Optical centering of a mounted print

KenS

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A few weeks ago i was making a diagram of 'finding optical center for the the positioning of a print for 'framing'
While doing so "She Who Must Be Obeyed' inquired as to what was doing with a print and a new mounting board... I then explained and showed her the 'difference' on some of the framed prints on the 'living room' wall and (bless her heart) she went online and found a web page with diagram.

I inquired of Ian if he was 'aware' of the method and invited me to post the 'machanical means' of doing it the best way. I somehow got 'way-laid' and forgot to do so 'while the iron was hot' but now I re-found that web page rather than drawing it out 'all my byself '(as my daughter use to say those many many years ago). I have posted the web-page below

I honestly suggest that you try it for yourselves.... I find it works 'wonderfully'... so much more 'artistic' than slap-bang in the middle of the mountboard

The means may be found at 'http://www.russellcottrell.com/photo/centering.htm)

Ken

Any and all 'positive' or 'negative' but any feed-back will be welcomed. (Please forgive the unintended pun)
 

David M

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Thank you. I dimly recall seeing something similar but like you, I lost it. It certainly looks convincing
My own first attempt is always to have equal side and top borders and then adjust from that.
It always astonishes me that anyone with ten fingers and a brain still clings to the Imperial measuring system of The Tyrant George III and continues to calculate with fractions.
 

JimW

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#3
Had to do optical centering in (litho) print college. As David M said, equal side to side, and adjust from that. Quite scary how close to mathematical calculation your own eye can get all on its own.....
 

David M

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Jim,
Yes, it just seems to sit nicely when you get it right. You do need a quiet mind while doing it.
 

Alan9940

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Wow, much too scientific for my pea-brain! :D I just position the print & mat following the scales on my drymount jig, then raise the print a bit 'till it looks right on the board. Ya might say it's...optically aligned! ;)
 

KenS

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Alan,

There's not much in the doing of that method 'in the way of 'science'. There were many 'artista of the time' who tried to 'discredit' Fibonacci when he proposed his theory of the 'Golden mean" which appears in NATURE on a 'regular' basis.
If you don't like it... don't do it,....But sometimes 'Taking the road 'less travelled' is somewhat 'nicer' and often 'easier'

Ken
 

Alan Clark

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Ken, as far as I can judge there is nothing in the link you posted that has anything to do with the Fibonacci number series or the Golden Mean (Golden Section).
What the link does deal with -in a very long winded manner - is how to get a best fit when the overall dimensions of the mount aren't ideally suited to the ratio of the image.
A much more sensible to proceed is to
1. Work out the width and height dimensions of the window - based on the image itself.
2. Decide on the width of the sides of the mount. Make the top the same.
3. Decide on the width of the bottom of the mount - conventionally about 10% more than the sides and top.
4. Work out the overall mount size from the above measurements.

If you prefer to stick to standard sized mounts, perhaps to fit standard sized ready-made frames, then fair enough. Use the information in Ken's link. But for a proper job, without compromise, the overall dimensions of the mount are best determined, as above, by the dimensions and ratio of the image itself.

Alan
 

KenS

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Alan,
I was not attempting to imply that optical centering had anything to 'do' with Fabonicci's 1.618:1 ratio. As far as I am concerned should you prefer to place an image 'dead centered' with a frame... then go ahead. Should you place an 8x10
inch print into an 8x10 frame, without a matte you must be 'allowed' to so do.. its is your own choice.
However.. should I chose to head out with my camera and spend 2 to 4 hours (and sometimes more, of my time 'looking' for the one image that I would like to record to film, process, print and eventually have hanging on one of my walls I want to 'show it off' as something created with some artistic merit. Otherwise... I 'could' staple or use some clear sticky tape to make it stay where I felt it looked good.

Ken
 

Alan Clark

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#11
Ken, you don't need to convince me that a good print deserves a well thought out mount. It was me who was trying to convince you!
Rather than use optical centering to get the best out of a mount board of standard or arbitrary size, it makes far more sense to me to begin by working out what size and proportion of mount is needed to enhance the photograph, then cutting a mount accordingly.

Alan
 

David M

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Fibonacci is 1 1 2 3 5 8 13... each term being the sum of the previous two. The Golden Mean is much older. For a post-Renaissance view of systems of proportion, consult Modulor by Le Corbusier.
I think we're all agreed that the "too low" effect exists and that there seem to be several ways of coping with it. More than I'd imagined.
If we print digitally, we are using paper with a proportion of 1:sqrt2, the A-series of paper sizes. This might be influencing our thinking on proportions.
And let's not forget that a mount can slip down in the frame, so there can be a physical as well as an optical effect.

