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Thread: Matting prints centered

  1. #21

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Stevens Point, WI

    Re: Matting prints centered

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Sipress View Post

    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.
    I try to crop as much as possible in camera through changing lenses or camera position.

    I don't have a 4x10 but sometimes I pre-visualize that in camera. But 80+% of the time, the 8x10 (or 4x5) format suits me. That is why I want to keep things simple if possible.

    Also, I don't think I could cut 8-ply and I prefer it to 4-ply mats. So it is much cheaper to buy pre-cut 8-ply windows with bulk discounts if I could standardize to a particular size for the majority of my framed prints.

  2. #22
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Stuck inside of Tucson with the Memphis blues again...

    Re: Matting prints centered

    Quote Originally Posted by jeroldharter View Post
    Your link did not post but I found the optical center information in Way Byond Monochrome.
    Oops! My apologies!
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  3. #23

    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Medicine Hat Alberta

    Re: Matting prints centered

    Quote Originally Posted by vinny View Post
    That's how i've always done it and none of my customers have complained of any prints falling out. The instructor who told me we should make the bottom margin thicker was a horrible teacher and I never understood the "falling out of the bottom of the frame" theory. Who came up with that anyway?
    Your horrible teacher taught the same way as other works on paper instructors teach. I learn that way at college taught by an ex air force photographer and my wife at three different fine art schools. Never heard it was falling out of the bottom but it visually does look off centre when it is centered.

  4. #24

    Join Date
    May 2004
    Montara, California

    Re: Matting prints centered

    First off, I don't think it is central to the artist's job to worry about matting. Which is to say, do it right, like everything else, but if you are talking about running out of time and money it would be better to cut time/money out of matting rather than creating the art itself!

    But if you do do it, I've always found that for larger prints the above center rule doesn't apply as strongly as with smaller prints. But that probably depends on the visual weight of the matt surface versus the print surface--on smaller prints the matt seems more of a factor.


  5. #25

    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    SF Bay Area

    Re: Matting prints centered

    Again, a thread without a single correct answer. It is your work, and your presentation. However, the traditional preference for mounting prints has been to leave a larger bottom margin. I took a quick look around the house and find that Ansel, Caponigro, Weston, Sexton, Baer and Garnett all preferred this method. Also, it is worthwhile noting that none of the aforementioned prints were provided with a window overmat.

    The window mat, in my experience, originally came about as a museum presentation, or at the request of a purchaser of a print. In either case, the original weighted preference of the photographer can be overcome by a larger window overmat provided by the purchaser. So, the decision is yours; if you prefer a weighted look, provide the overmat, while acknowledging that any future alteration or presentation is out of your control.

    If you look at the really stellar books of photography, you will note that the images are never centered. I think this same concept carries over to prints on the wall. Again, personal preference.

  6. #26

    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: Matting prints centered

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk Gittings View Post
    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.
    I totally agree with this method of display.

  7. #27

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Forest Grove, Ore.

    Re: Matting prints centered

    I often center my prints within the cutout and sign on the back. So, I don't need the extra room on the bottom for a signature. Through experimentation, I tend to like a 9mm border between the print edge and the edge of the cutout. But at the same time, I raise the cutout so that the over-mat is bottom heavy. Perhaps this helps the print not look low when it's centered within the cutout.

    What used to drive me crazy was deciding how much to raise the cutout for different sized prints. I'd try to visualize different heights so see which would look the best. It had to "feel" just right. Like I say, it drove me crazy. For example, if I was mounting different sized prints, some would look unnecessarily higher than others. They wouldn't look right together.

    But during a workshop with Steve Anchell, I was introduced to a special ruler one can purchase that raises the cutout in a systematic way. I forget how the thing worked, but taking some measurements, I determined that it worked to the following simple formula:

    T = 0.45*(Lm-Lp)

    where T is the width of border from the top edge of the mat to the cutout, "Lm" is the vertical length of the mat, and "Lp" is the vertical length of the print. One can determine the width of the bottom border by subtraction: B = Lm - T - Lp. In other words, subtract the top border and the vertical length of the print from the overall vertical length of the mat, and what remains must be the width of the bottom border. The width of the side borders of the overmat would both be S = 0.5*(Wm-Wp), where "Wm" is the horizontal width of the mat and "Wp" is the horizontal width of the print. To avoid the obvious problems with fractions using a standard ruler, I measure everything in millimeters.

