The Big Picture: Making a Fine Art Photography Print from Scratch

Nick Carver is no stranger to going big. Not only does she shoot big negatives on big cameras, but he's immensely passionate about printing and framing and making sure work both fills and compliments a space. In this video he goes through the process of scanning a panoramic 6x17 Portra 160 film negative, sizing up a space on the wall for the final 6-foot print, and even building a custom frame for it.

From the get-go, you know Carver has a good head on his shoulders. I immensely respect his choice of a more subtle and neutral landscape shot to hang on his wall. In a world dominated by in-your-face HDR 'scapes, it's certainly refreshing. I also admire his total DIY work ethic. I totally expected to see a custom 120 film holder with anti-Newton glass from betterscanning.com, but nope. He has a little home-spun contraption with a glass plate with risers to make sure the film is on the scanner's focal plane. Ultimately he ends up with a nice 340 megapixel digital scan which, after inverting, adding curves, and removing dust spots, he then sent to a lab to get chemically printed on Fuji Crystal Archive Pearl paper with a lustre coating.

Possibly the most impressive aspect of the project is the custom from-scratch frame. I certainly don't know of any 2-foot by 6-foot float frames ready to buy on the market. Besides, who would want to buy one, especially considering it cost around $350 in materials alone to make from scratch.

In the end we're left with some pretty fantastic advice about understanding the place photography should have within the decor of a room. It's about complimenting, not overpowering. His advice couldn't be more truthful, but then we're left with the real home run:

Now I mean it when I say it, that this is what photography's really about. It's about getting prints made, getting 'em framed, hanging them on a wall. That's where you're going to get your real satisfaction in photography. Taking a picture and then just uploading the file to Instagram, hoping people are going to like it before they flip on to the next picture in under half a second; that kind of satisfaction — that's nothing compared to the satisfaction you get from having a print made and hanging on the wall.

 Nick Carter is a fine art and landscape photographer from Tustin, California. Not only is he an incredible photographer that should be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but he's a fine educator and you can get information on his classes on his website.

And I know some of you are probably interested in his Shen Hao TFC 617-A medium-but-sorta-large format camera. Here's a bonus video where he talks about that:

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8 Comments

Bert McLendon's picture

Very nice! Looks great!

I saw the print framing video elsewhere. But the second video of the gear that he uses is fascinating! One of the cameras on my bucket list to buy is a view camera.

Felix Hernandez's picture

Nice!!!!!... looks amazing. I totally agree with your statement!

Fantastic article and video!

May I point out the end of the video and his philosophy behind creating a cohesive ambience, harmonious environment and recognizing that the photos on the walls are within an inherent "collaboration" of many creative disciplines and art.

Great advice, "precision handwerk", and art all around in this short must see video IMHO.

Amazing to see the process he puts behind the overall image. One discrepancy that I have with the article is this paragraph "Possibly the most impressive aspect of the project is the custom from-scratch frame. I certainly don't know of any 2-foot by 6-foot float frames ready to buy on the market. Besides, who would want to buy one, especially considering it cost around $350 in materials alone to make from scratch."

The float frame was made by American Frame; there is a part of the video when you can even see the frame maker's label. They do exceptional work making frames of any size you have, literally any size. He did place his own risers on the back of the image to give it a 1.5in depth but he didn't make that frame.

Very cool to see videos like this and would be great to see more of them!

Sean Molin's picture

Thanks for that clarification. I guess I was certainly thrown off by the custom risers.

For a fair amount fewer dollars you can get a good 5x7 view camera and mask off for 6x17 with sheet film. You can even get a 6x17 bacl for the 5x7. Allows for much more bellows than 310mm so you can use longer lenses as well.
What you are using works for you and you enjoy it - that is what counts.

Sean Molin's picture

Personally, I'd much rather deal with 120 rolls. That's a HUGE difference. I'm pretty awful with sheets. ha.

Not only is 120 immensely cheaper and easier to handle, but you get 4 shots per roll, so developing is extremely economical. I think a dedicated camera like this, even @ $2000, would probably pay for itself in my use. I'd also take more photos with it.