Preferred viewing distance?

Started 3 months ago | Polls thread
MCLV Senior Member • Posts: 1,144
Re: I dissagre...

Tom Axford wrote:

Aaron801 wrote:

Victor Engel wrote:

That size seems very small for a gallery exhibit. How close I'd view would depend on the subject and the crowd of people viewing the exhibit. I like to use my peripheral vision and fill my view as much as possible. On the other hand, I wouldn't stand in front of someone else also trying to view the exhibit. Something the size described would ideally be viewed at my minimum focus distance, which, unfortunately, is getting farther as I age.
If the images are photographs, I'd try to achieve about the same angle of view as the camera used to take the photo had, so that I'd get the same perspective as the camera had. So that depends more on the lens used to take the photo than the size of the print. For an extreme example, I'd view a fish-eye photo from as close as possible. A moon or star-scape could be viewed from a more distant vantage point.

I've seen lots of artwork, photos and otherwise that have been that size or even a fair bit smaller, both of more contemporary and historical stuff. I believe for example that Vermeer's work was mostly very small. There were lots of photographers who shot on large format gear, who then contact printed their negatives to get the most extreme fine detail out of it, which meant that they were presenting the work at a very small size, particularly if it was from 4x5 negatives rather than 8x10 ones. This kind of work is meant to be viewed close, but as long as you do so, you can get plenty out of it. I think that very often a more intimate size actually works better. The way something is presented really depends on the effect that the artist who made it is trying to convey... so with print sizes, I wouldn't say that "bigger is better" is not always true and in fact often isn't.

I agree. I have noticed in recent years that displays of photography vary in size quite a lot. Since printing has got cheaper and easier, some photographers like to print larger and larger, while others stick to more modest sizes. I've seen prints that fill a whole wall and have to be viewed from relatively close (less than the length of the diagonal) because there isn't room for the viewer to step back.

In some situations huge prints are appropriate, but generally I prefer smaller prints.

When I thought about this a bit more, I realized that I prefer to view whole prints from a distance where pixel level artifacts are not noticeable. This means that I move farther away when the print is of worse quality and closer (to roughly its diagonal or a tiny bit more) if the print is good.

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MOD Smaug01
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