What is Selective Masking?
What is Selective Masking – and what it can do for you!
Over the years I’ve (Alan Ross) evolved a technique I have come to refer to as Selective Masking. I use the term “selective” because it is a physical, hands-on method of tonal control in analog printing, rather that the photometric “unsharp masking”. In its basic form, it’s not techno-anything; it simply is a means of solidifying your own dodging and burning preferences into a “package” which remains absolutely constant from print to print. You can change your mind about how you want that package to perform; you can dodge and burn in greater detail than with traditional methods and with absolute consistency from print to print. It works with either a diffusion enlarger or in contact printing. It does NOT work with condenser enlargers.
Carried to the ’nth degree, Selective Masking can transform the job of printing a challenging negative from one of agonizing difficulty to the mere push of a button: a “straight” print from the untouched, unmodified original negative. Any size print. Local contrast changes can be made, and that oh-so-smooth gradual sky burn can be built into the mask package. It’s a technique I’d been sharing with friends and students for several years, and in 1999 I put the techniques on paper in the form of several articles published in ViewCamera Magazine. This 2010 series includes some updates to the original text and illustrations in Part I; Parts II and III have been completely rewritten.
For the CD and other materials see my Darkroom and Education Products page.