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Contact Prints


Can I get this image in 16 x 20", you may ask?

No.

Each image comes in the size of the negative that created it. Such is the nature of the contact print. The term indicates how the print is made: the negative is in close "contact" with the print paper. There is no enlargement of the negative, so 8x10 negatives give 8x10 prints, and 11x14 negatives give 11x14 prints. Cameras in even larger sizes exist, so there are 20 x 24 inch contact prints that have been created.

By printing directly from the negative without enlargement the print retains the sharpness, contrast, and spatial relations of the original negative - just the way it was presented in the ground glass of the camera. Tiny clumps of elemental silver make up the image on the negative. These are almost infinitely smaller than the "pixels" of modern digital images. Accordingly, the sharpness of a contact print is almost painful to the eye - a pleasurable pain, indeed. There are many hundreds of times more atoms of elemental silver in an 8x10 contact print than there are rods and cones in the human retina. The print sees more sharply than you can. When you look at a contact print for the first time, sharpness of detail and a crisp contrast are immediately obvious. Once you have seen a number of contact prints, it's pretty easy to spot an enlargement, or a digital image. They pale by comparison.

For these reasons, all my images are contact prints. The name says it: Eye Contact.

Every print is treated for archival permanence. What does that mean? Paper and chemicals added to paper are not meant to last indefinitely. A vast majority of the paper prints from the 19th Century no longer exist. Luckily, there have been many improvements in paper and chemistry in the last 150 years, so that your Eye Contact print is designed to last, unchanged, well into the 22nd Century. Close attention to detail in the finest chemical processes, careful washing, and Selenium toning. Selenium is the standard of excellence in photographic prints. Selenium binds with the silver in a photographic print and improves permanence. Prints are mounted with archival grade binding onto the highest quality mounting board. Mats, similarly, are of the finest quality 4 ply museum board.

Increasingly there will be 11x14 contact prints offered as they become available. Watch for them.

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