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Small-print display (06/19/2005)
By Tom Hirsch

If you're like me, when you go on vacation or attend a family affair, a sporting event or any activity calling for picture-taking, you take lots of shots. I used to waste a bunch of expensive film at these events, knowing that most of the pictures would probably end up in a drawer, in photo albums, displayed in groups of similar photos, or simply thrown away

Now my camera of choice for must events is a compact digital. Besides being small, light and very versatile, it takes great pictures in the lowest quality setting when I'm taking snapshots that will be enlarged to no greater than 3-1/2 by 5 inches. If I know, or even think, that a picture I'm taking will be displayed as an 8x10, I can set the camera at the highest quality setting and know that I'll be able to enlarge the photo to that size.

But most of the pictures will be put in albums and/or displayed, at least for a while. With the digital camera, I can easily cull out the bad shots on the spot, or wait until I get them downloaded on the computer and look them all over for comparison purposes, then save only the best shots.

As I indicated, most of the pictures that I save on the computer are printed 3-1/2 x 5. That's a good size for display purposes because most people will move up fairly close to look them over. That size also provides enough sharpness that even if the photos are viewed from a distance, faces and most other detail are still quite clear.

For display purposes, it's easy and inexpensive to set up an attractive print display area in a kitchen, den or rec room. Just paint a section of wall space. White is usually best if the wall is colored. If the wall is white, any subdued color might be suitable. Varnish and/or frame in the finished board if you so desire.

The size of the board will depend on the available space, but as a guideline, a 2'x 3' board will hold more than forty 3-1/2 x 5 prints mounted edge-to-edge.

Prints can be mounted in several ways. An easy method of mounting prints is to use a dab of rubber cement on the back corner of each print, and place the print on the wall when the adhesive is still wet. A small amount of double-faced tape on the back corners of a print also works well. Look for removable or semi-permanent tape in an office supply store.

After a period of time, you'll have another set of pictures to exhibit. Carefully take down the old pictures, remove any rubber cement or tape, and place the prints in an album for future reference.

A similar photo display board can be made with cork sheeting or tiles. To mount pictures on cork, use pins with brightly-colored heads. These pins are convenient, and they will also add color to the display.

For variety, you might cover the cork material with fabric. You could use a figured or plain fabric, but it shouldn't compete with the photos.

There is no rule that says pictures must be rectangular. You could cut prints to match a theme or idea. For example, a photo that shows brilliantly-colored trees in the fall might be cut in the shape of a leaf. Before cutting the picture, cut the desired size and shape from a piece of paper. Lay it over the print to get the effect.

Precaution No. 1: Don't overdo it. A display is more appealing if it's simple. A few prints cut into various shapes and scattered throughout an arrangement will make an eye-catching display. If all the pictures are cut up, the board will look gimmicky.

Precaution No. 2: Carefully select the pictures to display. All should relate to a common theme, and you'll want all of them to be positive examples of your photographic ability. It's better to display a few good shots than many almost-good ones. 


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