For me, planning a trip and taking a photograph is just a part of what I enjoy about photography. Theres plenty more to do back at home when the weathers not great or there simply isn't time to make a journey to a landscape I want to shoot. Obviously there is the editing of the RAW files (which I discussed in part 1), and then sharing it online on various social media platforms for feedback and response. But what I really enjoy is following this process to the end, where the image gets to go on a wall as a piece of art.
I have always enjoyed looking at a physical photograph more than one on a screen. I give it much more attention if its printed, whereas I am guilty of just 'flicking past' or 'scrolling through' images on my phone. Give me those same images in a book or portfolio and it would take me ten times as long to view them I can guarantee.
12 months ago, following weeks of research and indecision I eventually invested in an Epson Stylus Pro R3880. A high quality inkjet printer, and after the initial setting up teething issues, learning about monitor calibration and understanding the difference between reflected and projected light (could be a blog in itself, but a dull one) I was eventually getting results I considered to be as good as, or better than the prints I had been getting from the pro-labs up to then.
Choosing hardware is just the first major decision to make, next is what paper. There are many manufacturers of quality photographic paper, each producing a wide range of finishes and quality. I have settled on papers made by Permajet, Hahnemuhle and Fotospeed, although there are many more available that I am sure are as good. The choice of paper can depend on the image. I like a slightly textured finish on a lustre paper, although Gloss, Matt, Aluminium, Canvas and many more are all available.
So once the image is resized to suit the chosen paper size, the print settings are updated to the profile required for selected paper and printer, its time to press 'print' and watch ....
For this image I used Permajet Photo Art Pearl 280gsm (Size A2) which I trimmed down to suit the panoramic aspect. Panoramic paper is available, as is paper on a roll.
I loved the finished print so much I knew instantly that it had to be framed, but first mounted. Giving the image a nice border really helps to draw the viewers eye to the photograph. Border size is personal choice. Some like a thin border just like a second frame, others like a huge border, bigger than the print to give a contemporary look. My choice is somewhere in between. After some careful consideration I settled on a 60mm border and proceeded to make a mount (Using Daler Antique White (White Core) Mountboard).
After the mount board has been carefully cut to reveal the aperture through which the photograph will be seen (making sure theres a slight overlap of 2-4mm. Well you don't want the photograph to be smaller than the hole in the mountboard do you?) an identically sized backboard is needed. This is a relatively cheap thick cardboard. once cut, the mount and backboard are joined using PH Neutral tape to form a hinge along the top. So that it opens like a book.
The hinge allows you to carefully position the image so that no edges are seen and the print is level in the frame. When you're happy with the photo paper position and have marked the corners, you can attach the print. The print isn't fixed down, it hangs. I make 3 'tab hinges' along the top of the photo paper which i then fix to the backboard. This allows for any movement during the life of the frame. Mounting in this way means that the image is free to float and will not crease or wrinkle as it might if it was simply glued down.
Its now all starting to come together. Now you need a hardboard backing, and some glass. 2mm thick Hardboard is easy to cut to size with a good quality craft knife, so thats easy. Glass takes a little more care and practice. I use 2mm thick non-reflective glass for my frames. A lot use 2mm float glass which is cheaper and lot easier to cut, but I hate reflections stopping me see pictures, so I do what I can to remove these. Cutting glass by hand is still what I consider to be the most difficult part of frame making, and also the most dangerous. Thick gloves and a lot of care must be taken and mistakes are costly.
Now we need a frame...
The materials supplier that I use stock a mind-blowing amount of wooded and metal mouldings. This is where you can get creative and take total control of the final item you are looking to produce. As this isn't for a customer, I decided to use a light oak moulding that matches my own furniture. The moulding comes in lengths of 2.4-2.6mtrs length so needs to be cut to size. I use a quality mitre saw, and then precision cut the corners using a guillotine type machine that helps to make perfect corner joints. The blade on this machine would easily chop through bone, so It gets a lot of respect from me when using it. At the end of this process you should have 2 long pieces and 2 short pieces (unless your frame is square) with perfectly cut corners, ready for joining.
The mitred corners are first glued and then joined using stainless steel V Nails all pulled together in a corner clamp and Studio Joiner. Larger operations use a mechanical under-pinner which is much quicker, but a costly investment. Taking your time at this point can make all the difference. Frames are judged on their corners so you need to make sure theres no gaps. Filler is an option, but it can sometimes emphasise the error and look awful. I make my frames in two parts. I join a long and short piece to make an L-Shape and then repeat. When I have 2 L-Shapes I join them together. I find this much easier than trying to join in a clockwise manner as any slight variations don't get as exaggerated. Once you're happy, any excess glue has been cleaned from the frame, you can start to assemble the finished item.
One of the most important stages of assembly is cleaning the glass. This needs to be spotless and free of smudges and fingerprints. I usually end up cleaning both sides twice before I am happy its clean. This might be boring but its worth it as taking the whole thing apart after assembly just to remove a hair is far more annoying. The glass, mountboard, backboard and hardboard are then all dropped into the rebate on the frame moulding. If you're happy its a good fit (It should be if the measurements were right) you can insert tabs all around which will ensure nothing falls apart and doesn't move. I cover the Tabs with a conservation tape, which gives the back of the frame a professional finish. I also add foam bumpers to the bottom corners of the frame (so as not to damage any walls and allow air to circulate around the image), fit the hanging string and of course my website details (well you never know where it will end up). Once all this is done, its time to take a step back and see what all our hard work has produced...
What do you think?
Measuring 750x350mm and ready to grace a wall. The processes above are taken whenever I make a frame. I generally make frames to suit A4, A3 and A2 prints which I make at home. I can make larger items ( I now use Loxley Colour for anything larger than A2 and the service and quality are both excellent) up to 38" wide. Mouldings are available in almost every wood finish you could imagine, so you can really let your creative juices run wild.
Hopefully you can see passed the poor quality images (all taken on the iPhone as I was making the frame) and that this has been an interesting insight into what goes into making a picture for a wall. Yeah its a lot of work, but its rewarding to. If anyone has any questions please feel free to drop me an email and I will try to help out. Thanks again for taking the time to read this blog.