    To allow for a 9mm border between the cutout and the print, I would make each side of the overmat 9mm less than what the above formulas would indicate. If I didn't want a border around the print (rare for me), I would subtract about 3mm or so from both "Lp" and "Wp" so that the overmat would overlap the print by about 1/16th of an inch.

    But in using this formula, I found that it didn't raise the print quite enough for my tastes. So instead of multiplying by 0.45, I tend to multiply by 0.435, and to my eye, the prints come out just fine. Moreover, if I'm mounting different sized prints, they all look consistent with one another.

  8. #28
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Humboldt County, CA

    Re: Matting prints centered

    The square image presents its own set of possibilities. Some one already mentioned using a square mat with the same size border all around. I have always preferred to mount my square images high on vertical rectangles. Say, a 10x10 image on 20x16 board, mounted 3" to 4" from the top (bottom 6" to 7").


  9. #29
    jp's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Re: Matting prints centered

    Just to add to the "do what you want" .... I use 16x20 frames for everything from 8x8" square silver prints to 13x19" inkjet prints (with the mat covering the borders of the images so it's actually a bit smaller.)

    For the 13x19, there isn't room to make it off center.

    For pretty much everything else, I use 1/2" upward adjustment for verticals (frame orientation), but horizontals are centered. 2/3 of what I do is either vertical or square images mounted in vertically oriented frames. For some reason, square images don't look good in horizontally mounted frames, perhaps because we're used to looking at vertical paper in books, magazines, newspapers, etc...

    Writing down the cutting measurements is helpful in reducing the math and potential errors involved in cutting mats. I also lightly pencil them on the back of the mat, so I know when I'm working with the material that the side I'm preparing to cut is set for the right measurement, and so the verticals which share the same measurement can be cut sequentially before I adjust the mat cutter.

  10. #30
    ROL's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Re: Matting prints centered

    Quote Originally Posted by jeroldharter View Post
    Also, I don't think I could cut 8-ply and I prefer it to 4-ply mats. So it is much cheaper to buy pre-cut 8-ply windows with bulk discounts if I could standardize to a particular size for the majority of my framed prints.
    How about just cutting 2-ply mats?

    Last Saturday my wife persuaded me to stop by the Getty on our way home for the free parking (after 5 PM) and even free–er sunsets. I was interested in seeing the new Pacific Standard Time (60's – 70's LA Art Scene) and Illuminated Paper (watercolor) exhibits. After spending a couple of hours appreciating real art and coming to the inexorable conclusion that I was not nor ever would be a real artist, we ended up at the permanent photography wing, where in the past I have had my personal evaluations nullified, realizing that photography can stand shoulder to shoulder with contemporary art. Not so this time. Clouds is one room of mostly dark vintage and some inexplicable photographs, looking to me as if they had been curated for a high school thesis.

    But here's the relevant part. Intriguingly, a couple of the photos were matted in a particular way I have not consciously encountered before, at a museum. They were overmatted, into the print with 2-ply, with 8-ply windows over them, giving a double windowed presentation. One of these, Adams' Moonrise... was so displayed. The mat actually cut into the photo, something I believe Adams himself would have been none too happy about. In fact, it was the first time I had seen a presentational non dry mounted, floated Adams print.

    What I'm suggesting, and you would have to work this out for yourself, is that you could forego dry-mounting, hinge mount (still deciding on whether to bottom-weight or not), and overmat with 2-ply cut to to each print's dimension. Then order precut window mats of one or two sizes, ensuring that the window itself is large enough to reveal the largest print, using one precut window for several sizes. This could make an effective, professional looking presentation even if one frame/mat size (the largest required) were used for all the prints. Being all of the same frame size, pictures of varying size could be hung on the same wall with a minimum of distraction.

    Though not my personal preference at this time, I am wholly supportive of the archivally acceptable hinge-mounting method, particularly when photographs are printed with a sufficient margin to allow both a signature and overmatting to secure the work against its matting. But if the artist him/herself overmats into the picture proper, at least the artist is making the decision, the same as in flush dry mounting, on exactly what defines the visible area of the work. Just make certain to sign and provide provenance somewhere on the print itself.

    Something else to chew on...

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