A friend offered me such a good deal on his Epson 9800 printer that I couldn't pass it up. Learning to print 44 in. wide has been an educational experience in ways I didn't entirely anticipate.
I did anticipate clearing space. The sucker's big. It's 4 ft. high, over 5 ft. long, and over 2 ft. deep. Fortunately, we have a garage that has accumulated many unneeded possessions over two decades (Daly City houses lack amenities like attics). Paula and I tackled the garage and with relatively little trauma had cleared a 6 ft. by 6 ft. open space for this printer.
But the harsh reality is that I'll be needing a lot more square footage. How about large flat surfaces on which I can lay or hang prints, with good lighting? Think about it...just where would you put a 3 x 4 ft. print (which is by no means the largest print I might make) for inspection? Worse yet, where would you put two of them if you wanted to compare successive generations of work?
I'm accustomed to handling fiber-base photographic prints up to 20 x 24 in. I almost never damage a print. I instinctively know how much stress and strain the paper will take. Inkjet roll paper prints have a curl to them that doesn't want to let you lay them out flat; there's no safety margin for stress and it's really easy to put a kink in a large print. In fact it requires constant concentration to avoid it.
I'm learning; I ain't there. I can now pretty comfortably handle 30 x 40 in. prints, but I made a 40 x 74 in. print for Laurie Edison and I managed to screw up the first one. No creases, but I didn't take into account the sheer weight of the paper and I scuffed the surface lifting the print out of the printer basket.
I'm still working out the best way to roll and unroll prints and store and ship them. Drafting tissue looks like a good interleaf; if I cut it longer than the print, I can tape the rolled up prints closed by taping the tissue to itself.
In my big prints even grain (pixel)-level flaws become glaringly obvious. I'm having to go over images pixel by pixel at 100% scale and get rid of every single bloody defect I can see on the screen. It takes me at least one test print to catch them all; I always miss something. Even starting with a clean file it's a day's work to prep an image, and almost all that time is spent spotting. Bored now!
I'm going to have to rescan any negatives I want to put in a large portfolio because my previous scans just aren't good enough for really large prints. It seems that every four or five years I have to do new scans. Each time I do it I try to engage in such "scan overkill" that I will never have to do it again. A handful of years later my needs have expanded beyond my wildest imaginings. This time I'm scanning at maximum resolution, which hits me with 800 MB files from my 6x7 cm negs. I don't need 800 MB files right now, but I sure need 400. Which means....
I'm going to have to get a new computer. My 32-bit machine is simply not adequate for this; nowhere near enough RAM. Photoshop works, but it's horridly slow. I'm hitting memory limits on making really large prints that I haven't figured out work-arounds for. I've got to go 64-bit soon. So a new MacIntel is in the offing. I need a new laptop, which will limit me to 4 GB of RAM, but it'll be a zillion times faster than what I've got now.
It's a real learning experience. Oh, joy.