How to use a 4-bladed easel?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Poohblah, Jan 17, 2009.

  1. Poohblah

    Poohblah Member

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    Recently I found a 4-bladed easel buried in a pile of stuff in the closet at my school's photography classroom. Normally we use the little quick easels that have preset masks in standard sizes. This particular 4-bladed easel is not a high quality easel by any means, but I would still like to use it. However, I am having trouble lining up the paper with the spot that the blades will fall upon. How would I go about making sure that my borders are even?
     
  2. Marcust101

    Marcust101 Member

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    Poohblah

    There's usually a couple of groves in the base which you can use to guide the paper, if so put a sheet of paper in the groove and push it tight to one side then line up the blades of the easel on it. This is repeatable in the dark with a little practice.

    If there are no grooves then perhaps someone else can pipe in with a suggestion.

    cheers

    Marcus
     
  3. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Yes. There must be some "groove" or other mechanical thing to guide/facilitate the placement of the paper. If not, it would be difficult, at best, to get the paper where one wanted.

    But, assuming there is not, you can make your own placement guides with tape.

    I use (even with quality easels) gridded paper for setting up. This facilitates two things: If cropping the negative, I get the proper alignment of the image on the paper, i.e., making sure something is (or is not) centered, or the horizon straight, or whatever. (Obviously, if one prints the entire negative, especially with the rebate showing, this is moot.)

    The other thing I use the gridded paper for is to set the blades for the margins I want. I find this method - even on a Saunders or Kostiner easel - to be much more precise than using the scales on the easel itself.

    So, look for the device on your easel for positioning the paper. If there is not one: take a piece of paper and draw lines on it for the margins you want, and use this to set the blades where you want them. Then use that paper still in place to put some tape on the base of the easel to show where the printing paper goes. That should do it.
     
  4. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Hi, if it is a Saunders easel, put the the paper in the proper slot and slide it all the way to the left end of the slot. Then adjust your easel blades by scale to the size of print that you want.

    Jon
     
  5. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    As David implied, one of the frustrations with four-blade easels is that the borders are not necessarily equal. I've come to put in the same category as weather, death and taxes - its another of the things you can't do much about. If I want equal white borders, I set up the easel to make the borders a bit wider than I want, and plan to trim the print after it has dried. I also sometimes trim off the borders when mounting prints, so unnevenness doesn't matter.

    The general placement suggestions made by other respondents were good - provided the paper is a standard size.

    I often cut 11x14 paper into two 7x10 sheets (with a couple of test strips left over). This complicates placement in a four-blade easel. What I have done is to take the time to measure the easel without paper and with the lights on. I set the blade closest to the track that holds the paper to provide a narrow border, and knowing the width of the specially-cut paper, I can then place the second blade to put a similar border on the opposite side. Finally, I note the position of that second blade on a small piece of Avery paper that I've applied to one of the blades so that I can repeat the setup without having to repeat the measurements.
     
  6. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    I use tape on my big Saunders for some paper edges. I also find having diagonals (at the corner points for my standard paper sizes) helps get the paper aligned.

    I actually have two sets of marks. One is off-center for handling a format where the column on one of my enlargers gets in the way. Four-blade easels are intended to be centered on the optical axis, and square to the carrier. Selective cropping requires that you either move the easel, which is not always possible, or calculate a new centre and blade offsets. The moral of this is don't use an easel as large as your baseboard for everything :cool:
     
  7. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    I take the backside of waste sheets and draw with a pencil inside my best guess at setting the borders. set draw set draw until you have it right. Then take a fresh sheet of wasted paper and draw the correct margins one last time. This is your template for the future. Always shift the paper in the groove to the same direction (left) as there is a bit of play. write in the centre the size pf picture it is. and you can have one for 7 1/2x 9 1/2, 4 1/2x6 1/2 etc.
     
  8. patricia de roeck

    patricia de roeck Member

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    The only way to save your sanity easle-wise is to follow Bill's advice and once you have the margins right, tape the stupid thing up and have an easle for each size - if the blades don't sit totally flat pop a slim magnet on each blade - I haven't met an easle yet that I didn't have to modify in some small way just to get it to do the job it was actually designed for!
    Patricia
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I had one four-blade easel made by Honeywell-Nikor I think that had a movable fifth blade with the slot for positioning the paper. It was a good idea, but mine was old and hard to keep in alignment, so I often ended up using tape to keep it all straight, like Patricia suggests.

    More recently, I got a good deal on a Saunders V-Track, and it really works like it's supposed to and stays aligned.
     
  10. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    I believe that the Salthill easels also used a fifth blade instead of paper slots. That might be an advantage in using less popular paper sizes, such as 12x16.
     
  11. msdemanche

    msdemanche Member

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    The first thing I require most in my darkroom is to make a set of dodging tools and set the blades for their prints. The gridded paper idea is what I also use. I have each take the paper, measure about 1/2 inch from the edges and draw a sharpie type line. The grid is drawn with thin ink lines, in about 1 inch squares. Next that paper is placed in the easel and pushed tight to the left side. Now they can place their negative and see the paper, without the blades in place. I have them focus and center the image. The outline shows them consistent margins, if they are working with 35mm they must print the full frame, and so they move the guides to the edge of the image. I then have them outline that margin with a colored ink. They then do their 120 image and their 4X5. that gives them a guide for each type they may print. they repeat the process for 11X14, and 16X20 ( printing frame only can give up to a good 16X20). Many of these easels are older and the blades do not like to be moved, so I tell them, set up for a number of prints and try to plan your printing. They have nice even white boarders. For prints that will be cropped, the crop is made by the blades and the print still maintains the the ratio of an uncropped print.
    For really large like the 20X24's or the 30X40's I print, I have made a type of frame with heavy mattboard that is effective. It is modeled on the saunders we have, I will glad to explain it to anyone that is interested. yours Michel