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The Big Picture

Posted in PHOT 152, PHOT 265 by Paul Turounet on September 24, 2008


Recent History: Photographs by Luc Delahaye (A Rally of the Opposition Candidate Alexander Milinkevich, Minsk, Belarus, 2006) at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, California


How big the picture?

Until recently, photographers printed their work on materials manufactured in a pre-determined size. Most often, photographs were printed 8″x 10″, 11″x 14″ or even 16″x 20″ as this scale was manageable in a darkroom and could be carried in a box under the arm. However, during the past thirty years, the scale of photography has been getting bigger and bigger, anywhere from 30″ x 40″ to the scale of Delahaye’s photographs which are comparable to paintings. As a product of commerce in the art market, as the photograph is enlarged, so to is the selling price.

In considering this shift in scale, it is important to reflect on the very nature of scale. Photographs printed small- and medium-scale reveal a sense of intimacy, requiring close-up and detailed looking on the part of the viewer. With the photograph matted and framed, the notion of preciousness is suggested within an exhibition context. In contrast, with large-scale photographic works, 30″ x 40″ and larger, the image asserts a sense of physical presence as well as a status generally associated with painting as well as other contemporary art practices, including installation and video. The significance of the content and image details become more visible and pronounced due to the sheer scale of the work, requiring the viewer to stand-back and initially view the work as a physical experience.



Select an image you’d be interested in printing as an enlargement to a minimum size of 17″x 22″.

It is recommended that you select an image that you’re not only interested in, but reflects optimum camera work, image exposure and processing execution.

Prior to making to making the enlarged print, it will be necessary to make a smaller reference print that reflects optimum technical execution, including overall density, contrast, color balance as well as burning/dodging. If working in the darkroom, it is recommended that a Printing Record has been utilized as a reference of the printing execution. The smaller print will function as a visual reference to match density (global and local) and contrast when making the larger print.

Print an enlarged photographic print that reflects the optimum technical craftsmanship of the smaller reference print.



For the presentation (see Calendar for Due Date) and evaluation, please complete the following:

One (1) 8-1/2″ x 11″ digital reference print and one (1) enlarged photographic print (17″x 22″) made in the Grossmont College Digital Photography Lab.

Each print is required to be finished, but it is not necessary to mount. Turn-in prints for evaluation and feedback.



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