To Mask or not to Mask

September 6, 2012

When I first started printing with alternative processes some ten years ago I would always show the edges/brush strokes on my prints. However the problem with showing brush strokes is that you cannot completely tell if you have fully cleared a print. The vast majority of platinum/palladium prints we create today at DC Editions the negatives are masked with rublith film to create clean edges in the final print unless the artist stipulates differently. All of the Irving Penns platinum/palladium prints that I have come across always have clean edges when you lift up the mount, you can even see the pencil marks on the printing paper where he marked out the edge bounderies of where he wanted to coat.

Quite often the brush strokes detract from the actual image and it is rare to come across an image that benefits from showing them. However I am always prepared to experiment if the right image comes along. That was the case with one of Stephan Milev images which we have been working on recently entitled  ‘Nika’, the scanned platinum/palladium print is shown below. We highlighted some of the platinum prints we created for him a few months ago on this blog.


Nika, Hamburg 2010, Stephan Milev, Platinum/Palladium


Stefan is an outstanding German photographer based in Paris, a master of the polaroid aesthetic,  he has recently been involved in the testing of the new 10x8inch instant film created by Impossible Project, the initial results are stunning. His work reminds me of Paolo Roversi in some respects and it has been a pleasure working with him. We will be highlighting more of his work that we have been working on later on in the year. To see more of his imagery visit  and also his blog at


Stefan MIlev at Work


To learn more about the Impossible 10×8 inch instant film testing he has been involved in you can visit the following websites :



– PDN –


6 Responses to “To Mask or not to Mask”

  1. Denny Says:

    Great minds think alike…I have very similar comments posted here:
    And I’ve been doing some further thinking about how and when printing with borders might be appropriate, I’ll be posting that update to my website in a few days.

  2. David Chow Says:

    Hi Denny

    Thats quite funny :). I liked your website nice and clean and easy to navigate. Also was interesting seeing your printing workflow. How long have you been using Rising Stonehenge for? Is it realiable and do you have a good stockist? Does it need any prep?

  3. Denny Says:

    Dave, I’ve been using Stonehenge for about two years. I find that occasional sheets have black spots, most don’t. (I’m convinced you can predict where they will show up by putting the blank sheet on a bright lightbox.) So it isn’t terribly reliable (few papers are) but I really like the look of the prints that I get from it. I’ve found it on sale at Daniel Smith Art Supply, very inexpensive, and have been able to purchase it in 100 sheet packs. It does require acidification, I use Oxalic Acid, details on my website. I’m also finding it suitable for gum over platinum, bonding it to aluminum to stabilize the paper.

  4. David Chow Says:

    Okay thanks for the info, have found a supplier in the U.K, will do some tests on it next week. Whats the finish like? HP or NOT. Pretty inexpensive for 100% Cotton.

  5. Denny Says:

    The finish is HP, pretty smooth. I generally use the white paper, but the warm white is also nice. I hope your testing goes well, let me know how it turns out. I’ve also been experimenting with Rives BFK for platinum, I can get very nice prints from it but it has a bit too much texture for me.

  6. Jon Says:

    I like to mask my prints. I’m wondering whether you’ve found that the thickness of the ruby lith creates a border of softness around the edge of the print?
    I did, and I switched to using the black plastic that envelopes silver gelatin paper as my mask material and Ben then I can detect a slight drop in sharpness.
    Bear in mind that I’m using a spring back frame until I build my vacuum frame.
    Interested to know your thoughts.


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