Half Dome Looks Great – Hanging On the Wall!

Half Dome from Curry Village at Yosemite by Scott Loftesness
Earlier this afternoon, a bit in celebration for wrapping up the initial phase of a major piece of work, I hung this black and white image of Half Dome from Curry Village in Yosemite on my office wall. Here’s the link to the original image on Flickr.

This was an experiment – how can I begin more productively outputting some of the images I have so that I can see them in my daily life? Sounds simple, but it’s not – as I’m sure any photographer can tell you.

In my experience, one of the challenges in photography is getting things “hung” – into frames and up on the wall. Frames are hard, mats are hard, glass is hard. But, prints are easy. So, it’s easy to print – but then what? How do get it up on the wall? And, where does it go? At home, I have perhaps four of my thousands of photos hung in prints on various walls – but they’re all basically failed experiments in output.

So, yesterday I began by printing four recent images at Costco – taking advantage of their great pricing ($5.99) on beautiful 16×20 prints. In my experience, Costco does a wonderful job, they take no more than a couple of hours, and pickup is easy at one of our local Costco’s (Costco photo pickup has its own checkout – no waiting in long checkout lines). Then what?

One of those prints in particular – the Half Dome from Curry Village – was truly exceptional and really captured by eye. Something about the sheer level of detail in the print, those beautiful repetitive trees in the center of the photo, the whole winter ambiance and balance. So, I picked that one for my experiment.

What I wanted was something along the lines of what Pete Souza does in the West Wing of the White House – where he hangs lots of his best photographs called “jumbos” where everyone (in the White House anyway!) can see them. He changes them regularly – and when he does, the staff notices and explores the new ones. This is sheer delight for a photographer – showing your best stuff where folks can appreciate it – and you can see it too! (For a great documentary on Souza, see the PBS special The President’s Photographer: 50 Years in the Oval Office. It’s available on NetFlix for instant streaming. Souza’s also a Canon 5D Mark II shooter – for me, regularly watching the White House account on Flickr has provided a great education into Souza’s choice of lenses, settings, etc. In particular, Souza’s a real fan of the Canon 35mm f/1.4L and the Canon 135mm f/2.0L lenses. Some really great stuff for Canon shooters!)

One of my colleagues suggested that Ikea had some nice frames at great prices. So, I headed to the East Palo Alto Ikea and found a very nice frame with mat and glass for about $25.

You see the result above as its hanging on my office wall – $6 for a gorgeous black and white print from Costco and $25 for a great frame from Ikea – total $31 – and reusable. When I get bored with Half Dome (!), I can pull down the frame, open up the back and in goes another 16×20. Maybe this works? Does anyone know more about the process Pete Souza and the White House photo team use to produce those jumbos?

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