that accompany the contact printer for specific operating
A useful feature on contact printers is an adjustable
masking device. This device is attached to the printer so
it fits snugly over the printing glass. The mask consists
of thin metal leaves used to "frame" the negative. These
blades make it possible for the prints to have white
borders or margins. To produce prints with white
borders when using printers that are not equipped with
a masking device, you can use hand-cut masks from
thin, black paper.
The basic steps necessary for you to produce a print
when using a contact printer are as follows:
Place the negative emulsion side up on the
printing glass.
Place the paper emulsion side down over the
Bring the platen or pressure cover down into the
printing position.
Turn the printing light(s) on for the required
exposure time.
Release the platen, and process the paper.
When you are viewing the negative under a white
light, it has a shiny side and a dull side. The shiny side
is the film base; the dull side is the emulsion side. A
similar examination of photographic paper under a
safelight shows that the paper has a shiny side and a dull
side. In this case, the shiny side is the emulsion side; the
dull side is the paper support. Photographic paper
normally has a slight curl toward the emulsion side,
although this is not true in all cases.
To make contact prints, you must place the dull side
of the negative in contact with the shiny side of the
paper; that is, they must be emulsion to emulsion. If the
negative base is in contact with the paper emulsion, the
photograph will be reversed. In some cases, such a
reversal in the print is not easily seen, but it becomes
strikingly clear when there are letters or numbers in the
Check the lamp to be sure it is operating properly.
Rinse the trays with fresh water, and prepare the
developing, stop bath, and fixing solutions. The trays
should be larger than the prints to be produced, and one
of the largest or deepest trays available should be used
for the fixing bath.
When the solutions are ready, rinse and dry your
hands. A supply of printing paper should be available
and conveniently located near the printer. Place an
empty paper box or paper safe near the printer if the
prints are not to be processed after each is exposed. Hold
the paper in the paper box or paper safe until the paper
is ready to be processed. If the paper is not stored in a
paper box or paper safe, it will eventually fog even under
safelight conditions.
Masking the Negative
When contact prints require white borders, some
type of mask is needed to prevent the printing light from
exposing the edges of the printing paper. When the
printer is not equipped with a masking device, make a
mask to fit the negative. (Usually proof prints do not
require masking.) The material used for masks should
be opaque and not much thicker than typing paper. When
the masking material is too thick it causes a distinct
blurring along the edges of the print image.
Some type of guideline or paper stop is useful when
placed at one end and one side of the mask opening. The
paper stop forms a square-corner guide for alignment of
the printing paper. The paper guide helps you to place
the paper evenly and parallel with the opening in the
mask, and it helps keep the borders even on the print
(fig. 11-4). The corner guide or stops can be quite thick
without causing poor contact between the negative and
the printing paper during exposure. Some printers are
equipped with metal strips, so you can mask the
negatives by setting the strips to frame the negative.

Basic Photography Course

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