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Old 8th September 2021, 07:45 PM
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Miha Miha is offline
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Default The lost art of contact printing

Well perhaps not lost but forgotten and certainly abandoned. I'm not talking about ultra large sheet contact prints that gained popularity within certain circles, I'm talking about tiny contacts from 120 roll film, 6x9 and 6x6 cm and from 4x5'' film. I have family albums and shoe boxes full of them. Today most would enlarge their negs to 8x10" at least (why bother printing smaller ) However the reality is that photos in the last decade are viewed on tiny smartphone screens, not larger than aforementioned contact prints, and no one seems to complain. Therefore I can't help myself asking fellow FADU members - why do you bother printing large?
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Old 8th September 2021, 08:58 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is offline
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Yes my parents had albums and envelopes full of MF contact prints, usually 6x9s. I think the only reason for this was that in the 30s, 40s and 50s even modest enlargements were so expensive. Had they been able to afford even 5x7s then I am sure they would have chosen these

With only a few exceptions such as family and friends group photos the MF contact sheets are just too small for me

However if printing large begins at 8x10 then I have relatively few of these. 5x7 meets most of my needs

Mike
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Old 8th September 2021, 09:59 PM
alexmuir alexmuir is offline
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I made some MF contacts on Kodak Velox (I think) paper a few years ago. They were quite nice. I still have a stock of the paper, so may give it another go. I remember making 6x6 contact sheets of portraits made at a family occasion. My wife cut them into individual frames, then framed them in little square frames from IKEA. Seen as a group, they look great.
Alex


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Old 8th September 2021, 10:53 PM
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I like to hang prints on my walls at home and in exhibitions, when I get the chance. I get a lot of pleasure, inspiration and insight living with my work and having it on view.

Perhaps it has everything to do with purpose and intention.
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Old 9th September 2021, 02:05 AM
Molli Molli is offline
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I still make them. For a long time it was all I could do with 4x5, but I making little palm sized albums and 'pockets' filled with prints made using a Paterson Contact Printer and old packets of 6x9cm and 6x6 Kodak Velox. They're also useful to show people what I'm doing when they see some of my more unusual cameras and also as gifts when people have allowed me to photograph them.
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Old 9th September 2021, 09:46 AM
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6x6 is, I feel, just too small to be rewarding as a contact print. I make contact proofs of all my negatives and can't imagine them as a final product. There is just so much richness of detail and tone in good medium format negative that it's almost a shame not to print bigger.
What I have done is used 6x6 contacts to make stereo pairs and for that they are ideal.
Like Marty I have some of my favourite images framed and hung around the house. Sizes vary with subject- there are 5x7 inch prints of still life, and some 16x20 landscapes.
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Old 9th September 2021, 11:50 AM
Terry S Terry S is offline
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Although I have mostly printed at 10" x 8" size, during my years in the darkroom, recently I have started making smaller prints on 7" x 5" paper, occasionally trimming it to a slightly smaller size.

It really depends upon the subject but for general viewing or handing around, I do find paper of about 7" x 5" a nice size and is what I've had the majority of my colour prints from holidays etc. printed to.

I keep meaning to contact print my films each time I develop a new one, but with one or two small exceptions, I would think them too small to print individually. I can see the printing of 5" x 4" negatives being a good and probably minimum size for me.

Terry S
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Old 9th September 2021, 12:26 PM
Richard Gould Richard Gould is offline
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When I started, a long time ago now I made contacts from 127 negatives on Kodak Velox contact paper, it was all I could do and I still have many of them

Richard
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Old 9th September 2021, 04:36 PM
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Earlier this summer I made a few 9x12 (cm) gum bichromate contacts.

That's the biggest in camera negative I can make for now.

Really I'd prefer 8x10, it just seems a good natural size for a photograph.

I have a few 8x10 film holders and ambitious plans for next year....

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Old 9th September 2021, 07:11 PM
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Sean, 10x8 contacts are just superb. A friend was good enough to lend me his kit a few years back and I managed about 30 images whilst I had it. Yes, dodging and burning on a contact print is a bit of a challenge but the sharpness and richness you get is just astounding.
The amount of information a sheet of 10x8 captures is hard to grasp. I have one shot taken inside a church; on the far wall is a window, quite small in the frame. Under a strong loupe you can pick out a spider web in a corner of the window. I'd love to swap my 5x4 for a 10x8 kit but I already know I'd want to enlarge- which means a monster enlarger which I couldn't accommodate in my house.


And yes, I have looked at the threads about dark-sheds.
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