Black borders : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

I am trying to find out how to make black borders on my B&W prints. I have read about altering the negative carrier; however, this will not work if you crop the negative. Can anyone tell me how to get black borders (about 1" wide) on my prints? Thanks

-- Stanley Bittman (, January 29, 2001



I suppose the easiest and cheapest way is to mask the previously exposed printing paper area, immediately after you finish your regular printing process but before developing it, and then expose just the borders for enough time to achieve maximum black on your printing paper. I'm not sure what type of printing easel you use, but a little planning should allow you to do this without too much effort.

Just be sure the material you use to mask off the printed area is lightproof and the edges are crisp and flat; a piece of cardboard or matboard cut out to the same dimensions as your image area should be fine. You could use your enlarger as the border light source by simply removing the negative and raising the head so it covers the entire surface of the printing paper. You'll have to do a simple test to determine minimum exposure time for achieving maximum black with your printing paper.

Good luck, Sergio.

-- Sergio Ortega (, January 29, 2001.


Black borders came about as a statement saying "look at me-I can frame perfectly through the viewfinder, and don't have to crop!". For that reason there is no quick or easy way to put borders on a print when you're cropping.

Jon Osing

-- Jon Osing (, January 30, 2001.

black borders are also nice for contrast purposes, sometimes.

-- brad daly (, January 30, 2001.

Perhaps the best way to make a black border for your photograph is to have an enlarged negative carrier. You could file or if you use Beseler, you can find carrier just large enough for a border to appear. I find a black border (as one of the contributors said earlier) a way to show a properly framed photograph. I hate cropping, I do not crop my photograph unless otherwise.


-- Adrian Ng'asi (, February 16, 2001.

I've done this in a few ways in the past, making some pretty big borders, more than an inch. I don't think it has anything to do with a full frame effect, as much as it has to do with just another presentation effect. You can pretty much do it as Sergio is suggesting, or depending on film format, and enlarger size, you can use an oversized glass carrier. I've done this alot, and cut out masks from undev. sheet film to vary the size of the border. A four blade easel is a big help too. Speaking of easels, I also have an old Kostiner easel that was made for just this purpose. It has an accordion like masking section that you can vary to cover up your main image. It's really just a fancy way to do what Sergio has described. It's still kind of time consuming, though. Two light sources is a big help too. All I can say is that you just have to experiment and see what works best for you.

-- DK Thompson (, February 16, 2001.

I've been thinking of doing black borders myself recently. One option I have thought of is to take a large piece of card that is larger than any prints required and make sure it has a very good clean straight edge. After exposing the paper for the required print, mask off all of the print with the piece of card and only expose 1 edge at a time to the light. After each exposure uncover another edge until all 4 edges have been exposed. Develop the print and the black borders should be there. The only problem with this that I can see is that you might end up with non square borders or different sized borders. The answer to this is to make sure your borders are square at exposure time. If the borders are different sizes they could even be gillotined down to size afterwards. Probably only to take as little as 1mm off from a side.

-- Paul Lockwood (, November 13, 2001.

here's a thought... cut a piece of matte board or cardboard the same size as your print (assuming using an easel of some sort) and after exposing your print, place the cardboard on the paper inside the easel arms then raise/move the easel arms out of the way. Expose for maximum black. This should align the mask correctly over your printed area. You could even cut rough edges on your mask and get some weird edge effects that someone, somewhere, will say.. "gee, how'd 'ya do that!" :)

-- Nigel Smith (, November 13, 2001.

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