Should sprocket holes be visible on 35mm prints?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by BetterSense, Feb 12, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Theoretically, the area of film around the sprocket holes is completely unexposed, so it should be completely black on the print. When making contact prints, should I just adjust my time just until the sprocket holes become invisible? If the sprocket holes are still visible, is that bad?

    Is this a useful guide when doing enlargements as well? If I print a 135 frame onto 8x10, I have strips across the long dimension of the paper where I can see the sprocket holes. What can this tell me about my exposure onto the paper? Should the holes always be invisible?
     
  2. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    All a matter of opinion, but I like to see the sprocket holes. This makes for a brighter white in the frame numbers.

    Nothing is bad if it works for you.
     
  3. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    The hole edges will refract the light so you will still be able to see the outlines when printing to a good black level. If you expose until the holes disappear you may cause the shadows to lose detail.
     
  4. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Yes, it is a useful guide for determining how good your exposure and development ended up. It does not have to be adhered to in any way. I'll be damned if many of the great photos in history were not printed from less-than-technically-ideal negs. If you are not fairly close to your desired work print with the edges black like Gary described, it just means your exposure is less than ideal. If the contrast is way off across the board, it means you should tinker with your development a bit so you have easier-to-print negs next time.

    When doing contact sheets, I always do one that prints the edges to a black tone on a grade 3 paper (normal for me; most use grade 2 as normal, though) or a VC paper with a 2-1/2 filter, so I have a rough idea of my exposures and contrast when looking at the contact sheet. Then, if exposure and/or contrast are so far off that I don't have a great idea of what the compositions are, I will print another one trying to get the pix to look better.
     
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  5. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    What 2f/2F said. One can gain a wealth of information about your exposure and development by making a proper proof sheet that way. Myself, I target a N2. 2 graded paper with a diffusion light source. I need a bit more "gutsy" a neg for that, perhaps, than 2F/2f; but the principles are the same. Far too many people 'f.rt, trying to get a good print out of a rotten negative, believing they are being creative. The key is knowing how to get the best possible negative; then when the nasty real world intervenes (which is too often does), you know what you have to do to get your desired print. One of my early mentors told me "If you have to sh.t glass to get a good print, your exposure and development were wrong."
     
  6. pauliej

    pauliej Member

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    No, the sprocket holes should not normally be visible from a 35mm print. That said, some people like the look of prints with the holes visible, and many posters on Flickr.com website are obsessed with this imaging. Check a strip of 35mm negs for yourself. The 24x36mm image is between the sprockets and should not be touching them. Some put 35mm film in another camera (ie Holga's which take 120 medium format film) and get imaging around the sprockets, which leads to interesting prints. The attitude is, I paid for the holes so I want to see them. I think...

    paulie
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    The OP was not asking about the aesthetics of printing the sprocket holes, which is a subjective matter full of opinions; not factual statements of what should or should not be done. It was a simple technical (exposure) question. See the other active post to chime in on the aesthetic question.
     
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  8. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    At a time when there is some much obsession with photoshopped perfection (& manipulation), I think some photographers are becoming more inclined to show sprockets and raw edges as a sort of statement of (analogue) authenticity. I understand that intention.

    It's a personal choice, of course. It can look gimmicky. The few times I've done what paulie describes, it had an intended purpose of evoking a scene from an ongoing film. We see sprockets and think immediately of a movie (I think). I don't know whether that idea worked or didn't, but that was the thought behind it- there was a purpose for the sprockets, not just to prove that I used film and didn't crop.
     
  9. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I tell our students to expose their proof sheets so that the sprocket holes are barely visible -- just so that if there is any detail in their shadows, they'll be able to see it. If printed to a pure black, one does not know for sure. I prefer a proof sheet that is relatively low in contrast so that one sees as much information as possible -- and not as a representation of what a final print would look like.

    On a print this should not be necessary, as one would (should) have made that determination (shadow info). If one could see the sprocket holes, with the holes being a deeper black than the rebate of the film, then one would not have the deepest possible black in the print (barring any burning done) since one has not printed a pure black through the base+fog of the film. Print quality should (IMO) something that is decided by observation and conscience decision, not by an arbitary guide such as seeing the sprocket holes or not in the print.

    Vaughn
     
  10. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I have read the question, and I interpret it to be whether the print exposure should be such that the sprocket holes are visible in the print, NOT about the aesthetics of showing the sprocket holes.

    The sprocket holes are totally empty. Therefore, they truly are 'maximum black'. The 'rebate', however, is unexposed film, which means "film base plus fog".

    However, the image portion of the negative is on film. Therefore, to get a correct print exposure of the image, the rebate should be maximum black, and in that case, the only artifacts of the sprocket holes might be some scatter at the edges of the holes.