To mask or not to mask

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by JOSarff, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. JOSarff

    JOSarff Member

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    When contact printing your negative in various historic processes, do you mask the area outside the negative, or let it go black?

    Secondly, do you cut your mats to hide or show the black?
     
  2. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    No, I don't mask and yes I let it show. I like the rough edged look.
     
  3. nsurit

    nsurit Subscriber

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    It depends on the image. Some I have masked, some have been matted to crop out the rough edges and some I just gone crazy with a paint brush and included that as part of the piece. Guess that pretty much didn't answer your question. Here is one that I pretty much went crazy with the paint brush. http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2008/index.php?id=1349&Province=Texas

    Maybe this is what that "different strokes for different folks" deal is about . . . or maybe it isn't. Bill Barber
     
  4. bobherbst

    bobherbst Member

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    Masking Pt/Pd Prints

    As far as masking and black borders, I have done it all at different times in my work and I can safely say it is a personal choice for whatever phase you are in. I used to crop with the overmat. Then I matted the prints showing the hand coated black border. I’m a fairly precise coater so the border is fairly narrow but it is clearly hand coated. Then I started masking off the negatives so no black border showed. This can be a problem if you have any pure white anywhere on the edge of the image. The image bleeds off the sheet through the hole at the edge. Then I started masking the paper outside the negative edges with a removable tape, coated the paper, and removed the tape immediately so I had a clean and straight-edged black border. I personally prefer a clean edge whether a black border or not, but that’s a preference from a printer’s perspective in terms of presentation. I’ve coated thousands of prints so I don’t feel the need to prove I can coat by showing the borders. But it’s all a personal preference.

    What I can tell you is that most of the people who buy my prints want to see the uneven hand coated border. When I’ve showed my work to museum curators and galleries, one of the first things they do is lift the overmat to see the entire print, border showing or not.

    Bob
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    With albumen, gold toner is too expensive to have large black areas outside the live image; it's hard enough to get a perfect coating the size of the image area let alone larger; and since coating is usually done by the float method, you don't get interesting brushstrokes, so most albumen printers trim to size. I don't think I've ever seen a historic albumen print with a sloppy border.

    APUG member, Gandolfi, posted a few albumen prints a while back that were brush coated and had a border, but he likes printing artifacts in general.
     
  6. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    I crop my prints. I don't like visible dark brushed edges for several reasons: they clash with my high key printing, I don't always compose to the edge of the frame (people move especially when in close), and if I'm brutally honest they feel like an affectation or an introduced artifact born out of fear ("proving" it's a hand coated print means nothing if the image is poor; if the image is great then what have you got to prove?). I also think it's pointless using an overmat to hide stuff I don't want to show - firstly because it's still there for anyone to see, secondly because it requires an extremely accurate overmat which doesn't shift to reveal or hide edge details, and thirdly because if the overmat is lost or damaged then you've lost your composition.

    I do occasionally use a brushed edge if it's within the film area so the print fades away to nothing without the jarring dark edges. That's sometimes very nice although it's quite difficult to get right.
     
  7. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

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    I don't see what the fuss is about brushed borders. They're a fact of processing unless you really really like doing a lot of draft taping or cutting down post-production work. I don't like matting because, well, I don't like to make them. It's all too formal for me personally. I like people to be touchy feely about my stuff and not treat it as absolutely precious. It's just a photo.
     
  8. davido

    davido Subscriber

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    I agree that the brushed border is part of the process, it's when it takes away from the image that I'm not in favour of them. I made a series of landscapes which I ended up over-matting the edges because the edges were so thick that they seemed confining to the image. I had been coating with a rod which was wider than the image area, which resulted in thick borders. Now, I'm using a brush for coating and very much enjoying the look of coating as close as possible to the image area. However, I do find the dry brush stroke look, for the most part, very distracting.
    It seems to me that in these times revealing the process is important, if only to set your work apart from digital work.

    -david
     
  9. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    The brushwork is part of the process but the process is only the means to an end - which for me is a finished print. Here is a 'before' and an 'after' JPEG of the print I've just posted in the gallery (Stray Hair). The first one shows the print 'au naturelle' with brushed border, etc., while the second shows it cropped and mounted. The two feel very different - in the first one the border imprisons the image and distracts the viewer - but once cropped and mounted the print is liberated and, most importantly, it's finished.
     

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  10. boyooso

    boyooso Member

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    Ian,

    So you cut the image out of the the paper it was printed on? Is that correct? May I ask how you 'mount' it?

    Thanks,

    Corey
     
  11. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    Yes, I crop the print and mount it onto a heavier sheet using dry-mount tissue in a press. That way someone can display the print as they wish. Float mounting looks particularly good, but so does a conventional overmat.