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  1. #1

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    What are the ways a photographer's name can be burned onto a print?

    I haven't printed an enlargement in years (just recently got back into developing b&w film, but don't have an enlarger yet), but I've seen prints from as far back as the 50s where the photographer's name or some other information was printed in small black letters in the bottom border of an 8x10, or in the image area itself. I sort of remember reading how this was done, but I've since forgotten it. Is there some kind of small device that comes in contact with the photo paper, which projects the photographer's name onto the paper, either before or after it has been exposed by the light from the enlarger? Or is there just some mask with the printed information punched/cut into it and you make a second exposure on the paper using that mask? Sorry if this is a stupid question or has been asked before. I tried to search for the answer but didn't have much luck.

  2. #2
    polyglot's Avatar
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    A stencil would do it. Do the print, put the stencil on (covering everything else) and give it some more light, then develop it. You'll get your name in black, in the emulsion.

  3. #3

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    in the days of autographic film, there was a trap door that opened
    and the photographer used a stylus and wrote info in the door/spot
    it was like carbon paper and transfered to the negative and appeared
    as white letters on the print ..

    you could so something similar and take a sheet of mylar / plastic
    larger than the image and write your name on it and print through it onto the paper it will appear white on the print ...
    im empty, good luck

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    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    White logos were also popular, and easier to make: just a bit of lithographic film with black lettering/logo/signature put at the corner of the paper when the enlargement is made.
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    in the days of autographic film, there was a trap door that opened
    and the photographer used a stylus and wrote info in the door/spot
    it was like carbon paper and transfered to the negative and appeared
    as white letters on the print ..

    you could so something similar and take a sheet of mylar / plastic
    larger than the image and write your name on it and print through it onto the paper it will appear white on the print ...
    The type of printing I'm thinking of was done at the time the print was made, but the lettering/printing was black. So, it may have just been some type of stencil that the photographer had made up. I thought I had read about some other device that could "burn" the photographer's name onto the paper, but I may have been mistaken.

  6. #6
    Newt_on_Swings's Avatar
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    I have seen some old prints where the printer had seem to have written directly on the print before development, to mark an event, and the the writing was bright white. My grandfather has one of a naval ship with this informal, non-stenciled writing on it prominently right below the middle of print, under the main subject. Maybe a dip of a quill pen in fixer, and a quick scribble before it was put into the developer? or some other vehicle like petroleum jelly that blocks developer reaching the surface?

  7. #7
    Paul VanAudenhove's Avatar
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    For white lettering on the print, my guess would be the photographer wrote on the negative with ink. I've seen prints like that, and as far as I could tell, they all seem to be large format negatives. It makes sense if you think of it as both a way to identify the negatives as well as the prints.

    FWIW, the ones I have seen were school pictures of my mother (mid 1930's) and were captioned with school, class and year (no individual names).

  8. #8
    Worker 11811's Avatar
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    Completely theoretical idea:

    1) Make a stencil out of metal. You can make it yourself by acid etching a thin piece of tin plate.
    2) Insert the stencil into the lens of a flashlight so as to make a kind of gobo.
    3) Press the flashlight against the paper and turn it on for just a second.
    (Turn the light off before lifting from the paper!)
    4) Develop. You will have your logo burned in black letters onto your picture.

    This will take some experimentation to get it right but I think it could work if somebody was willing to tinker.

    Two potential problems I can think of would be:

    1) The stencil has to be pressed tight against the paper to get a clean edge on the logo.
    2) There can be no light leaks in the flashlight or around the edge of the bezel that touches the paper.

    However, if the kinks can be worked out, this would be the photographic equivalent to rubber stamping your name and logo onto a picture.
    Randy S.

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    http://www.flickr.com/photos/randystankey/

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Pieper View Post
    The type of printing I'm thinking of was done at the time the print was made, but the lettering/printing was black. So, it may have just been some type of stencil that the photographer had made up. I thought I had read about some other device that could "burn" the photographer's name onto the paper, but I may have been mistaken.
    hi mike

    since the lettering is black, it means there is no emulsion

    maybe the photographer did something totally crazy-low-tech like
    use a rubber stamp and ink ....

    john
    im empty, good luck

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    hi mike

    since the lettering is black, it means there is no emulsion

    maybe the photographer did something totally crazy-low-tech like
    use a rubber stamp and ink ....

    john

    One example is from what looks like an original Peter Gowland 8x10 print that I won on ebay several months ago. I received two prints of actress/model Elinor Donahue frolicking in the surf (she was an early Gowland model). I later wrote to Elinor and asked if she would sign the back of the photo for me. She agreed, and also wrote that the photo had been taken in either 1950 or '51.

    Gowland's name appears in the actual image area of the print she signed, because there was no border on that one. The printing is actually very small and it doesn't look like it was stamped in ink. It's perfectly aligned and there are no extraneous ink marks. I could test the second print I have, where the name appears in the border area (I could wet it and see if it smears), but it doesn't really look like ink to me. This was a practice that Gowland frequently used, as I've also received a copy of a 1961 Gowland print from another of his models, with the same Peter Gowland credit in the lower right corner of the image (the model was given the print as partial payment for doing a test shoot).

    I hope this is not breaking any rules here, but here's an example: (I don't think his first name looks out of focus on the actual print - that was probably due to my scanner).



    As Worker 11811 alluded to, I thought perhaps there was a small light-tight box (except for the stencil end) commonly in use that had a light source inside and the photographer could just press the device against the paper and then flip a switch to turn on the light. If no one has heard of such a thing, then I guess my imagination just got the best of me! If the name was just stamped on, I would love to know how it was done, as the printing is very small and detailed, and looks like it's part of the image. I do know that he used a stencil for his medium format contact sheets, where it said Peter Gowland Productions on the left hand side of the 8x10.

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