Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2004/08/01

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Subject: [Leica] Born At Risk...
From: bdcolen at (B. D. Colen)
Date: Sun Aug 1 21:08:20 2004

Very well put, Peter. 

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of
Peter Klein
Sent: Sunday, August 01, 2004 3:07 PM
Subject: RE: [Leica] Born At Risk...

B. D.:  You've just articulted an unsung General Principle of
that the pixel peepers have never grokked.  Stated simply, "Sufficiently

enlarged, all photos looks like crap. And so what?"

The issue is not what a photo looks like if you magnify it way beyond
anyone can normally see. The issue is how all those crappy-looking
or squares combine in our optic nerves and brains to create the complete

picture, when viewed at a reasonable viewing distance.

The best education in all this is to go to any art museum.  Look at some

Impressionist or Pointillist paintings.  But first, look at them from 
across the room.  Only when you've fully taken in the whole picture, go 
right up to the painting and look at the individual brush strokes.  Then

you see how the parts create the whole.  Next, repeat the exercise with 
large prints in a photo gallery.

When I first got my film scanner, the first thing I did was blow the 
digital files up to 2x and 3x actual pixels on the screen.  I was
at all the little random color speckles and grains I saw.  I was
that what looked like pin-sharp details on a print were fuzzy
at 3x.  It took me a while to realize that if I couldn't see such things
the print, at proper viewing distance, they didn't matter.  They were
in my photography before, it's just that it was not so easy to see them 
blown up out of all proportion.

I think it was easier to appreciate this fact in the darkroom.  You got 
your overall impression of the print in the trays.  If you got too
you'd be snorting fixer.

Now, there are levels above which the fuzzies and the grains and the 
speckles detract from the print.  And when they are just below the 
threshold of visibility, these small building blocks do contribute to
texture and "look" of the picture.  Each one of us has our own ideas
what that critical level is, and what look we like.

--Peter Klein
Seattle, WA

At 06:14 AM 8/1/04 -0700, "B. D. Colen" <> wrote:

>Thanks, Richard - I think. But how about a reality check here...Tri-X 
>shot at 800 "look(s) like crap as large prints" unless viewed from an 
>appropriate viewing distance - just as digital looks like crap unless 
>viewed at proper viewing distance. I have seen images shot with a 5 mgp

>sensor blown up to 30x40, and if viewed standing back - as they are 
>designed to be viewed - they are magnificent. Step right up to them 
>and, just as prints from film would look like buckets of golf balls, so

>to the prints from digital....

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In reply to: Message from pklein at (Peter Klein) ([Leica] Born At Risk...)