The Proof

Since I was asked, here is a sample of one of the proof sheets I've been making using XnView. The original is 3075×2175 pixels, for printing at 300dpi. This is enough to see detail on the page. For a 100% detail showing the level of detail that's visible, just click-through on the image at right.

This week marks the last one of the SFMOMA show, Diane Arbus Revelations. We've been there twice now. I'm tempted to return.

Some of the surprising things in the exhibit (which may be in the expensive companion book) are a few of Arbus's proof sheets. Some are about what you might expect: a suite of similar shots from which just one was selected. But for most of the others, what's astonishing is their variety — proofs where each photo is markedly different, of a completely different person, sometimes in another location. The photos that were printed weren't one from a set — they were just the one photo.

I know that Arbus was constantly dismissive of her ability to know what was in the photo until she saw it. But the proof sheets tell a different story. In, nail it, and go on to the next thing. Pretty impressive. Scary, even.

January 30, 2004





Comments on "The Proof"

February 8, 2004 03:46 PM

just returning from vacation so a belated thanks. I like how you haven't rotated the verticals, since of course you can just rotate the paper. So now that you've answered the request to show us one of these, and seeing as I've just downloaded the free XnView, would it be considered asking for too much to request a brief tute on how you accomplished all this?

February 11, 2004 07:59 AM

Simplicity itself -- select the shots and press the "proofsheet" icon in XnView. Set the resolutions appropriately, and make sure that the margins are small -- the defaults leave a lot of white space.

It's worth doing some experiments to find which row/column arrangements fill the space best, to eek-out the most picture area depending on the shot count. I never go more than about 40 pix per page.

After that, the JPG pages are assembled in Adobe Acrobat Pro as a big honkin' PDF and written to a CD, which is printed at Copy Club in downtown San Jose (


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