masks for contact printing?
At this years VC conference in Rockford I attended Alan Ross's speaking session and became intrigued with the masks he creates for enlarging by tracing the areas to be dodged with a pencil on frosted mylar. He made mention of using them for contact printing as well but I neglected to take notes for the particulars.
Has anyone used masks for contact printing only that can expand on this?
Is the material I need called frosted mylar?
Do I just sandwich it between the negative and the glass?
I have used masking for contact printing. I used APHS ortho lith films to produce contrast reduction masks. However you could do what Alan Ross has used by using frosted mylar and sandwiching it between the glass and the negative. I usually afiix the mask to the negative with 1/4 inch lithographers tape to provide registration.
If you use variable contrast materials, you can alter local contrast by using blue and/or green to color dodge.
Any masking that can be used for enlarging can also be used with contact printing. That means not only dodging but unsharp masking, contrast increasing masking, shadow contrast increasing mask etc..etc...
I've used RC paper as a contrast reduction mask for making contact photographs. Registration is by using the corner of the contact frame for the negative and the RC. When the RC is processed and dry it goes in the contact frame over the negative. This masking method does not work with fibre base paper because FB dimensions after processing are different than before.
Photography, the word itself, invented and defined by its author Sir John.F.W.Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society, Somerset House, London. Quote "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..". unquote.
An old contact print dodging/burn-in masking trick is to cut out a tissue paper mask that is the size and shape of the area of interest, then sandwich it in the contact frame in register with the negative. The the light transmission characteristics of the mask material will determine if it is a dodging mask or a burn-in mask.
Everything is analog - even digital :D
My reply is late, but I hope it will still be useful. Alan's procedure is described in detail via a series of articles in View Camera magazine. I have copies and will get the dates for you. I use this procedure regularly for both enlarging and contact printing. It is a wonderful tool. You will need some **translucent** plexiglass. 1/16 inch is best, but 1/8 inch works too. You tape your plexiglass over the glass of the contact frame. I remove the glass from the frame. The negative is taped on the bottom side of the glass, and the plexiglass is on the top side. With Alan's procedure, you don't sandwich the frosted mylar between the negative and the glass. You tape the frosted mylar over the plexiglass, which is taped on top of the glass. By using the translucent plexiglass, the penciling effects go unnoticed because of the diffusion effect of the plexiglass. You do want to be smooth about it, but the plexiglass reduces the need for absolute smoothness in the penciling. There's also no grain effect due to penciling, because the plexiglass removes it. You place the glass on the lighbox and tape the frosted mylar over the plexiglass. At this point you will see a fuzzy image thru the plexi/frosted mylar. You can dodge/burn a tree, rock, whatever, *precisely* by penciling in on the frosted mylar. If you don't like the results, just remove the frosted mylar and start over. How do you burn? Just cut a hole in the frosted mylar the exact shape of the area you want to burn. Use as many sheets of frosted mylar as necessary to get the burn you need. I've also used tracing paper with the frosted mylar when I really need to burn an area in really well. You tape all your frosted mylar sheets/tracing paper sheets together to create a "mask package". When you need to make an identical print, just align the "mask package" with your negative by viewing the fuzzy image via the light box. Alan uses an example in the article where he forgot that his filter causes vigneting. The corners of the print were vignetted. No problem. Just pencil them out! He has a "before and after" image in the article. With this procedure you can burn/dodge as many areas as needed simultaneously. Alan has a list of materials that he uses and where he gets them in the articles.
Part 2 or 3 (I can't recall at the moment) of his articles on Selective Masking describe a procedure in which you scan the negative into the computer. You then use Photoshop to "pencil in" the areas you need to dodge. You print the "mask" on overhead transparency material with yellow ink, to be used with variable contrast paper. This allows you to dodge/burn and control contrast in multiple areas simultaneously. The procedure is too lengthy to describe here, but when I get the View Camera article dates, you can get the articles and read about it in detail.
Last edited by ciocc; 09-20-2006 at 01:46 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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For those who use VC materials in contact printing, one additional masking technique that can be used is "dye dodging", By varying the color of the dye used, you can affect the contrast within the dodged area. Magenta and yellow or blue and green can be the extremes avaliable for this technique. The use of dyes has greater latitude than pencil dodging when using VC materials.
For instance an example would be a distant ridge line or mountain range where you want to increase the impression of depth because of aerial tonal diminishment, the use of green or yellow would be more effective than the use of magenta or blue.
On the other hand if you have a foreground object or region that would benefit from the impression of inherent light via increased local contrast, then magenta or blue would be more effective because of the dye color affecting the high contrast emulsion layer.
In contact printing a diffuse material such as frosted mylar can be used whereas dye dodging for enlarging would benefit from the use of an optically clear substrate on which to dye dodge.
While some do not favor retouch dodging on the camera negative, I have never found it to be bothersome since the effects of dye retouching are reversable in my experience. I have retouched on both the base and emulsion side of the film with no difference in the results obtained...regardless of what others will tell you.
I've studied with Alan in the past and can attest that his techniques on contrast masking are very useful. If you're interested in doing this, I strongly suggest getting your hands on copies of his articles. If you email him I'm sure he would oblige. Since most of my work is contact prints, I've had to do a bit of experimenting to modify some of Alan's ideas. You can make or have someone make you a pin registered contact printing frame and make your own masks by contact printing film. I've had some good results doing this, but I have to admit that if a negative is too much trouble, I move on to something else. In addition to the technique described above using a pencil (which works very well), another "quick fix" that I've had great success with is placing overhead projector transparencies over the negative on a light table and using a red Sharpie to mask out small areas on the negative. During the exposure, I lay this over the contact printing frame and slide it around a little bit. It has worked wonders on several negatives and proved disastrous with others, but is worth the 5 minutes it takes to make one. Best of luck.
The article is in the July/August 1999 issue of View Camera magazine. Scott's suggestion of emailing him is probably the easiest way to get the article. There are two others in the series that are worth reading:
September/October 1999 and November/December 1999. All of the articles are titled "Selective Masking".
Thanks everyone, when I met Alan after his lecture he seemed like a really basic no nonsense type of photographer. I'll fire off an email to him as suggested.
'To the complaint, 'There are no people in these photographs,' I respond, 'There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.'
Donald Miller Quote: I have retouched on both the base and emulsion side of the film with no difference in the results obtained...regardless of what others will tell you.[/quote]
Donald, I have a feeling this comment was meant for me!
Once again you are wrong! The retouching done on the base side cannot be anything else but the thickness of the film base less sharp when contact printed or enlarged. For greater diffusion add more layers of matte acetate/mylar to increase the distance between the emulsion grain and the actual retouching done on the acetate or mylar.
Retouching done on the emulsion side is in exact contact with the grain of the emulsion resulting in the exact same degree of sharpness as the grain itself. Any effort to diffuse retouching done on the emulsion side will
result in diffusing the whole image on the negative.
Anyone that ever retouched a negative has worked on both sides of the negative. There is a difference Donald, even if you don't want to admit it!
The difference can and will be noticable in the finished print.
This tid bit of information is not my own discovery, it has been known and used by real retouchers since flaws were found in the first negatives ever made. So Donald, I am not trying to tilt you off of your "Guru Seat", but what I have said is fact.
Last edited by Charles Webb; 09-21-2006 at 12:11 PM. Click to view previous post history.