Working Larger

I had just finished loading my newly minted digital work to a brand-new site, all ready for sales. The first query came quickly: “That one, but can you make it 4’x6′?” Feet? Whaaaat? No, I had no idea how to do that. I’ve been chasing larger images ever since.

Let’s review some math. (Geek alert!) High quality printing needs 300 dots of ink for every inch. So 4 feet of print needs 4×12 inches, and 300 dots for each of those inches is… 14,400 dots!? Never mind the other side of the print: 6 feet needs 21,600 dots. That is one big file and a lot of pixels, way more than my camera could capture.

My trusty point-and-shoot: 1760×1168 pixels

I’ve been able to get my hands on digital cameras since 1997. One of my first travel cameras, a Kodak point-and-shoot, took images that were 1760×1168 pixels, a 2MB file. The thrill of having directly digital images made up for the limitation of only being able to produce a 4″x6″ image. That’s inches, not the 4×6 FEET I was looking for. These days, even an older phone can capture more than that, good for bigger prints. But digital cameras still haven’t bridged the gap to that giant print size, at least not at the level of camera I’m buying.

Nikon D70 image: 3008×2000 pixels

I moved on from the small point-and-shoot to a Nikon D70 with images of 2000×3008 pixels, then a Nikon D7000, which could give me a 4928×3264 image, a 16MB file. Now, I’ve got a Nikon Z7, with giant 24MB images of 8256×5504 pixels. I’m getting in range of 18″x24″ prints, but I’m still a long way off those initial 4’x6′ requests. What else can I do?

Let’s look at the other options I use to create layers. When I create textures on my small printing press, I can fit an image that is 8″x10″ or at most 9″x12″. When I scan those prints into my computer at maximum settings (1200 dots per inch), those scanned prints start to get pretty big, in the 10,000×14,000 pixel range. Starting with those as my base layer helps me make bigger imagery, like this one.

the stones were listening: large digital collage by Liz Ruest

Are we there yet? Oooh, so close! Over 20 years later, I can print something 4 feet wide, 6 feet in a pinch. Need something really big on your wall? With my latest work, I’m finally getting there!

Chime in!