Unsharp/sharp masking with Beseler 810MXT
I'm getting ready to try unsharp and/or sharp masking. Most of my negatives are 57 so I'm using a Beseler 810MXT. It looks like I will have to heavily modify my negative holders to make precision alignment possible. Anybody else doing this? Problems and successes?
It sure doesn't seem like there is that much information about this process that is readily available.
Thanks for all your help.
Those that I am aware of that are using this process are the following:
Howard Bond...Unsharp masking only, to the best of my knowledge. Uses a Bessler enlarger as you do. Primarily seems to photograph with 5X7 today.
Lynn Radeka...Sharp and unsharp masking...
Charles Phillips...probably the most proficient in technique of the black and white printers...Very elaborate horizontal and vertical enlargers. 8X10 negatives only. does not teach
Durst Pro USA... sells film punches based on the Conditt design. I believe that they offer workshops in masking.
Greywolf (apug sn)...Canadian photographer that has an article on Apug regarding masking.
Myself...I have covered my equipment, it's design parameters, and experience via previous email.
Christopher Burkett...masks color transparencies.
This may give you some additional places to check. I want to mention again that if you truly want to do sharp masking then you will need a registered film punch, register mask printing frame, and a registered negative stage on your enlarger to allow mask changes during the printing of a single image.
Unsharp masking does not require the degree of precision and repeatability that sharp masking requires...there are most probably a far larger number of photographers that use unsharp masking then there are that do sharp masking.
I'm thinking about doing this too, and used this link as a starting point for information:
There is quite a bit of information out there, it's a little hard to find at times.
I have a couple images I masked in my gallery. I do both sharp and unsharp masking. I use a Condit punch and have a registration easel to tape the negative and mask together.
Which looks a little heavy from the scan, but just used as an example.
I've used both ortho lith film and regular film for masks. I like regular film better due to the dimensional stability of the film. (The thicker the film the better).
Here are a few resources I have found on the web...
Film punches and more...
(Call for info, web site still under construction)
And I have a punch and easel from Alistair Ingles, if I got the name right. He is in Canada and made all sorts of these things. Haven't heard much from him for a while.
And, of course, ask questions, there is somone out here that can answer, I'm sure.
Is the 8x10 MXT the same as the 4x5 MXT, in that the negative stage drops when you replace the negative carrier? If so, you may want to make a negative carrier holder (it stays in place in the enlarger and your negative/mask carrier slips into it) so you'll never have to drop the negative stage while printing...a HUGE help in ensuring registration.
Radeka's Precision Carrier System is the slickest for sure. He uses 5x7 film for masking his 4x5's, so it may work for a full 5x7 negative. He's very open to questions; so give him a shout.
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Murray, thanks for the tips. The 810MX and 45MX are the same in that respect. The 810 has the same bottom parts, but changes and adds an expanded lamp and negative holder above the rest. I think you are right about this. I should make a negative carrier that is just fixed right in there and I can slide a negative 'tray' in. This will give me a good system for 45 and smaller and then modify the top for registration in the same way.
Robert, Chuck, Donald, Thank you three, too. All help is welcome. I've sent off for the Celestial Photo book by Wallis that is mentioned in some of the websites. I figure any tips I get will help. I don't think there is near enough info out there on this subject of unsharp masking and sharp masking is almost non-existant.
If any of you have pictures of your equipment, it would be welcomed and I'm sure others are interested.
You may find that there's an 'aura of secrecy' around all of this, but that's because every choice in enlarger, light source, negative carrier, registration pins, punch, masking film, developer, dilutions and agitation used will demand a method unique to you. There are simply too many variables to write a how-to manual.
Radeka's masking kit came with the registration pins, duratrans (diffusion material), and enough advice on lithographers tape, double sided tape (for making pin registration negative carrier), as well as how masking film and the negative are situated while making the different masks, and mask processing to give me a solid shove in the right direction.
Murray, It sounds as if you bought the same kit that I bought from Radeka...I haven't seen his new kit. I understand that it is supposedly improved.
Originally Posted by MurrayMinchin
I've done contrast reduction/unsharp masking with a contact printing frame and simply lined up the mask with the film on a lightbox and taped it together. It's fine if you're not doing too many and you aren't using a mask (eg shadow contrast mask) which can't be done with the eyes. There are a couple of chapters on masking in Way Beyond Monochrome by Ralph Lambrecht and Chris Woodhouse - one of the chapters in question was written by Lynn Radeka. I've used TMX for CRM and Ilford Ortho+ for B&W unsharp masking. Proper registration equipment would certainly make it easier but for what I do it isn't necessary.