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Thread: Matting prints centered

  1. #11
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Matting prints centered

    Years ago I cut mat windows and mounted prints with the image slightly above center. No longer. Now it is usually 10x14 prints centered in a 1" larger window which is also centered in 16x20 mats. Precut mats ordered in quantity are as inexpensive as 16x20 mount board. They can be used for portrait or landscape formats. After decades of exposing and projecting 35mm Kodachrome, the idea of making the image capture fit the format is second nature. My customers in rural Missouri appreciate the price savings. Of course, in a sophisticated upscale market, other rules prevail.

  2. #12

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    Re: Matting prints centered

    It semms there are no rules, but I can't understand some people can't see the optical deception...

    I always make sure, there's more space under the image. as much as possible, the same spacing on the other three sides.

    Except for one (interesting) format: the square format.
    Here the format is so dynamic, that you can have the same border size all around the image.

  3. #13
    jadphoto
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    Re: Matting prints centered

    The convention is to offset slighty higher as stated above. There is an optical illusion the makes a centered image look lower on the mat.

    The reason pre-cut mats are centered is simple. They can be used for both vertical and horizontal images. It just makes sense from a marketing perspective. Doesn't mean it's right though.

    JD

  4. #14
    tgtaylor's Avatar
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    Re: Matting prints centered

    To me an off-centered matt cut, unless so slight that it is impreceptable, is a distraction that calls attention to itself and away from the image. It's original intent was probably to call the viewers attention to the fact that it wasn't a commercially cut matt.

    Across from where I am sitting typing this at the kitchen table there is a 11x14 color print about 10 feet away on the wall above the kitchen TV that is center matted and framed to 16x20 . From my seated perspective it looks, if anything, cut slightly above center but upon standing appears exactly centered.

    To center a print or not is simply a matter of taste.

    Thomas

  5. #15
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Matting prints centered

    I'm in a group show right now in Santa Fe at a museum-maybe 80 prints all together. It opened last night and I was thinking about this issue. I had no involvement in the matting and framing as I delivered them loose prints, but like me they "centered' the images about a quarter to half an inch above center depending on print and mat size.. They all look perfectly centered. We had a dinner later at the Verve Gallery same thing.

    Slightly above center is (FWIW) the usual professional standard and has been since I started showing in 1970.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  6. #16

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    Re: Matting prints centered

    I have always bottom-weighted mats. That said, for a show I currently have up, given the image and frame sizes, and the fact they were mixed horizontal and vertical, it made the most sense to center them. I did this with quite a bit of trepidation as it was something I was always told strongly not to do. I was pleasantly surprised at the results—they look quite good. This is a group of 35 photos and the logistics of framing that many told me what to do. If I was framing individual photos I would still make the bottom margin larger, but I can certainly see how this is a matter of taste and not rules.

  7. #17
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Matting prints centered

    There is a standard method for "optical centering" on a matte. Here's a page that explains and also has a little calculator to figure it, and even an app for your smart phone/android.

    Personally, I "eyeball" mine, as I find the above method is sometimess off visually, at least to me. I have a few templates I use to position prints/plates, then spacers to draw lines at the proper distance for the area around them.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  8. #18
    ROL's Avatar
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    Re: Matting prints centered

    Quote Originally Posted by tgtaylor View Post
    To me an off-centered matt cut, unless so slight that it is impreceptable, is a distraction that calls attention to itself and away from the image. It's original intent was probably to call the viewers attention to the fact that it wasn't a commercially cut matt.
    Just to be clear, the whole point of bottom–weighting is to fool the human eye into the accepting the work as being centered on its support. This can become quite problematic with works of more oblong dimension, requiring some degree of aesthetic rigor. Obvious and visible off-centering of the work, a choice preferred by some (not me), is another matter.

  9. #19

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    Re: Matting prints centered

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sawyer View Post
    There is a standard method for "optical centering" on a matte. Here's a page that explains and also has a little calculator to figure it, and even an app for your smart phone/android.

    Personally, I "eyeball" mine, as I find the above method is sometimess off visually, at least to me. I have a few templates I use to position prints/plates, then spacers to draw lines at the proper distance for the area around them.
    Your link did not post but I found the optical center information in Way Byond Monochrome.

  10. #20
    Photographer, Machinist, etc. Jeffrey Sipress's Avatar
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    Re: Matting prints centered

    Interesting. I've been matting and framing my own work for about 8 years. I've heard of the 'slightly higher than center' approach, yet I've matted hundreds of pieces of my own and others always on center, and have had eleven shows/exhibitions of my work. No one has ever commented that the images were not offset. Nothing has ever looked odd or appeared to be 'falling out' the bottom. I have seen presentations of work of small size prints, from polaroid to 8 x 10, where the images were put in much larger matts and offset towards the top by a few inches, to achieve a desired look. I kinda thought they were falling out the top.

    To the OP: Do you never crop your images? Purchasing a group of identical pre-cut mats indicates that. Cropping is your most powerful compositional tool. Every images tells me, along with my experience and study, if and how it should be cropped, although some require none. Therefore, most images have a unique size which requires a matt cut just for it.

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