 negatives seem more controlled. I notice more unwanted foreign object intrusions in the top, bottom and corners of my 6x6 negs. But I thought that being smaller I can make sure nothing gate crashes on these areas. I think that because it was easy to just click click away I probably did not bother so much outside of the central area of the viewfinder. Whereas with the 8x10 I WANT to take the loupe to every nook and cranny of that groundglass before I even consider metering the scene.
Your experience and mine are very similar, although I haven't at it near as long. I started LF with a 4x5. Not having a 4x5 enlarger at the time, I was contact printing on enlarging paper. One thing led to another and a few months later I had the 8x10 (plus a borrowed 4x5 enlarger). The 8x10 just is a joy to work with. There's no squinting down to see the image. That problem even existed with the 4x5. For once, I felt like I was really studying the image, like I can see every square millimeter of it. That for me is the real joy. The image comes out just like I saw it on the ground glass. And the ground glass doesn't lie.
I don't have a scanner at the moment, so I haven't tried this since I thought of it, but...
Let's say I have a 6x6 negative, I want to digitize it for web display, and I have no scanner that can do film, and no enlarger for that size of negative. I know that in the past, I did scan Polaroid SX-70 prints on a cheap flatbed. That ended up plenty large enough for web display. In fact, I had to reduce the image size to fit the monitor. So, I though, what if I just contact printed the medium format negatives, and then simply scanned the resulting 6x6 or whatever prints? How would that turn out? Anyone try this?
Ive found that you can use a small portable light box to "backlight" a slide or negative and just use the normal reflective setting on a flatbed scanner (same one youd use for scanning a picture torn out of a magazine or what not). I have an Epson 3170 and it only accomodates up to medium format negs/slides so I use a small 5x7" light box to back light my 4x5 negs under a loose sheet of 8x10 glass. works pretty well Ive found.
in regards to contact printing. I am somewhat of a grommet to largeformat shooting. but Ive managed to go through hundreds of 4x5 sheets of film in the 6 months since I got my Crown Graphic and moved onto my cambo. Ive enlarged alot of them and been pleased with the resulting 8x10. But like all are saying.... I feel something different with the few I have contact printed. The image seems honest and true to form. thats what I saw thats how I envisioned it with all its proper (or improper) exposure/composition etc etc.
I am yearning for an 8x10 to be honest.
4x5 seems to be a stepping stone to where I would like to eventually be.
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Me too. I love my 4x5 contacts- "jewel like" is a perfect description for the better ones. I love my new Shen H, but I am really itching to get an 8X10 and try Azo, platinum, and alt proc's....I have a feeling once I do so, my 45MRX will be gathering dust...
Unfortunately if I spend any more $$ on photo/art gear this year I'm gonna get killed (sound of whip cracking).
Yeah - I haven't used my Shen-Hao since I got the 8x10 Wehmann...
Originally Posted by mobtown_4x5
It's a slippery slope, Mobtown. Azo 2, Azo 3, save yourself! Too late for me!
Everything is analog - even digital :D
I think that's what's happened to me. I tried contact printing some 4x5 negatives as Ziatypes and now just can't wait to try 8x10. I just need to load up some 8x10 film right now.
I have the same suspicions for the same reasons Matt.
Been reading this thread with real interest. Mainly because I've been trying everything to get the tonal range and details of the orig 4x5 contact print into my enlargements. New lens, papers developer etc .... nothing seems to quite get there.
So I've often thought about 8x10 but wondered: considering 8x10 is only 4x the film area in size, is it really worth the hassel that comes with the more bulky equipment? Would be very interested in the responses from those doing it.
My thought process now goes somewhat along the lines of: Do I really want to spend the time to take this picture with a 4x5 or 5x7, when I know that I will only be satisfied with a 8x10 (or larger) contact print? So yes, it absolutely is worth it, UNLESS you are travelling with your wife and family. Then you need to adopt the precautionary principle and realize that you won't be able to afford to shoot 8x10 and ULF when you're paying alimony and child support.
Originally Posted by John McCallum
Last edited by clay; 07-07-2004 at 08:48 PM. Click to view previous post history.