Monday, 17 January 2011

Research: Presentation

Like all the other units so far, unit 107 requires us to provide research posts. These posts are not only supposed to back up our own work (showing that we understand the various methods available), but also to provide an insight in to the whole process. For the other units this was all fairly easy. We just had to research various photographers whose research was relevant to our own area, and write about their working methods and how this compared to our own. For the presentation section however, it's slightly different. I've got to admit I was a little worried about trying to find photographers whose methods of presentation were sufficiently interesting to warrant an entire post. I'm sure you'll have noticed this by now, but I have a tendency to use ten words to describe something, when one would suffice. Even a master of piffle such as my self though, would struggle to drag out most photographers presentation methods to my previous word count. Luckily though, all we actually have to do is write about the various methods of presentation, rather than how specific people use them. So, lets get started shall we?


This is the obvious place to start, but even this can be a complicated process to explain. When we talk about printing, we tend to just assume it's just the process of producing a photograph on paper, there are all sorts of methods and materials to do this though:
  1. Silver Gelatin
  2. Chromogenic Dye
  3. Colour Inks
Silver Gelatin Prints

This is the standard method of producing Black And White Images. This process has gone through a number of different evolutions since it's discovery, from early attempts like the Daguerreotype, to Fox Talbot's calotype, and then the development of film rolls by George Eastman. But whatever method was used to produce the final image, the chemical reaction is essentially the same.

You start by producing a light sensitive medium. Whether it's, film, paper, glass plates, or copper plates, you coat your chosen material in a silver based emulsion. The modern method uses silver salts contained in a gelatin, which is applied to the material then allowed to dry. When exposed to light, some of the silver particles separate and this forms what is known as a latent image. The latent image is virtually invisible to the naked eye, so the picture needs to be placed in a developing fluid, this causes the silver to separate further and turn black, which creates the black parts of the image. In order to stop the remaining silver salts from developing when exposed to light again, you then use a fixing chemical, which removes any unused salts, and stabilises the image.

Chromogenic Dye, or C Type Printing

The Chromogenic process is used to produce colour photographs. Chromogenic films and papers are made up of a number of different layers, a silver based layer, like the traditional method of developing, and what are known as dye couplers. When developing the picture the silver based layer produces the latent image, but rather than being developed to turn black, the layer is used as a guide for the dye couplers to add colour to. There are usually many different layers of dye couplers (all either red, green, and blue), each of which creates a certain colour depending on which wavelength of light it is designed to detect. When the different colours are developed and layered on top of each other, they interact and produce a full colour photograph.

Film is designed to be used, and developed in a specific way (usually known as C-41 processing for standard colour film), but if you break the rules, you can actually create really interesting effects. By loading film in to a camera the wrong way round, the red layer will be exposed first, and so all your images will have a red/yellow hue to them when processed. This is known as Redscale photography. Another method is deliberately developing a film using the wrong chemicals, to create a cross-processed look.

Colour Inks

This is what we tend think of when producing photographs today. Running them off on our printers at home, or at work. Although you can buy professional printers that use multiple ink cartridges, most of them will use two, black and colour. Most colour ink printing uses the CMYK method. This system is based on the four colours you need to produce any other shade:
  • Cyan
  • Magenta
  • Yellow
  • Key: Black.
By combining any of the first three colours either in blocks, or using half-toning, you can produce any secondary colour you need. Though you could also produce black by combining the three colours, it doesn't produce a sufficiently accurate representation, so a separate cartridge is used.

Although this system is good enough for most photographic printing, when people want to produce fine art prints, they usually go for a giclee print. Essentially still an inkjet print, the giclee process uses two additional colours to help accurately capture the tonal range of a photograph. CcMmYK as it's known, adds two lighter cyan and magenta inks. Apparently this helps with half-toning, as the lighter inks make the spots less visible.

What To Do With Printed Photographs

Once you've selected the printing method you want to use, you need to decide what to do with the prints. Again you have a number of options:
  • Presentation Wallets
  • Window Mounting
  • Card Mounting
  • Foam board
  • Framing
Presentation Wallets

This is a simple method of showing your photographs. They're usually plastic wallets available in a number of different sizes, which allow you to insert the photograph, therefore protecting it from damage. The better quality wallets come with a stiff insert at the back of each section to help keep the picture rigid.

Window Mounting

Window mounts are usually made from card and have a section cut out of the middle to display the photograph. More usually associated as an insert for a proper frame, they can also be used to sandwich the picture between the window mount and a piece of card. You can have them professionally made for you, or if you buy the right equipment you can create them yourself. Window mount cutting tools can be purchased at a relatively low price, and will often allow you to bevel the edges of the mount to provide a more professional appearance.

Card Mounting

Card mounting on to Card! All you have to do is decide which method you're going to use to mount the picture.

If you want to permanently affix the print , you can use some sort of adhesive. Although you could use a standard glue like PVA, this could damage the paper, and cause unsightly creases and folds. You're better off using a spray adhesive specifically designed for the purpose. This will ensure a smooth application of the glue and minimise the risk of damage. The only danger is inhalation of the glue, so you need to do it in a well ventilated area. You could also use double sided tape to fix the print, but again you're best bet is to use a proper mounting tape, as unlike normal tape, the chemicals present won't leech out over time, potentially damaging the paper.

If you don't want the mounting to be permanent, you can purchase small transparent mounting corners, which can be applied and removed at anytime.

Foam board

Foam board is made up of three layers, A polystyrene centre with paper, or card on either side. Incredibly rigid, it's a great material for mounting prints to.

All the same methods as mounting on card can be used with foam board, but with the added bonus of greater structural integrity.


Framing is the best option in my view. Not only does it offer the maximum protection for your pictures, but by choosing the right frame to match your picture, you greatly enhance the impact it has.


There are two methods of projection: Printing on to a transparency/Slide, or using digital files.

Printing on to a transparency, or slide is the more traditional method, but is a very limited option. All it allows you to do is show your photograph on a larger scale.

Projecting your images using digital files offers you a greater number of options. Like the more traditional method, you can choose to load and show your images one at a time, but if you combine the digital files with a slide show, you can add all sorts of effects, to help improve the viewing experience.

Slide show

Again you could create a slide show using the traditional method of creating slides, and using a slide projector, but a better option, is to create a digital slide show. You can either create a slide show using a desktop based programme: windows movie maker, apple iphoto, microsoft photo story, picasa, or photoshop. Or, you can use a web based programme Like: smilebox, or slide.

The benefits of producing a digital slide show, are that the software allows you to integrate, transition effects, music, create collages. All sorts of things are possible.

You can also view a digital slide show on multiple formats: projector, computer, embed it in to a website.

I'll post this now, but add more soon.

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