The hows and whys of black borders

Haweswater in the Lake District, England by Toby Deveson. January 2010. Part of the West of the Sun seriesOne of the most common questions I get asked is “How do you get the black border around your photographs?”

The answer itself is relatively simple, but the significance behind the borders and what they represent to me is less straight forward, harder to explain and slightly abstract.

When you place a negative in an enlarger it is held in place within a metal frame that clamps shut around it and keeps it flat. The frame on my enlarger (a Durst M 670 BW) is slightly larger than the image on the negative itself, so when you shine the light through it, it over exposes the paper around the image, leaving the black frame you see on my prints. The frame that came with my enlarger was slightly too big for my liking so I got some sticky paper labels and put them along two of the frames’ edges, reducing it in size. This then reduced the thickness of the border. If you look at the top left of all my prints you can see an unevenness and jagged quality to the border. This is caused by the top edge of the negative rubbing against the paper label when I slide it into the frame. A small, personal touch just like a fingerprint and unique to my enlarger and prints.

As for the significance of the borders, well, that is another story altogether. It has been twenty years since I last cropped an image. I enjoy the challenge of framing at the time of taking the photograph, be it by instinct, by eye or by calculation. It has almost become a point of principal and cropping an image would, to me, feel like cheating. The black border shows and proves (yes, I know, in this, the age of Photoshop it is easy to ‘cheat’ a border onto an image) that I have succeeded and that photograph is complete, entire and, in my view, pure.

Latest

Blog_Cover_Swarm_500x345

Swarm

It was as simple as ‘get to the top of Finland and turn left’.  At least that is

Blog_Odadahraun_Desert_Iceland_Aug_2015

Blink and you’ll miss it

Iceland. Never has the essence of a country so closely resembled the way in which I see the

F01-33D_blog_cover

Under the Stars in Madagascar

There are times when writing about memories from as far back as my eighteenth year feels wrong. How

Blog_Viewpoints_Cover

Viewpoints

The Rooftop Collective exhibition edition VI Tempus Fugit. So they say. Here we are again, another Rooftop Collective

Memories

Blog_Lac Sv. Ana.Romania.August 1992.

Wild swimming in Romania

Deep in the heart of the Carpathians, Kate and I parked our van. We were in a field

Blog_Odadahraun_Desert_Iceland_Aug_2015

Blink and you’ll miss it

Iceland. Never has the essence of a country so closely resembled the way in which I see the

Blog_F27-19A

Lewes bonfire night

There are times when you are just not in control of your body. And for me, Lewes bonfire

Blog_F06-06A

Failed trips or the art of flexibility

Failure can be a strong word. It’s no big deal, and not something I am particularly hung up

Randomly Selected

Blog_F28-13A

There were stars in the sea

There is something magical about being in the zone. When you have a camera in your hand and

BBC_Logo

Article on BBC website about Kodak moments

Once again Kodak was all over the news this morning. They have filed for bankruptcy protection. There is

Blog_LAPC_with-Fraser_Miles_June_2014

Q&A with the London Alternative Photography Collective

It was the icing on the cake really – a wonderful private view for my exhibition at the

Blog_F29-08A

The other side

We are in an age of living vicariously through others. We relish the final products of artists and