The Ultimate Tip For Sharpening Very Large Prints (hint: it doesn't involve Photoshop)

June 02, 2018  •  2 Comments

Tim Layton With 8x10 Large Format View CameraTim Layton With 8x10 Large Format View Camera Would you like the ultimate tip for sharpening very large prints?  

You will likely either find my answer annoying or possibly insightful.  I will let you be the judge of that.  If you are up for it, continue to read the rest of this article.  

There is so much talk about a variety of Photoshop techniques and sharpening is one that routinely surfaces.  It would appear that the world "assumes" everyone is creating prints with digital cameras and editing them in Photoshop before printing them on some type of computer-driven printing system.  

I have a news flash....Not everyone needs Photoshop, nor do all photographers need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on computers, scanners, software, massive storage devices, digital camera bodies, and all of the other technology that modern photography has swindled the vast majority of photographers into buying and continuing to buy, year after year.

Before you get mad and send me some hate mail, I totally understand and acknowledge the relevancy of modern DSLR cameras for certain subjects and scenarios.  However, I think it is foolish to assume that all photography should default to digital capture and electronic printing.  

I don't need to know anything about the latest sharpening technique in Photoshop to create the ultimate fine art print on the planet.  I have a solution that produces the absolute sharpest and clearest ultra-large fine art prints in the world. It is simple, doesn't require constant upgrades, and it is the gold standard in quality and archival permanence.  My solution only requires three very simple things...a large format view camera, sheet film, and an enlarger.  If you don't believe me, then I would suggest you find a way to view one of Clyde Butcher's ultra large silver gelatin prints. Clyde is internationally known and his mural-size prints.  His artwork is readily accessible in a number of high-end galleries, to include his own in Florida.

If I haven't made you mad, then I hope I have at least raised some awareness about the notion that every photographer needs an expensive digital camera, a high-end computer system with massive storage capabilities, and an expensive inkjet printer that drinks ink and empties your bank account faster than you can make a new deposit. You can still make beautiful and superior prints with very simple film cameras and a basic darkroom.

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Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Rolf, good observation... but really not needed with LF sheet film in my opinion. Another path for a perceived increase in sharpness is choice of developer (e.g, Pyrocat HD semi-stand, or XTOL 1:1).
Rolf Schmolling(non-registered)
Hi Tim, I actually would have expected something an analog unsharp masking technique… to enhance edge sharpness, but one needs a negative carrier with a registered pin system and a lot of precision…
Cheers, R.
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