Because of the many ways you can control the final
appearance of the photograph, enlarging is a creative
procedure. You can use printing exposure to make your
prints lighter or darker, and the contrast can be altered
by your choice of printing filters. You, also, have other
creative controls available, such as cropping
(composition), dodging, printing, or burning in,
vignetting, diffusing, correcting image distortion, and so
You should devote as much attention and care to
printing as to making the original negative; otherwise,
you do an injustice to your skill and reputation as a
Focusing the negative image on the enlarging paper
can be difficult when the negatives are dense or have no
sharply defined lines that you can see in the projected
Focusing is easier and more consistent when you
use a magnifier or grain focuser. A grain focuser
magnifies the negative grain structure by 10X to 25X.
This magnification allows you to focus the actual grain
structure of the image. A grain focuser provides you with
the sharpest focus you can get from a given negative.
The projected image of the negative is reflected by
the mirror of the grain focuser to the eyepiece. The
distance from the mirror to the eyepiece is equal to the
distance from the mirror to the easel (fig. 11-11);
therefore, when you see a sharp image of the grain
structure in the magnifier, the image projected on the
easel is equally sharp. The area of the negative visible
in the magnifier is extremely small. You are not actually
looking at details of the image but at the grain structure
of the negative that actually produces the image.
To use the grain focuser, you should enlarge and
compose the picture normally on an easel. Place the
grain focuser on the easel with a sheet of focusing paper
in it, so a central portion of the projected image reflects
from the mirror into the eyepiece of the grain focuser.
Examine the grain structure through the eyepiece and
adjust the fine focus until the grain structure is in
absolutely sharp focus.
Printing only a part of the entire image recorded on
a negative is called "cropping." Cropping is the
procedure in printing used to improve the composition
of the photograph. Most photographs are intended to
present an idea or provide the viewer with some type of
information. The better the composition of the finished
picture, the better it communicates the intended
Photographic composition should be controlled or
established with the camera when the picture is taken;
however, the majority of photographs can be improved
during the printing process by cropping. You can use
cropping to eliminate distracting or unwanted scene
elements, to straighten a tilted horizon, to alter the center
of interest, or to strengthen leading lines.
Since personal opinions differ, there are no
hard-and-fast rules for cropping; however, the following
are rules of thumb that may help you produce pictures
that are pleasing to most people:
Crop out any elements at the edges of the picture
area that may draw attention from the intended center of
The center of interest should not normally be
located in the physical center of the print. The center of
interest should be somewhat to the left or right and a
little below or above the physical center of the picture.
The exact location for the center of interest depends on
the subject and the format of the print.
Horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines should
not divide the photograph into equal parts. The horizon
in a photograph should be absolutely horizontal. The
vertical lines of buildings, with one exception, should

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