View Full Version : How to center 4x5 negative on 8x10 paper for contact prints

arkady n.
8-Jun-2014, 13:14
Hello all,

I am planning to do paper negatives and contact printing project with kids this summer. I would like to know what is the right way to center a 4x5 negative on an 8x10 paper in the contact printing frame?

I have Photographers' Formulary 8x10" Contact Print Frame (if that matters).

Thank you in advance.

8-Jun-2014, 13:40
Do you want black borders or white?

8-Jun-2014, 14:21
Here's one option that I have used. Have an 8x10 mat board cut with a centered opening slightly smaller than 4x5. Place the mat board into the printing frame first. Place the glass on top of the mat board. Place the 4x5 negative emulsion side up onto the glass and align. A light-table may be helpful for aligning. Affix the negative (two corners min.) to the glass with tape which can be easily removed. (Painter tape, electrical tape, cellophane; etc). Place the 8x10 photographic paper emulsion side down into the frame. Insert the frame back into the frame.

8-Jun-2014, 14:50
make a mylar mask with a 4x5 hole in it on 8x10
put it outside the contact framethe negative in first
then the paper
close one part of the contact frame, and flip it
then center it the way you want it ...
if you want a white border ... cut a 4x5 hole in black 8x10 paper (thin paper)
and put it against your glass then the negative then the 8x10 paper ...

good luck with your project !


Maris Rusis
8-Jun-2014, 16:14
I use double sided tape to fix thin black paper to the inside surface of the glass of my contact frame. The paper has a 4x5 window cut in it to hold the negative and mask off everything else. The trick is to have the paper (+tape) thinner than the negative. That way the emulsion of the negative still feels the full force of the contact frame springs pressing it into contact with the emulsion of the photographic paper. I also use an 8x10 version to make contact exposures onto 11x14 paper.

Kimberly Anderson
8-Jun-2014, 16:41
Eyeball it. It'll be close enough. ;)

Kimberly Anderson
8-Jun-2014, 20:54
Not for those who regularly show images. The small variations will not look good next to each others in a gallery.

People who regularly show images usually put them in a mat or in a frame behind glass. I don't know anyone who displays images in a gallery that are loose prints or are unframed. Now...a portfolio of images that has slight variations...that's a horse of a different color. I am publishing my own and I relish the thought that there indeed are slight differences between prints. To each his own.

arkady n.
9-Jun-2014, 15:30
Thank you for the suggestions, everyone.

MIke Sherck
9-Jun-2014, 15:39
A piece of paper to use as a template, cut to the photo paper size, with a hole in the center. Cut the paper template in half down the center, so you have a template that covers half the printing paper and has half a negative-sized hole in the center. Put the photo paper emulsion-up on the printing frame's back, place the half-template on the paper and align it to the edge, put the negative in position in the center hole and hold it down while you take the paper template away. Put the top of the printing frame on (carefully!), squeeze the frame's back and front together with one hand while you fasten the back with the other, and print away!

If you want a black border use opaque paper for the template and don't cut it in half. Cut the center hole, where you will place your negative, slightly larger than the negative. Leave the paper template covering the photo paper except where there's a (more or less) negative sized hole in the middle, center the negative in it's hole and stick in the frame as before. (A sheet of clean glass is obviously easier to do this technique with than an honest-to-real printing frame.)

If you're careful you can hold the paper and negative together with one hand while you place it face-down into the printing frame and attach the back without moving the negative. But you have to be *careful*!