Post Printing : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

Never see much information about how to display prints once they leave the darkroom. What type of light (natural vs halogen vs ?). I know there are ideas out there, wondering what this group thinks. I'm building a new house and plan to put up some track lights for display of B&W work and would like some input.

Thanks for any information.

-- Mike Castles (, November 25, 2001


Ansel discusses this pretty thoroughly in THE PRINT. You should read what he has to say. Generally, he prefers a mixture of daylight and tungsten, not too bright, not too dim. He says: "Although personal preference is a factor, I have found illumination levels of 80 to 100 foot-candles at the print position to be agreeable if the walls and general environment are of a middle value."

-- Ed Buffaloe (, November 25, 2001.

Daylight is very nice, but it has a large UV component. Filtered through window glass it should be safe. I like the glow of prints illuminated by the sun, especially when the rest of the room is darker. It makes the prints really sing. Damage from the light should be minimal since the window glass removes the majority of the UV. Tungsten is also good and the first choice of many. Since tungsten light is warmer than daylight, toned prints look browner than under daylight. I personally prefer this. For my taste, the lighting should be brighter than the ambient room light to give the print luminosity and bring out shadow detail. Track lighting is great for its flexibility of positioning; halogen lights are a bit cooler and make the prints stand out from the warmer room light. Avoid flourescent lighting. Not only does it contain a lot of damaging UV, but, since it is not a continuous spectrum source, it can give prints an unpleasant color. Hope this helps a bit. ;^D)

-- Doremus Scudder (, November 26, 2001.

The color of your walls can make a big difference too, a deep earthy color can really make a print glow (selenium toned ones anyway). 20% reflectance is said to be ideal.

-- mark lindsey (, November 27, 2001.

I'm considering this issue at this time as well. I would weigh in for a brightish halogen track lighting which is not used for general area illumination at all. I.e. that is on a timer or dimmer so that you can have bright lights (ca. 500 lux) which neither heat up the framing materials nor fade the prints/matting because you tend to leave them on all the time. (Saves energy too). Make the prints dazzling when and only when you are showing them.

-- Eric Pederson (, November 30, 2001.

Oops, I meant "500+ lux", not "ca.500 lux". Chapter 17 of Henry Wilhelm "The permanence and care of color photographs" (Preservation Publishing 1993) seems an excellent survey of these issues. The book is about b/w photographs as well as color despite the title.

-- Eric Pederson (, November 30, 2001.

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