[pure-silver] Re: matting square prints

  • From: DarkroomMagic <info@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: PureSilverNew <pure-silver@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2005 00:05:13 +0100

This is a matter of taste.
However, IMHO, a square print looks best mounted and matted on a vertical
board. As the print placement, the ?optical center¹ should be considered and
the print adjusted from there. It is easier to explain the optical center
location with the aid of some illustrations, but FWIW here is an attempt to
do so in some unpolished words, which are part of an article I¹m currently
working on:

Print Orientation and Placement

Since it is one of the most important functions of the mount to visually
isolate the print, optimum print orientation and placement consists of
properly apportioning the space around the print. Most photographers, unless
specializing in landscapes, produce the majority of their images in a
vertical print composition. Vertical prints demand a vertical mount-board
orientation, and generally, the reverse is true for horizontal prints.
Nevertheless, horizontal prints can also be successfully mounted on vertical
mount-boards, especially when exhibited within a panel, dominated by
vertical prints on vertical mounts. Square prints call for a vertical
mount-board orientation more often than not.

Unless you are aiming for a very special effect, nobody will probably argue
with the understanding that the print should be centered on the horizontal
axis of the mount. However, attractive print placement on the vertical axis
requires a closer look into optimum print isolation and subjective

It is commonly agreed, and obvious even to the most untrained observer, that
a print, centered on the vertical axis, appears to be placed too low on the
mount. This print placement creates the unfortunate optical illusion that
the print is not equally spaced at top and bottom. In other words, the print
seems to sag below the vertical center. To remedy this unsightly situation,
alternative print-placement techniques must be considered.

One accepted technique involves placing the print near the ?optical center¹
of the mount. This makes for an attractive print placement in the majority
of situations. To find this optical center, align the upper left-hand corner
of print and mount-board in point ?A¹. Now, bisect the remaining spaces to
the bottom and right of the print, creating lines ?a¹ and ?b¹, respectively.
Then, connect point ?B¹ and ?0¹, creating line ?c¹, which intersects line
?b¹ in point ?1¹. Finally, align the lower right-hand corner of the print
(point ?C¹) with point ?1¹ on the mount-board. The print is now at the
optical center of the mount.

Nevertheless, this technique is only considered to be a good starting point,
and not an automated substitute for accomplished design or personal
preferences. If placing the print at the optical center results in an
unattractive, narrow border on top or bottom of the print, additional
vertical adjustments have to be made. While making these adjustments, the
bottom of the print must never be below line ?d¹, to clearly avoid the print
from being optically placed too low on the mount. Line ?d¹ resembles your
individual, minimum, vertical print offset. Its location depends on your
personal preference and style, but I suggest line ?d¹ to be at least 10%
above line ?a¹.

Let us summarize the method of finding an optically pleasing print
placement. Locate the optical center, and place the print at that location.
If this results in the print being too high or too low on the mount, slide
it up or down until you reach a more attractive distribution of space, while
always maintaining a minimum, vertical print offset. In most cases, optimum
print placement is achieved when the print is horizontally centered and its
bottom edge is vertically located between points ?1¹ and ?2¹.


Ralph W. Lambrecht

On 2/21/05 8:02 PM, "Shannon Stoney" <sstoney@xxxxxxx> wrote:

> I am getting ready to mat some medium format prints. I printed them
> at 8"x8".  I am trying to figure out whether it is "normal" to mat
> them in a rectangular or square mat.  Would it make more sense for
> example to make the mat  16x16?  or 16x20?
> --shannon
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