Ken, there's no absolute reason why we shouldn't use staples or sticky tape (clear or opaque) to fix a print to the wall. It might be the most valid expression of what we want to say. Not all points can be made by immaculate matting with museum grade board.
 

Alan Clark

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#13
[QUOTE="David M,


Ken, there's no absolute reason why we shouldn't use staples or sticky tape (clear or opaque) to fix a print to the wall. It might be the most valid expression of what we want to say. Not all points can be made by immaculate matting with museum grade board.[/QUOTE]

Over the years I have seen photographs exhibited in quite a few novel ways. Once, at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, the exhibiting photographer had stretched string round the walls and pegged her photographs to it with clothes pegs, like washing on a line. They were large colour pictures, unmounted and unframed....all pictures of car door handles. It was certainly a cheap way to mount an exhibition. And it looked cheap too.
More recently I saw an exhibition by a Japanese photographer, of black and white photographs of the North York Moors taken with a Wista field camera. This was at the Danby Moors Centre. The photographs were printed on huge sheets of matt paper, each with a strip of hardwood fixed top and bottom. They hung like huge scrolls, suspended by the top strip of wood and weighted down and stabilised by the bottom strip. Very Japanese, and very effective.
More recently, in the gallery at the Ryedale Folk Museum, where I work as a volunteer, a photographer simply stuck her unmounted, unframed photographs to the gallery wall. The wall was dark, the photos were on matt paper and had a generous border round. This acted like a mount by isolating each photo, allowing it to stand out very clearly. The only problem was the photos were ripped to pieces when they had to be stripped off the wall at the end of the exhibition. Not a problem though, as this was supposed to be Art, not mere photography...

Alan
 

David M

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Alan, all excellent points and examples. Thank you.
I had thought of an example where cheap and incompetent mounting might be appropriate. Suppose you were not as blessed as we are in these islands and wished to make point about the cheap and incompetent government you suffered under. You might choose to couple ostensibly innocent images with deliberately crude mounting to avoid the kicked-in door at midnight. Happily, for the purposes of this forum, we are not concerned with government.
I'm sure there are better examples. Environmentalists might chose a similar strategy, framing their pictures with old plastic bottles, for instance.

Martin Parr curated the Brighton Festival one year and all the prints were unframed and hung from eyelets. This was a financial as well as aesthetic decision, I believe. They looked very fine at first but some of the bigger ones tended to droop after a while.
 

Alan9940

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#15
A Drymount Jig? Sounds very technical to me. I just use a steel rule.
No, not technical at all. It's really just a piece of plywood with a scale along the bottom edge, and a T-square with an identical scale along it. Place the matboard between two identical numbers on the bottom scale, place print to be mounted roughly in place on the board, lay the T-square across the print and align via same numbers each side along its scale, square up print along top edge of paper, and position as desired on the board. Tack a couple of corners and toss it in the drymount press. Done! Takes me longer to type this, than to do what I just described.
 

Alan Clark

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#16
Thanks David.
Regarding the Folk Museum exhibition, the inkjet prints that were, unconventionally, stuck to the wall, formed a block of two rows of prints. They faced, on the opposite wall, an identical block of darkroom prints, done on fibre glossy paper, and conventionally mounted and framed. These oozed "print quality" in contrast to the fairly ordinary quality of the inkjet prints opposite. But the framed prints were not very easy to see. The glossy paper caused reflections and the glass caused reflections. You had to shuffle around and move your head around to find the best viewing spot for each print. By contrast the inkjet prints which had simply been stuck to the wall and were totally unprotected, stood out very clearly.

Alan
 

David M

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Alan, I know what you mean – a sort of graduated T-square. I'd imagined something much more elaborate with verniers and lasers and suchlike wonders.

Alan, you're right about framed prints. When the Photographers' Gallery was in its old premises, the spotlights in the ceiling were positioned absolutely perfectly to reflect off the pictures into your eyes, so you had to do a dainty stooping, swooping dance, like some exotic bird's mating display. I lost enthusiasm for it when there was more A4 than image on the wall.
 

KenS

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Providing the attist's statement in a few of my University courses was actually 'harder' than the effort put into 'finding
a 'something' or part of a scene that I wished to record to film. I had to read so much 'bull-crap' about the 'intent' and 'meaning' of my fellow students...how well it had been accomplished was almost enough to drive an 'old man' to drink.

Ken
 
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