Friday, January 4, 2008

Matting Dilemma Solved (maybe)

I do everything with my photography from capture all the way to hanging the image on the wall. I went thru a number of iterations with matting and framing and I’ve arrived at method that suits me. However, there was one nagging area, I’m sure there are more than just one but this one hit me the other day, for which I think I have found a solution. The solution can be somewhat limiting but I think it will work for me.

I have a couple of Photoshop actions that I use to prepare my image for printing. One of the things the actions do is to resize the image to fit the intended mat. I know the maximum dimension of the image and set one of the dimensions to that maximum and let the other dimension automatically adjust. The image is printed and I’m ready to mat.

I mat images with a border around the image, none of the image is covered by the mat. I also sign the photograph, under the image in the lower right, and the mat is cut larger at the bottom to account for the signature. So matting is rather precise and specific to each image. The problem lies in the ‘specific to each image’ statement. I’ve just been unsuccessful reusing my mats and I’m just getting way to many matted images.

So I’m reading Alain Briot’s book ‘Mastering Landscape Photography: The Luminous Landscape Essays’ and he is talking about developing portfolios and storing the images in clam shell boxes. The clam shell box provides great protection and easy accessibility for the images. I’m also working on my ‘Life Around the Kelley Farm, 1861’ show and I know that I will not want all of these images sitting matted, taking up space, once the show is complete. But I would like to preserve the images for future reference.

OK, now to my new direction. I decided that for each size mat that I use, 11x14, 16x20, 18x24 and 20x30, I will determine a ‘standard’ image size. This ‘standard’ image size would be very close to a 2:3 aspect ratio but each would take into account the aspect ration of the mat itself plus the thickness of the mat border. So for instance, for a 16x20 matted landscape image the standard image size would be 9.5” x 14.25”. This would result in a mat border of approximately 2 ½”. If I was happy with the crop, using this image size, then I could put the image in a ‘standard’ landscape 16x20 mat. As long as I printed landscape images 9.5” x 14.25” I could reuse the mat.

Of course some images deserve very different crops and I’m free to crop those as I see fit. But I am preferential to the 2:3 aspect ratio and shaving a little of the image off the sides is perfectly acceptable.

I have been employing this new method as I print the ‘Life Around the Kelley Farm, 1861’ images. I think I have 3 images, of the 26, that did not lend themselves to the ‘standard’ crop. As I begin the process of matting the 26 images I’ll have just 5 size openings to cut, the 3 unique openings then a portrait and a landscape opening.

As with most things I’ll give this a whirl and see how it plays out. But from now on I’m going to stick with my ‘standard’ mat concept. Hopefully this won’t be a failed experiment and I waste even more mat board.


1 comment:

  1. Life gets a lot easier when you have standard size prints. Most of my 16X20 matts have 10X15 images. The borders are not the same size but it still looks good.