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Thread: Unsharp masks

  1. #1
    olleorama's Avatar
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    Unsharp masks

    How many here does it? How big negatives do you guys bother doing the masks with? What film do you use and what do you use in between the neg and the mask?

    Is it possible to do one with color negs and what film do you use for that?

    Thankful for answers!

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    Robert Hall's Avatar
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    I mask up to 12x20 and use an ortho litho film. I have registration equipment for 35mm on up.

    I don't always mask, but typically when I do I'm quite happy with the results.

    BW film only.
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    olleorama's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Hall View Post
    I mask up to 12x20 and use an ortho litho film. I have registration equipment for 35mm on up.

    I don't always mask, but typically when I do I'm quite happy with the results.

    BW film only.
    What do you use in between the negative and the lith film to make it unsharp? Do you do it with 35mm???

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    2F/2F's Avatar
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    I do it, but mostly with color. There is a much more limited amount of contrast control available with color materials than there is with b/w ones, and it helps quite a bit. I have done it up to 4x5. It is really the way to print color well, IMHO. It is just as great of a tool with b/w, but seldom as necessary, as there are a million other ways to manipulate b/w prints to get what you want.

    The bigger the film, the easier it is IME. The hardest part is registration. That's why the less you have to blow something up (i.e. the larger the film), the easier it is to make it look good.

    You can also do masks right on the paper. Aside from having it's "regular" uses, it is one of the main tricks used by Jerry Uelsmann and other composite photo printers.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 09-17-2011 at 05:53 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

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    olleorama's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    I do it, but mostly with color. There is a much more limited amount of contrast control available with color materials than there is with b/w ones, and it helps quite a bit. I have done it up to 4x5. It is really the way to print color well, IMHO. It is just as great of a tool with b/w, but seldom as necessary, as there are a million other ways to manipulate b/w prints to get what you want.

    The bigger the film, the easier it is IME. The hardest part is registration. That's why the less you have to blow something up (i.e. the larger the film), the easier it is to make it look good.

    You can also do masks right on the paper. Aside from having it's "regular" uses, it is one of the main tricks used by Jerry Uelsmann and other composite photo printers.
    Can you explain in detail how you do it, and what materials you use for color? How do you do it on paper`??

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    There's a very good writeup of the process in Ctein's book Post Exposure, which is a free PDF download on his website. Well recommended. Another write up is in Barry Thornton's book (I forget the name, the 2nd book...), using slightly different materials and method. Both would be suitable for color, Ctein's is written for color expressly. Agreed with 2F that it's really the best way to print color. I haven't made masks yet but plan to do so soon, probably this winter when there's less stuff to shoot and more time for darkroom work.

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    olleorama's Avatar
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    I have a book in Swedish with some notes on how to do it in B&W, but it's pretty vague. I'll look up cteins book, I have it on my harddrive somewhere.

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    BradS's Avatar
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    I;ve heard of contrast masks -- especially with regard to making prints from color slides -- but, never heard of "unsharp mask"....

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    olleorama's Avatar
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    Found a good primer on LF.info: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/unsharp/

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    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradS View Post
    I;ve heard of contrast masks -- especially with regard to making prints from color slides -- but, never heard of "unsharp mask"....
    Contact-printed contrast masks, and most other types of masks, are purposefully made slightly unsharp to make for smoother transitions and easier registration. Though the term being used to describe masks in general is due to people coming up with Photoshop instead of a darkroom. I always heard them called "silver masks." But then again, I think you must know that already, and what you said was maybe just your way of pointing this out to the OP.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 09-17-2011 at 10:50 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

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