But in reading further, I feel a credible case was made for having final print size in mind during the capture phase and set me to reflect on some of my own images.
This realization on ultimate image size now brings up some questions on matting:
Not only on matting, but on DoF considerations and even whether or not one should bother taking a particular shot at all. If one is going to take the attitude that digital images should not be interpolated beyond their native resolution, or at most interpolated only slightly, then we are left with the prospect that a camera such as the 5D is only good for 12x18" images or, at most, 16x24".
One could then find oneself gazing upon a scene and realising that one's 12MP camera is not adequate. Nothing less than a P45 or 4x5 film format, and perhaps even 11x14 film format will do. So one doesn't waste one's time taking the shot.
I tend to think this is a slightly absurd position to take. Have we really become victims of a false dichotomy between art and photography?
During the Renaissance, many painters used lenses and mirrors to project real life forms onto their canvas. As a result they were able to get the perspective, proportions and light and shadow falling on what they painted, exactly right. I guess they didn't advertise their technique much at the time. They no doubt tried to keep it a trade secret. But the fact is, much of the allure of such Renaissance paintings lies in their 'true to life' properties; the extraordinary attention to detail and the amazing accuracy with which the painters seem to have wielded their brush.
After the camera was invented (of course lenses came first) painters naturally became dismayed at the great precision of the camera, which they couldn't hope to compete with. I guess most of us have heard of Picasso's comment (apocryphal or not) regarding this, "I've discovered the camera. There's nothing left for me to do. I might as well commit suicide."
Whilst I'm no expert on the history of art, it seems irrefuatable that the emergence of the camera has had a profound effect on styles of painting. In a sense, painters have been freed from the tedious and painstaking chore of providing accurate fine detail in their paintings. But we photographers are still in straitjackets. We feel compelled to abide by the rules of public perception that the camera's true role is to provide accurate detail and that whatever else it provides (by way of artisitc inspiration, for example) should not be at the expense of any sacrifice in detail.
To return to my example of the Duomo at Siena, if I were to blow up this 6MP image to really huge proportions, say 20ftx26ft (too big for one's living room, but maybe right for a convention centre or airport) and, if Dale Cotton were to walk towards the right side of the print, take off his glasses and study from close up one of the 2 ladies sitting on the steps, he would see the following.
Now I ask you, is this worse than the confusing mess of brush strokes one might see on an impressionistic painting from close up. As a painter, one might find such close examination informative. As a non-painter one might be amazed at how the painter is able to create an impression that's appealing and meaningful from a distance of say 20ft, but almost incomprehensible from the distance that the painter would appear to have painted it.
On the other hand, as a photographer looking at the above image, one might also be impressed with the nature of the interpolation algorithm that is able to turn such photographic detail into something reminiscent of Picasso's cubism or at least an impressionistic painting.
And as for the client, he/she gets a huge photograph that looks sharp form an appropriate distance, and lots of little impressionist paintings from close up, thrown in for free .