Video: Wall Mounting My 8x10 Large Format Enlarger For Making Black & White Fine Art Prints

July 10, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

In this video, I share my latest update on wall mounting my Beseler 810V-XL 8x10 large format enlarger for making 40x50 and 30x40 large format silver gelatin darkroom prints.

I hope you enjoy the video and be sure to share which enlarger you are using to make your prints in the comment section below. 

BACKGROUND

It would seem that the vast majority of photographers today are either making small darkroom prints at home as part of their hobby or those that are printing at the 40x50 size or bigger are most likely scanning their negatives and making some type of computer-driven digital output as part of their art sales.  I want to be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with scanning and making digital prints, it just isn't the same as making the same size prints by hand in the darkroom and most importantly for me, it isn't part of my creative vision.  

I think it is reasonable to assume that most photographer's today could be taught how to properly scan their films and then send that digital file to a lab for making their prints in the matter of a few days.  The only stumbling blocks would be having enough money to purchase a suitable scanner and computer system, and even then, they could outsource the development, scanning, and printing processes thereby eliminating their need for everything but a computer and a program like Photoshop.  

On the other hand, if you want to make big prints in the darkroom, you have a variety of challenges that you will need to solve before that is even possible.  First, you simply need the knowledge and experience to tackle something this big.   Everything you do is magnified and more complex.  Just the handling of the fiber paper during the development process is a challenge to keep from damaging and ruining the prints. Because we are dealing with a physical medium, the issue of space is a huge obstacle to overcome for most photographers, even if they have the knowledge to make large darkroom prints.  When you print 30x40, 40x50, or bigger in the darkroom, you have to want it really bad because there is a long road of challenges that will stand in your way.  

WHY PRINT THIS BIG?

Why would I be crazy enough to make large prints by hand in the darkroom in our modern digital-driven world today?

Probably as important as any reason, I love the process. I love everything about it.  I love using large format view cameras and since my most used format is 8x10, my choices are either to make contact prints or if I want to make enlargements, I need to jump off the edge of the cliff and build a custom solution using an 8x10 enlarger.  I have been previously making 30x40 and 40x50 prints from 4x5 negatives and a custom solution that I built to make that happen.  With 8x10 being four times the size of 4x5, the level of quality for my type of photography will be taken to new levels.   

I enjoy nature, being outside and connecting with the serenity and peace of the outdoors.  I share my love and appreciation of nature through my fine art prints and I deeply enjoy connecting with collectors and fellow large format photographers.  I am fascinated with flowers, trees, rivers, and wide open spaces in the mountains.  In our modern technology-centric society, people are getting further and further away from nature.  I hope to inspire people to get outside and have their own experiences.  For my collectors, I want to provide them with something special that is rare and unusual.  

When you step into a room with a large format silver gelatin print that has been properly mounted, framed and in the right lighting, it is breathtaking.  I remember seeing one of Clyde Butcher's large prints for the first time in person.  I was simply awestruck.  I realized the size, scale, and clarity of Clyde's mural-sized black and white silver gelatin prints allowed me to be taken on a visual and emotional journey that I had never been on before.  

Many years before that experience, I had the good fortune of attending a private viewing of Ansel's large prints.  I could barely believe my eyes.  I would look at his prints in almost disbelief and then turn away to rest my eyes and mind because I could not fully understand or process how someone could create something so magnificent.

Clyde and Ansel are heroes to me.  They make me want to keep going and make artwork that is connected to higher-level causes and meanings.  Both men are well-known advocates for nature and I also share that same level of passion with them.  

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