making 8x10 contact prints with a border : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I realize the relative paltriness of such questions at this hour, but:

Can someone please tell me the simplest way I can go about making 8x10 contact prints that will have about a one-quarter inch white border on all four sides--using a plate of glass to place on top of the negative and paper, and an enlarger as light source? The part I can't figure out is what to use to create the quarter-inch white border between the edge of the image and the edge of the paper, simply, quickly, accurately from one print to the next.

I have tried the Zone VI 8x10 contact print frame (ZN 7028) and there seems to be way too much play inside the frame to get accurate and easy borders from print to print. (In fact, I fail to see how evenly bordered prints can be made at all using this frame--at least quickly, easily, and consistently.)

I have tried using an 11x14 Saunders adjustable-blade enlarging easel and placing the 8x10 negative on top of an 8x10 sheet of printing paper and inserting both into the groove (where just printing paper normally is inserted for making enlargements) and then placing the 4 blades on top of the negative-paper sandwich and then placing a sheet of glass on top of the blades, but I don't think there is enough pressure coming down from the glass through the metal blades onto the negative and paper to create an optimally sharp print, as the blades are essentially preventing adequate impact from occuring between the layers.

-- nick rowan (, September 13, 2001



I used to use a sheet of glass with red rubylith tape on the bottom (against negative with the "window" about 1/32 less than 8x10. The thing is that on some negatives, the clear filmholder shape was irregular, unequal around the neg, or not 100% square with the neg, so it can be a bit tough to line up. In some cases, I taped the negative with more rubylith to make sure it was square. The advantage of rubylith is that you can see through and make sure the negative underneath is square. It effectively blocked the light on the Oriental paper I was suing at the time. I do not know if rubylith is opaque for VC paper, but I would think so. If not, you could use aluminium tape, but then you couldn't really see through. You should clearly test that to make sure your white border is truly white.

-- Michael Waldron (, September 13, 2001.

Nick: I second the use of rubylith. should be able to find it at art supply shops or print shops. Get enough to screw up a couple trying to get it all lined up. I haven't used the tape, instead I cut a window in a sheet and pulled off the middle section.


-- Doug Paramore (, September 13, 2001.

Nick -

You can make masks using silver-mylar tape and 3M black photographic tape on glass, and use the masks in a contact print frame to make contact prints in whatever "format" you want. I have a whole zoo of masks in different formats floating around my darkroom that I use in tinkering with various sizes of sheet film.

One special hint - it's much easier and more controllable to work with a print frame, glass and paper in the next larger format. That is, to contact print an 8x10 negative masked down to a 7.5x9.5 borderless image, I use a 7.5x9.5 mask on an 11x14 piece of glass, position the negative precisely against the mask by eye and secure it with drafting tape (easily removed after the exposure) in the far corners outside the image area, then expose using my 11x14 print frame...

-- Oren Grad (, September 13, 2001.

Michael, Doug, and Oren,

Thank you all for replying.

I have a few more questions, if you have the time or are able to answer:

1. Is amberlith ok to use instead of rubylith? The art supply store I went to only carries amberlith. (I could see through the amberlith, but maybe that's ok.)

2. Are both rubylith and amberlith LIGHTPROOF when placed on top of a) variable contrast paper (in my case, Agfa) and b) exposed to the light of an Aristo cold head (for a 5-15 sec exposure) c) or do I have to use a regular household lightbulb (with say a condenser enlarger)

3. The amberlith I looked at had one dark (orange) layer and one--what appeared to be--"clear" layer beneath. When cutting out the mask, should I cut all the way through both layers--or leave the "clear" layer uncut, to have the light shine through that layer? If I leave this "clear" layer uncut, will it diffuse the print in any way?

4. I know this sounds stupid, but should I place the mask of amberlith or rubylith ABOVE or BELOW the sheet of glass? I would assume it should be placed BELOW the glass. And if it is placed BELOW the glass, should it be placed between the glass and the negative or between the negative and the printing paper?

5. The amberlith I looked at was pretty thin and limp. What if I cut out a frame of amberlith and mount that on top of a frame cut from a piece of 8 x 10 photographic film, to provide a little more stiffness and rigidity? Or what if I cut a piece of rubylith tape and mount that to a frame cut from a piece of 8 x 10 photographic film?

-- nick rowan (, September 15, 2001.

michael, doug, and oren: forget my followup questions--i've figured this out

-- nick rowan (, September 16, 2001.

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