Remember that really cool feeling of camping out in the dark room, focusing and projecting your image onto photo sensitive paper? Watching your creation materialize before your eyes in the developer as you lightly rocked the chemicals back and forth, only to see your final image come to life for the first time? I do. It’s what sparked my love affair with photography, and if you never got to experience that, I think you should try to find a local community college or community space that still has enlargers, and give it a try. Now, fast forward… Do you remember me telling you about Digital Silver Imaging and their unique, digital silver gelatin printing process? To quickly summarize, DSI (find them here) has a process that takes your digital files, and exposes them like a negative, onto photo sensitive paper, and develops them in photo chemistry producing a beautiful, museum quality, archival print. The beauty and depth of a digital file, with the organic analog feeling of a silver gelatin print, is a very cool, very harmonious and nostalgic thing. Well, I’ve been back in contact with those fine folks, and after some delightful conversation surrounding the next step in actual mounting of said beautiful prints, this is what came back to me…
Now, lest we feel our only option is the more traditional black and white, DSI has a full professional color print lab as well. I received my first color prints from DSI in this batch, and they blow my home “pro” inkjet printer away. While their color prints are spectacular, the really cool and unique stuff comes into play with their black and white processing. To see more about their process, have a look at this:
Having access to a wonderful pro print shop that does gallery display quality in both color and black and white is a very handy thing. So, we’ve chosen how and what to print, now, how about mounting and displaying them? Its easy to see the pricing from your local Walgreens or Costco and balk at a higher end product, and while I totally support the more affordable print options, if you have a special print that you want to hold onto, and pass along to future generations, then it pays to find a shop that utilizes archival inks and dyes (or silver gelatin!), proper print media and the reputation for professional output.
Personally, I have a lot of shots hanging around our home of the kids that I’ve printed and mounted myself. Hell, I even have a matte cutter that I’ve put to some decent use. That said, prints from as little as 5 or 6 years ago have started to shift, color wise, and as shown in the previous DSI post, weren’t quite up to snuff to begin with. Getting to see these mounted prints come back to me, is making me think I should go back through and pick a few more out to properly print and mount.
All the prints I received are 8×10″, which aren’t huge by any stretch, but they’re big enough for a good look, and fit nicely into the mosaic photo wall we’ve started without taking up too much real estate. All 4 prints were done on different media, and mounted differently to give me a look at some of the options. I will say, I’m happier with some over others, and I’ll walk you through which I find to be the best in my opinion below…
Print 1 – Wings of Glass
This image was printed on Fuji Metallic SM, and mounted on Dibond with a 3/4″ Aluminum hanger producing a floating mount.
The finish is a beautiful, metallic gloss that helps make the color absolutely pop, in an almost 3D way. The floating mount hanger is certainly solid, and while I like the image physically popping off the wall, for a print this small, I’d like to see a slightly shallower float mount. It would look really good with an image in the 12″ x 18″ or larger range, I’d say. This is my favorite finish of all the prints I received, but as luck would have it, was also the most expensive option.
8×10 overprint for mounting, Fuji Metallic SM print – $25
Dibond 8×10 – $50
8×10, 3/4″ Aluminum Hanger – $45
I would certainly suggest this for vibrant, color images that will benefit from having color and saturation further amplified into a very rich, deep print. A great way to showcase a statement piece, be that a wedding or family image, or fine art piece.
Print 2 – Two peas in a pod
Showcased on Hahnemühle Photo Silk Baryta SM, and mounted on a standout black 8×10 Mighty Core. The finish also provides wonderful color and depth, and the mount is very lightweight, but feels much more crush resistant than the standard foam core.
Total depth is 3/4″ off the wall, and is hung by way of one of the predrilled holes on the back. Pantso and LBWHF sat still enough to help me get my lights set for this shoot, which wasn’t intended for them. I have so few shots of the boys where both of them, simultaneously have avoided looking like little insane people, so this setup shot was a wonderful result of pure luck, and I love having it immortalized.
