Contact Prints from Large Format Film Negatives
Limited Numbered Editions
We are now offering darkroom silver gelatin contact prints from film negatives in 4x5", 5x7" and 8x10"!!!
What is a "Contact Print"?
A Contact Print is a print made by overlaying a negative of the same size as the final image on a piece of paper (or otherwise) for the creation of a photographic print. Contact prints were the only way to share photographs until enlarging became common. Some of the most well-known photographs by master photographers including Weston and Strand were contact prints.
Contact Prints can be made mainly with either traditional photographic film negatives matching the print size, or with digital negatives created on a computer and printed on transparency film. Most “alternative process” prints on this site (such as cyanotypes, platinum prints, gum prints, etc.) and some of the Silver Gelatin darkroom prints are made using digital negatives.
What are these Contact Prints?
These contact prints now being offered are “Camera Film to Darkroom Photographic Silver Gelatin Paper” prints. In other words, traditional photographic film is placed into a camera and images are taken with the camera. The film is then developed and that piece of film is placed over light senstive paper in the darkroom and exposed to light, then developed. This print doesn’t touch a computer, scanner or printer. It’s the old way of doing things.
Additionally, being contact prints, the prints are the size of the negative so the print resolution is 1:1 negative to print. They are not enlarged in a darkroom with a photo enlarger/projector. Essentially, what is on the negative ends up in the prints. Adjustments are pretty much limited to exposure of the print, contrast of the print, manual burning/dodging, and spotting for dust. Each negative requires test strips/prints for optimal exposure and contrast before the final, acceptable prints are made.
To do it this way, obviously you need a negative the size of the print. While there are ways optically to make a second larger negative from a smaller negative, most often the size of the negative is controlled by the size of the camera. We are offering contact prints from 4×5″, 5×7″ and 8×10″ cameras, and the film/negative size corresponds to the those sizes. We are not cropping these prints, so the composition has to be right “in camera”. This “in camera” cropping is evident by the edge of the negative being visible in each contact print (the black edge), surrounded by white matting. There are larger cameras than these, up to and beyond 20×24″ cameras, but they are HUGE, the film is hard to find and outrageously expensive, and an 8×10″ camera is PLENTY to haul around. These camera have little in common with your iPhones!!!
These prints are made one at a time after testing the negative to print relationship, and are most often offered in limited numbers of 5 in dated editions. For example, edition #1 may be February 2020. There may or may not be additional editions sometime in the future, but each will be dated and signed as such: edition number, date, photographer, title.