14 May, 2015

Very large format envy

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Kookaburra - Toorbul, Queensland [click to enlarge]

When I see very large prints, particularly landscapes, coming out of 24 and 44-inch printers, it's hard not to be envious. It would be easy to dismiss these as wall-hangings rather than art; but there's something elemental about a very large print.

But, to paraphrase, with great size comes great responsibility.

I think I would feel obliged not to just make big prints, but to fill that space with great detail. That, of course presents a whole new set of challenges. (I'm already challenged by my 17-inch printer.)

I was visiting a photography auction website recently. The site was awash with the great names of American photography: Ansel Adams, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Diane Arbus, Gary Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, and Irving Penn.

I was struck by the fact that the great majority of the prints were in sizes below 17 x 22 inches, easily printable on an Epson 3880, 4900, or the new P800.

As you would expect, many of these were gelatin silver prints, and there was even a Type C-print in there (for US$6,600.00). Where the media wasn't mentioned, I would guess that they were pigment ink prints.

I'm not suggesting that I'll be joining that august group mentioned above or commanding their prices, but I have the tools to produce prints with all the range and resolution of those, and with greater longevity (the prints, not me).

The only limitation on modern photographers/printers is our mastery of the art of photography and the craft of printing.

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