8×10 Hahnemühle Photo Silk Baryta SM print – $25.00
Standout Black 8×10 – 16.00
This will be my go to as a more budget friendly option, and I foresee doing more family shots, mounted this way. I am also thinking of doing a large triptych panorama where the weight (or lack thereof) could be a huge boon to something like that. The Mighty Core is strong, but remarkably light. Great if wanting to hang larger prints in more fragile walls (think lath and plaster) as I’d imagine you could very easily support a 24″ x 36″ with a single thin hanging nail, with ease.
Print 3 – Where we meet the sky
Beautifully printed on the Silver Gelatin Fiber paper, and mounted on Gatorfoam with a more simplified hanger plate complimented by two small foam stoppers to keep the float mount even, this is a good combination for a more pricy print, with a more affordable float mount option.
I went on and on about the beauty of the silver gelatin prints in my original print review, and seeing one mounted, provides further stoke. It’s just such a beautiful way to view your black and white images. This process alone has proven to me the worth of actually printing my pictures. Getting these things off the screen and seeing them hang on your wall is just so cool.
Silver Gelatin Fiber 8×10 – $36.00
Gatorfoam 3/16″ 8×10 – $16.00
Hanging Plate (S) up to 4lbs – $15.00
While I prefer the rigidity and more finished presentation along the edges of the Mighty Core, this is the more budget friendly floating mount option, where the Mighty Core is flush, yet stands off the wall. This hanger/float mount is also much shallower than the 3/4″ hangers used above on the Dibond, and below on the Aluminum, which I feel is a much better ratio for smaller prints like this as it keeps the print floating closer to the wall, yet still provides enough separation for that cool, float mount look.
Gator board, or in this case, Gatorfoam, is less crush resistant, so corners are more easily squished, and I wouldn’t suggest printing too large with something like this, for fear of potential creasing, and just lack of support over a much larger surface area (where I again would look at the Mighty Core, myself). But, that said, if you like the float mount look (which is very cool), this is an easier way to get in the door.
Print 4 – Twist and Swirl (an exercise in time travel)
An 8×10 print on Hahnemühle FA Baryta Satin SM paper, producing a semi gloss finish juxtaposed on top of a 10×12 080 aluminum SM plate. This combination provides a modern, natural, industrial framing of the image printed on a paper which has great tonal depth and beautiful color.
This could have been an image of me at his age, which is why I enjoy having captured it so much. I like the complimentary framing of the aluminum further highlighting the vibrance, and drawing the eye in toward the center of the image. Similar, yet less expensive than the dibond, the aluminum provides a rigidity, and option to include a bordered frame by getting a larger piece cut.
8×10 Hahnemühle FA Baryta Satin SM print – $25.00
10×12 080 Aluminum SM plate – $31.00
10×12 3/4″ Aluminum Hanger – $45.00
I think the aluminum would greatly compliment the right black and white, silver gelatin print beautifully as well. The float mount is the same as was used for the Dibond mounted image, and positions the image in a uniform float, off of the wall.
All are beautiful, and better quality than any other prints I’ve done or had done locally, myself. My two favorites (and this was before actually looking at each of the total prices) happen to be the most and least expensive options presented here. The Dibond is truly classy, and I think would be my go to for special prints. The Mighty Core is just cool. It is remarkably rigid for its weight, and is far and away the most affordable option that I had done. This will be my default for my family images, and as mentioned (hopefully) for a large panorama project I’d like to print and hang, large.
There are cheaper methods of printing out there, and I would highly suggest utilizing them if for no other reason than to enjoy your beautiful images in physical, print form. For those special prints, the gifts, or the gallery shows, the mantra of ‘you get what you pay for’ should be ringing in your head when contemplating your printing needs with Digital Silver Imaging, though. Investing in art will pay off down the road, and really, when considering what we’d pay for a painting (even a print) at comparable sizes, this is chump change, well, almost.
Have a look at what they offer on the DSI website here, and while the idea of coming up with the right medium and mount might be a little overwhelming, Andrea and the folks there are amazingly helpful. You can contact them HERE. Tell them I say hi… and that I love my prints.