Sometimes it's good to be wrong.
Not so long ago, I wrote about my experiences of printing one of my 5x4 negatives, and recorded my dissatisfaction with the image as a print. Readers of this blog will recall that I was especially disturbed by the large shifts in focus; I found myself putting this print on A4 paper to one side.
The other day I decided to re-visit the file and printed it onto A3+ paper. The result was a revelation. The focus issues weren't gone - I would hardly expect them to be - but they were certainly different. Crucially, they weren't nearly so distracting, making the print much, much more satisfying.
There are a number of factors at work here, but the key one is clearly the size of the print. I think there is much in the idea that an image 'wants' to be a certain size. There are relationships of depth of field, subject and background interactions, detail and subject placement that pull or push against a given size. Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that a 5x4 negative is leaning towards a bigger physical form in the final print.
I'm happy because this is the difference between 'this negative isn't going to make a piece' (of photographic art) and 'it is' ... just. For the time being I'm especially pleased to see the beauty of a negative realised in such a way that it hadn't been before. It is an image with some compositional and timing strengths, so this is a win for me.