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Printing film rebate.

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by John Worsnop, Oct 6, 2017.

  1. John Worsnop

    John Worsnop In the Stop Bath

    Today I went to an art exhibition which included a couple of photographs and about thirty, mostly oil, paintings.
    One of the photographs was in a frame about 24 inches square with a photograph about fifteen inches square. The photograph, which was a picture of an indoor mundane domestic mid twentieth century wash day, included a ragged film rebate ( I assumed the lettering HP5 in the ragged black surround was the film rebate but that maybe questionable given that my films have a much less ragged appearance ) Anyhow the rebate took attention away from the picture and, to me, seemed a needless affectation. Can anyone tell me why a picture is presented that way ? To show that nothing has been cropped from the picture as taken ? To look rough and ready ? It tells us it is documentary, although the picture content should do that ?
    Enlightenment please.
  2. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    For technical photography it was common to write important details on the rebate and print them with the image. This worked well with large format film and plates but less so with roll film. For criminological work it was sometimes considered part of the chain of evidence. Apart from that it's an affectation that appears from time to time perhaps triggered by the advertising of film manufacturers. The earliest shots I've seen like that date back to the middle of the 19th century and it reappears every few years or so. The debate about it also pops up occassionally as in http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/archive/index.php/t-68798.html
    RogerMac likes this.
  3. SXH

    SXH Well-Known Member

    Maybe they should make it an option on digital cameras...

    Mind you, there's probably a frame option in Photoshop or whatever... :rolleyes:;)
    Done_rundleCams likes this.
  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    If there are white areas at the edges of the image, it stops them "leaking out" into the border. Pin lines do the same.

    A filed-out negative carrier ensures you get the whole negative in, instead of losing anything up to 1mm on a side -- maybe more if you shot the picture with an extreme wide-angle.

    You can always crop out some or all of the rebate when framing, so it gives you more choice than swallowing the crop imposed upon you by the neg carrier.

    For some kinds of reportage (and indeed fine art) it's shorthand for "I have not buggered about too much with this image" (insofar as that means anything).

    It's an aesthetic choice for each picture. Anyone who tries to make hard and fast rules for when it should or shouldn't be done is semaphoring a certain ignorance of the nature of art. Or for that matter fashion. Go to http://www.rogerandfrances.com/subscription/photo school index.html (the index page for my old web site) and you'll find about a dozen pictures on the right hand side. One shows the edges left from a filed-out negative carrier. Another is torn paper on a black background. The rest use conventional "hard" edges. Obviously I think that they all work, or I'd not have used them that way. If someone else doesn't like it: well, some do, some don't, and for understandable reasons I'll go for the approach I prefer (as any artist always will).


  5. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    If it is ragged then it is deliberately so. There doesn't need to be a reason other than they liked it. Bit like cutting out prints with pinking shears which I haven't seen for a while.
  6. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Pete,

    I have a couple of deckle-edge guillotines that I habitually use to trim postcard-size prints, for a vintage look.


  7. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the correct terminology Roger. It is ages since I saw a print so cut.
  8. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Pete,

    They're very hard to find and quite expensive unless you're lucky (I got lucky twice). The original idea in the late 19th century was to replicate the effect of paper hand-torn from big, upper-class sheets as distinct from nasty, modern, lower-class machine-cut paper. At least, from what I can see of old books and magazines, that's the way the debate read at the time.


  9. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    There's a small one BIN on eBay at the moment.
  10. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Rog,

    Thanks. I decided to take a look. On one that's already sold (auction over) for £9.99 the "similar items" include a nose hair trimmer.

    Anyone for deckle edged nose hair?


  11. John Worsnop

    John Worsnop In the Stop Bath

    Thanks everyone for replies.
    I can see why MF and LF contact prints show the rebate. I can see it copying the appearance of handmade paper for some reason and to confirm that nowt has been taken out of the original shot - except in the case of Soviet era group photos. If it is simply an artistic device then fair do.
  12. IvorCamera

    IvorCamera Well-Known Member

    I still have my deckle edge guillotine it made a ordinary set of 10x8...... 8x6 look great in a album... I did a couple exhibition prints once with a film like border It was HP3 then yes it was a long time ago the borders were heavily criticized so that was the end of that idea.... But the proper answer for the film border left on was for ID purposes..
  13. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    The original deckle edge was not cut or torn.
    When hand made paper is made it is scooped up on to a frame with woven or a laid wire grill to contain the paper pulp
    This is let drain for a few moments before being turned out for pressing.

    The edge is always both rough and tapered and was known as the deckle.
    Few papers were used or sold with deckles on all four edges. As only the full size sheet had the four original edges.

    If there was to be a water mark this was usually found on laid paper, as the image wires were easily soldered to the main laid wires.
    The process is rather different to day, but the principal is the same. A wire dandy roller holding the watermark master is rolled into the new wet pulp in the early stage of the continuous paper making machine. The resulting image becomes permanently incorporated into the sheet itself.

    Of course the edge of machine made paper still forms a natural deckel edge. And is either trimmed off during the making process , or by the paper converters during sheeting.

    I once bought a tonne of side run paper, complete with deckle, as I needed a very narrow format. They sheeted it for me to the right length . But left the full width for me to guillotine myself to size. Such side runs are always very cheap as normally they go for repulping.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
    Andrew Flannigan likes this.
  14. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Terry,

    You are of course absolutely right about paper making, but I suspect that photographic paper is a special case to which my explanation is applicable. In the 19th century, photographic paper was often sold in rolls, in tins (!) and had to be cut or torn to size. Normally this would mean that one or at most two sides of a print would have the deckle. To avoid "wasting" that edge, it was apparently normal to tear the paper on the other two or three edges to give a rough edge.

    Note "often" and "apparently". This is what I have gleaned from old books. I could be wrong, and frankly I can't be arsed to verify my half-remembered sources. But it's not something I made up from the whole cloth (or sheet of photo paper).


    IvorCamera likes this.
  15. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    Many years ago I was asked to produce a poster for a local band to use. As part of the poster I had the rebate of a roll of 120 HP5 printed diagonally across the poster with colour images of the band in action inserted into the frames. It looked quite good in the end, but nobody...nobody...ever pointed out that HP5 was black and white film and that they were colour pictures!

    Cheers, Jeff
  16. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    To technical for artists....

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