How To File Out Your Own Negative Holder

Eric’s Note: This feature is by Trevor Marczylo, a Winnipeg-based street photographer who has made the move to Korea! If anyone in Korea wants to meet up with him- drop him a line! Follow his blog as well.

Trevor: I ‘ve gotten a ton of emails over the last few weeks regards to how I get that black sloppy border around my images in the darkroom. I simply just took a file and hacked into it until I was happy.

So for this week’s article I thought I’d write a quick and simple discription on how to file out your negative holder so you can have your own signature negative border style.

There really isn’t anything to it and all you need is a small flat file and your negative holder, some black paint or nail polish and the will to destroy your neg holder.

First, take your neg holder out from the enlarger or wherever you keep it.

Second, take you file and start to lightly file the inside area. Start off slow to get a feel for file and how much material you are taking off. Keep in mind, how much material you take off from your neg holder will determine the final look of you border. The more you take off the thicker the border, the less you take off the thiner.

While you are filing, try to be a bit creative maybe take a bit more off the sides or less off the bottom or use a more agressive file and hack some lines into an area. Try filing not just up and down but kinda in and around.

Whatever you do, trust me it won’t be wrong. You are making your own one off signature border.

I suggest maybe do a little at a time and go back to your enlarger put the neg holder back in with a negative and shut the lights in the room and turn on the enlarger.

That way you can see what your border is starting to look like. If you feel you would like to file more off then simply go back and repeat.

When you are finished and happy with the final outlook of your neg holder, put some flat black paint or black nailpolish around the area that has been exposed from filing,  Just to be sure not to get any unwanted light reflections on your paper when you are actually in the darkoom printing.

Enjoy and Happy Printing.


See more of Trevor’s work here.

If you have any more questions about filing out your own negative holder, leave a comment below!