Recently I have been evaluating the enlargement of photographic images from Bluewater Shore beyond the 15 x 15″ prints that I can make on my Epson 4800 printer. The idea was three-fold; what did this image look like in a larger size (kinda of obvious), if a larger print might be part of my justification to acquire a larger printer (if so, what size; 24″ wide or 44″ wide) and last, how might this image look on a luster paper versus a matte surface?
Marc, one of my friends from the local Photographers Exchange group, has an Epson Pro 9900 (44″ wide) and was willing to make a 22 x 22″ print of Big Raft (Bluewater Shore, above) for me on Epson Premium Baryta paper. It turns out I was also able to evaluate his use of an I-Mac work station versus my current PC equipment (a topic of another day).
The easy question was that a 22 x 22″ print is very impressive. The hard part has always been where to put a much larger printer (with stand) in my cramped second story studio. The 24″ wide printer would be problematic, but even more so with a 44″ wide. Marc has to use a part of his living room for his Epson Pro 9900 which is not going to fly with our family. So for the short term I will need to have others print larger prints when I need these.
The Epson Premium Baryta paper is nice and with it’s slightly warm white’s seems to works very well with the Big Raft image. We also printed a smaller 9-1/2 x 9-1/2″ print on the Epson Premium Luster 260 paper which has more sheen/gloss than the Baryta. The Baryta is similar to the old Kodabromide F enlarging paper’s surface which is more like a soft gloss. Nevertheless, both of these papers show all of the defects in my photographs to a greater degree than the matte paper (Hahnemuhle Photo Rag).
The “artistic” issue is the larger print. All of the small image defects that were evident in the original photograph that I had re-photographed are now very evident with some becoming visually distracting. For the smaller size images in the book (5 x 5″), these defects add to the charm and support the concept that these are found photographs. When the images are enlarged to 15 x 15″ on the matte paper, these defects still appear okay, but in the larger size, the defects are now larger and more visible and this appears further magnified by the luster type papers which does not hide anything.
I know part of my issue, as an old-school analog photographer in the west coast tradition, prints were not to have any defects and if found after the printing; spot them out! A very modern, but not a very contemporary, way of evaluating the print quality. Old photographs can/should appear old, but how “old”?
I am now pretty sure where this is going; I will add another Photoshop layer to selective spot/tweak the defects in the image that seem to bother me most and then print this again for a comparison to determine how the change appears. I had planned to bring the 22 x 22″ print with me to a potential gallery meeting but this will now need to be planned for the late Fall sometime.