With the popularity of social media, many pictures unfortunately never get past a tiny smartphone screen. Digital photo sharing has become the endgame for most photographers. But as a photography teacher, I always encourage my students to create fine art photography prints because the satisfaction that comes from creating your own wall art is unmatched. Having something tangible that can’t be deleted with a single mouse click is what photography’s all about.
So in this video, I’ll show you how I take a medium format film negative from capture, to scan, to print, to framing. Although this print wasn’t made in the traditional darkroom, the quality from my Epson V750 scanner coupled with professional grade printing techniques resulted in a superb print worthy of framing.
This first of two videos in “Making a Fine Art Photography Print” shows my unique scanning process and how to prep the file for print using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. In the next video, we’ll look at the how to deckle the edge of watercolor paper to create an awesome “raw” look to your fine art.
The photography print I made in this video is from a scanned 6×7 negative shot with a Mamiya RZ67 camera in Joshua Tree National Park. The film used was Ilford Delta Professional 100 medium format film. The scanner used is an Epson V750 with SilverFast software. I used watercolor paper and had it float-mounted in a shadowbox frame.
View “Making a Fine Art Photography Print (2 of 2)”:
View the on-location video where I took this photo:
Ground glass by Hopf Glass:
Printing by Pro Photo Connection in Irvine, CA:
Framing by Salamon Art in Fountain Valley, CA:
Nick Carver Photography Main:
Online Photography Courses:
Orange County Photography Classes:
I decided recently that it's time to make a new fine art piece so a print framed ready to hang on the wall all done ready to go something you would buy at a gallery and lately all my pictures have just been shared digitally and I found that to be just leaving me wanting a little bit more it feels kind of empty feels like I'm not actually done so I wanted to create this piece so that I could kind of rekindle my love for the final product which is the print hanging on the wall now the picture I'm going to do is one that I took in Joshua Tree National Park a while back it's a Joshua Tree in fog and I actually did an on location video of me taking these pictures so I thought it'd be kind of cool if you had seen that video you might want to see the whole process of getting it printed and so I'm going to be taking this negative which is a six by seven black-and-white negative on ilford Delta film I'm going to be scanning it on an Epson V 750 scanner and printing it on watercolor paper now I've never done watercolor paper before in a framed piece watercolor paper is done with inkjet printing and I'm really not a big fan of inkjet printing I tend to stick to light jet printing whenever I can because I feel like it has much better quality but I really want to use watercolor paper on this picture because I think the texture in the watercolor paper is going to add a ton to this shot so I'm going to be scanning it getting it printed locally at a lab called pro photo connection there in Irvine California they do great work they're going to print it up for me and then I'll take it to a framer and have them frame it up for me and the way I'm going to be framing it is a little different than anything I've done before too so I'm going to be float mounting the print in a shadow box with a deckled edge and the deckled edge is going to be where it has kind of torn looks so the edges actually look like they were torn away and I think that's going to further add some interest to this piece going to give it a nice raw you'll to it now for the real hardcore film fanatics out there you're probably disgusted at the fact that I'm not doing this in the dark room but truth be told I just don't have a darkroom where I can print this big it's much more economical much more logical and much easier to just scan the negative get it printed and I'll just do it that way but the very first thing I do before I get going on a piece is I do a digital mock-up of it in Photoshop just to work out the proportions how big it's going to be how much border to do around the picture all that kind of stuff just to get an idea of how it's going to look and I've already done that so I just need to scan the negative now I know what size I'm going to do and after I scan that starts the tedious process of cleaning up the negative preparing it for print cleaning up the dust and all that kind of stuff and then it will be off to the printer so let's start by getting it all scanned the way I scan my negatives probably make a real photo technician just disgusted so what I do is I mount the negative on some ground glass is actually an 8 by 10 ground glass you know for an eight by ten camera and I got this specially made for scanning try and get this so I dry mount it on this ground glass because I hate working with chemicals and I hate putting a scanner fluid on my negatives I know it's supposed to be safe but every time I've tried it really messes up the negative and then I take this ground glass once this is all taped down and I float it on the scanner glass with these little shims right here and I'm just using painters tape to mask off areas yeah I know this is terrible practice for scanning you're supposed to be much more careful with your negatives never put tape on them and flat mount it with scanner fluid and so on and so on but I've tried it this way I've done a lot of experimenting to try and get the scans coming out how I want and actually this is the best procedure I came out with it might add a little bit of grain because the ground glass but truthfully on this negative I actually like grain and the reason I'm asking it off and taping it is to make the negative perfectly flat so I can get the focus just right and masking it off helps reduce flare from the scanner delicate process but it's worked well for me it's ground glass by the way is made by Steve Steve hop it hop glass calm I've had a lot of ground glass ordered from him in the past and there's really great work I'm using painters tape because doesn't leave any gunk behind the reason I use ground-glass by the way instead of just regular glass is the ground glass part of it the ground glass side makes it so the negative doesn't stick to it and get Newton rings it's a weird way I'm doing this I know what works works I used a silver fast ate with my Epson v7 52 scan scanning this at 4800 pixels per inch just going to give me a huge file black and white it's at 282 megabytes so that's huge 16-bit scan scanning it's so high-res even though I don't need all that right now just in case I want to print bigger later on no reason to scan it twice and execute so the adjustments I make in silver fast are pretty minimal I treat the exposure a little bit and then I basically flatten out the contrast so that I have as much highlight and shadow detail to work with as possible then I take that high-res file and I import it into Lightroom where I'm going to do the bulk of my adjustments so here I'll use the tone curve panel to tweak tones throughout the picture and also use the detail panel to sharpen it and you'll see here I'm toggling back and forth between a different version of this picture that's actually a low-res proof I scanned when I first developed the film because every time I develop new film I do a low res scan at about 900 pixels per inch and once I make my adjustments on that the high-res files I scan later on I can use that as kind of a base to see if I'm on the right track for when I originally envisioned so once I've made the adjustments in Lightroom then it's just a matter of cleaning the dust which is just the most tedious most time-consuming most aggravating process throughout this whole thing especially on a negative because on a negative dust comes out white which makes it so you just can't miss a single spot okay so I got to get to a class I'm teaching tonight so I'm wrapping it up for the day but we did most of the dirty work I scanned it clean the dust which is the real crappy part and tomorrow I'm going to resize it sharpen it prep it for print and send it off to the lab but the good news is once the tough stuff is already done so we'll pick it up tomorrow you