Latest experiments in 35mm masking
What I'm trying to make is a pretty simple mask to help me burn in some complex highlights. I'm not after the usual unsharp masking edge effects. So I'm planning to expose the mask so that essentially everything except the bright highlights are on the shoulder of the masking film (ie no detail) and give very short, dilute development so I basically get low, even density everywhere in the mask except the highlights.
My issue is, clearly with 35mm negatives you need the mask to be less unsharp than with large format (ie it should be sharper for smaller film). According to Radeka's kit, he suggests using no spacer when making the mask. So it is just masking film emulsion down, and the negative (emulsion down) right on top. So that is one film base thickness creating some fuziness. Then when you print the sandwich, the mask is directly on top of the negative in the negative carrier - so again, a second degree of fuziness due to the thickness of the negative base separating the two. So a couple of questions to the masking experts out there:
1. Will this still work or will those two "generations" of fuziness make it too unsharp?
2. Radeka suggests using thin base ortho film (Kodalith etc) for the mask. To me it seems that would slightly reduce the first generation of unsharpness (ie less spacing when making the mask), so that ultimately when printing the mask will be slightly sharper. Is this necessary or should I be fine with regular base film? (keep in mind I will be making the masks on sheet film (4x5 or 8x10).
3. When talking about various masks, even relatively sharp ones, nobody ever seems to talk about the graininess of the mask. Is this a total non-issue, even with small or medium format? Is it because when enlarging, just the thickness of the negative base itself (even in 35mm) is enough to throw the mask image above it suffiently out of focus to hide grain? I'm asking because aren't these Kodalith and Arista Ortho films inherently grainy? Not to mention the fact Radeka suggests using dilute Dektol to develop them (= probably very grainy mask)? I guess this would also imply you need to be careful not to use too small an enlarging aperture, or else the depth of focus might include the mask. For small format film, would it be better to simply make this kind of mask with a film like TMAX100 for fine grain? And develop it in a dilute fine grain developer instead of something like Dektol?
4. How about other films like maybe Adox Ort25, or Ilford Ortho Copy Plus, Rollei Advanced Technical Ortho, Efke Ortho etc?
I'm a little confused. Thanks in advance. By the way, I'm ok with the registration issue. I think I can work it, even with 35mm.
Last edited by Michael R 1974; 07-05-2011 at 07:58 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I can't speak very authoritatively on the subject, but if you want to eliminate fuzziness I would go ahead and put the negative in contact to the masking film emulsion-to-emulsion, and use the smallest light source (point source) possible.
But like you say, maybe this will introduce problems with graininess, if there is no separation. That I can't say for sure. But aren't those ortho films slow enough that their grain is still smaller than fast panchromatic film? I don't know personally, having never used them.
I'd say you could use whatever film you'd like for the masking, and since this is 35mm, you could even cut up a few strips from a roll and try a variety of combinations; not losing much by wasting big sheets of film.
I do think there is something about putting two films together (true in any multi-layer system) that reduces the effect of graininess. Overlaying grain with grain will probably reduce the apparent grain due to kind of a randomizing effect.
Anyways, just some thoughts from someone with very little actual experience in this..
If you are the big tree, we are the small axe
I think there are alot of variables and it's going to just come down to some good old experimentation. It does seem logical that two in-focus layers of emulsion might reduce graininess due to randomization. But I've never tried it. I might try that too - ie make the mask sharp (emulsion to emulsion) and then print it that way. The potential drawback there is in printing, the mask is below the negative. Not sure if that would have an impact on image quality. Lots of things to try here. I wish I had the time to lock myself in the darkroom and run experiments like this non stop for a week or two...
Originally Posted by Michael R 1974
If you are the big tree, we are the small axe