Scanning negs...the Diane Arbus way!
Old 11-22-2008   #1
mabelsound
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Scanning negs...the Diane Arbus way!

For those of you who are suckers for the "rough-edged frame" look in certain of Diane Arbus's (and other photographers') prints...and think it's kinda lame to photoshop one in...here's a solution for you.

Now let me preface this by saying I'm perfectly aware that some of you, especially if you were active in the 60s and 70s or went to art school, find this look hopelessly passe. But I like it sometimes. So there's that out of the way.

Arbus's prints, in the years when she was printing with a black frame, got that way because she had made a little custom extra-wide mask for her enlarger out of a piece of cardboard. (I believe it was an Ilford paper box, in fact.) I was scanning my negs on the V500 last night, trying to do some extra-nice scans to print, and it suddenly occurred to me I could do the same thing--make a custom cardboard tray for the scanner. I gave it a shot. Here it is:



It took an hour's work to get the right size hole and the right quality of edge. The cardboard was too fibrous, so I covered the edges with white adhesive inkjet paper. I positioned the neg by holding the whole thing up to a lamp and eyeballing it. Those taped-up things to the left are to put on top of the tray so it all gets squeezed flat when the lid is closed on the scanner.

Once I'd processed the scan to my liking in lightroom, I ran the localized-effect brush around the edge and applied high contrast to it, so the area outside the mask would be totally white. Then I exported to PS and expanded the canvas for printing. Voila!



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Last edited by mabelsound : 11-22-2008 at 05:16.
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Old 11-22-2008   #2
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Looks good! Thx. for sharing your technique.
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Old 11-22-2008   #3
Al Kaplan
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Not my cup of tea! I filed out my negative carrier bunches of years ago so I could print the full oversized negative you get from using non-retrofocus ultra-wides like 19mm Canon or 21mm Super Angulon. They sneak the image beneath the ends of the aperture plate in the camera. You end up getting a negative about 24.5 X 37 or 38mm in size. When the black outline effect became popular I started leaving a bit of clear film showing when I adjusted the four blades of my Saunders easel, which allows for centering the image on the paper with wide white borders if you desire. It results in a nice neat clean black line.

What the wedding shooters call "sloppy borders"? YUCK!
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Last edited by Al Kaplan : 11-22-2008 at 04:59.
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Old 11-22-2008   #4
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Heh heh, like I care what the wedding shooters think. ;-)

Sometimes, I like a bit of artifact to remind you that you're looking at a photograph--that a picture is something somebody made. It's kind of a shame digital is so "transparent" in this respect. Anyway, to each his own.
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Old 11-22-2008   #5
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I like it, and for just the reason you cite.
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Old 11-22-2008   #6
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It's much easier doing a Photoshop mask, and you can make it look like anything you want. Better living through chemistry.
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Old 11-22-2008   #7
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sure PS is easier, but this way's manual ... like my camera.

very cool, thanks for sharing. wish i could do this with my coolscan ...
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Old 11-22-2008   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MCTuomey View Post
sure PS is easier, but this way's manual ... like my camera.
Also digital, not like your camera?

For a while I liked to print with this kind of "sloppy borders", but I kinda got bored to it. They looked different than this, though. Nice tip for darkroom printing. Better scanners wont eat those holders anyway.
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Old 11-22-2008   #9
FrankS
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The old fashioned way, like Al said:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg grown-over-bench (Medium) (Small).jpg (39.2 KB, 146 views)
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Old 11-22-2008   #10
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Mabledude gets full props for his enthusiasm and industriousness.

Last edited by Nh3 : 11-22-2008 at 08:11.
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Old 11-22-2008   #11
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When you look at a lot of the old school Magnum photographers (Cartier-Bresson and early Costa Manos), they left the edge in to signify that the images were not cropped.
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Old 11-22-2008   #12
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interesting technique.....

..... my wife uses "Kubota sloppy border actions"

....i file down my negative carriers, though i use my easel blades for a sharp black border.
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Old 11-22-2008   #13
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I do it from time to time and I think it looks cool. I was just noticing that James Nachtway does something similar.
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Old 11-22-2008   #14
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I don't really mean for it to look like "the real thing," whatever that might mean...just for it to look as though it went through a mechanical process. Which of course it did!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sirius View Post
When you look at a lot of the old school Magnum photographers (Cartier-Bresson and early Costa Manos), they left the edge in to signify that the images were not cropped.
If you like your picture uncropped and unstraightened, it's kinda cool to get to say "check it, I didn't have to do $%&* to get it this way." Of course, these days people would just assume you photoshopped it in anyhow...
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Old 11-22-2008   #15
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Many photographers have used a plate in darkroom, to cover the exposed area and then expose black frames around the picture. Some even did this to make it look like it is not framed in the darkroom.
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Old 11-22-2008   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Svitantti View Post
Many photographers have used a plate in darkroom, to cover the exposed area and then expose black frames around the picture. Some even did this to make it look like it is not framed in the darkroom.
Ha! Those cheaters would have loved Photoshop!
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Old 11-22-2008   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirius View Post
When you look at a lot of the old school Magnum photographers (Cartier-Bresson and early Costa Manos), they left the edge in to signify that the images were not cropped.
Mainly, I suspect, to stop ill-intentioned and visually illiterate art directors cropping them when they were published. I see so other reason for doing it.

Cheers,

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Old 11-22-2008   #18
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You might try some matte board as another version. I had a 6x9 Graflex film back that I altered to make a smaller frame using mat board. It gave a very nice edge.

Even having gone to art school I still use this for some images when in the darkroom. Certain pictures crave it.
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Old 11-22-2008   #19
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I've always wondered how this was done! This can be done on a darkroom enlarger in a similar manner, correct?

Thanks
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Old 11-22-2008   #20
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I think Photoshop borders are better than real.
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Old 11-22-2008   #21
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You cant very easily use Photoshop for a "real" black and white -print though.
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Old 11-23-2008   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mh2000 View Post
This doesn't make sense, of course this mask is *real*... just as real as a mask/filed carrier in an enlarger...
Exactly. That's the point! I can look at the result and see something I did with my own hands. I don't disagree that it's a kind of affectation, but not every affectation is created equal...part of why I love photography (and music recording, my other hobby) is that it's all about process. This is just a pleasurable addition to my process.

It's easy to forget, in this day and age, that our automated devices can be hacked--that you can get your dirty old flesh and blood self in there and do things a little differently. My mask is no big deal, it's just fun to insinuate oneself into a process meant to be computer-controlled.
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Old 11-23-2008   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wontonny View Post
I've always wondered how this was done! This can be done on a darkroom enlarger in a similar manner, correct?

Thanks
just file down your neg carrier until you can see a good amount of the clear frame around the neg. Easy.
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Old 11-23-2008   #24
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some subject fits sloppy borders. Some need proper sharp and straight borders.
It's a gimmick to decide beforehand and apply such a border thing for all one's photograph.
In my humble oppinion.
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Old 04-29-2009   #25
P. Lynn Miller
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Thanks for sharing this... not that I particularly like or want the same border, but just a reminder that all things can be hacked and modified to suit our personal needs and tastes.

Been annoyed with the stock V500 medium-format holders, so this is timely... I am off to find some bits and bobs to make some new holders.
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Old 04-29-2009   #26
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Mabelsound, I like the way it looks, and appreciate the thought behind your strategy. Sometimes willful anachronism can be radical.

But just wondering about a technical issue: is the height (width) of the bottom piece of cardboard exactly correct for the scanner to be in perfect focus? I seem to remember your pumpkins looking sharper before they had a border.
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