Selection - Trimming - Mounting - Mounts

Much ultimate success of the photograph depends upon careful and judicious trimming.

The operation in its simplest form consists of merely cutting away the white edges surrounding the print, produced by the rebate of the printing-frame shielding the paper during printing.


Much more, however, lies behind the trimming of a print than appears at the first glance; in many instances the making or marring of a good pictorial photograph depends upon this operation. If the cutting away of half the print will benefit the picture, do it. A good axiom is "Little, but good." Many of the most beautiful photographs to be seen on the walls of the leading exhibitions are obtained by first enlarging a photograph of small size and then drastically trimming down. Here - as suggested under "Treatment of the Subject" - comes the final effort in making a photographic picture. To help in the selection of the portion of the print to be retained, two pieces of brown paper are cut in the shape of the letter L and laid on the print as shown in Fig. 46. These form a frame, and should be moved about in all directions, until that portion is found which pleases the most. The print is then marked by pin-pricks at each corner of the opening showing the view; it is then ready for trimming.


A piece of plate-glass or zinc about 12 or 18 inches square, a cutting-knife and cutting-shape are required for the operation of trimming. An old negative from which the film has been washed off often suffices for a cutting-shape or guide for the knife. A shoemaker's knife is useful; it must have a keen edge and sharp point.

The print is laid face upwards upon the glass or zinc, and the cutting-shape upon it in such a manner that the top and one side may be conveniently cut away. The print is then turned round, the shape replaced, and the bottom and other side removed. Care must be taken to see that the top and bottom are quite parallel, and that the sides are too. Often the back edges of the guide help in this direction. It should be noticed if these are parallel with the already trimmed sides.

Trimming /FirstStepsInPhotography 50

Fig. 46.

The portion to be removed must be cut away with one clean sweep of the knife, which should be pressed lightly against the cutting-shape, upon which slight pressure is exerted to prevent movement. In this way all ragged edges will be avoided.


The print is laid face downwards on a piece of clean paper. It should be kept down by pressure of the fingers of the left hand, so placed that the margins shall not turn in. The mountant is first applied to the margins, so that they will become soft and lie flat, and is afterwards well brushed in all over.

This method of handling will be found convenient on sizes up to a quarter-plate. When mounting prints of larger sizes than this, say up to 10 by 8, the following method is very useful: - Two pieces of glass, which, when placed side by side on the back of the print, will leave an inch margin all round, are used. This margin is first well coated with mountant, then one piece of glass is removed and the place where it has been lying coated, and finally the other glass is taken away, and the paste brushed all over. In this way the tendency for the paper to turn in and smear the face of the print is obviated.

When the mountant has been applied, the print is carefully laid on the mount and pressed into contact. This is best done by laying a piece of waxed paper, as found round P.O.P., upon the surface of the print, and commencing at the centre with a circular motion, carefully rub down towards the margins. See that the edges of the print are in close contact with the mount, otherwise they will stick up when dry, and look unsightly.

Before attempting to mount very large prints they should be soaked in water, then laid face downwards on wet glass to receive the mountant; afterwards place on the mount and press into contact with a wetted roller squeegee, or cover with a piece of fluffless blottingpaper and rub gently. There are several ready-made mountants on the market; these more or less have starch as a basis.

It is an easy matter to make mountant by putting a teaspoonful or so (one part of starch in ten parts of water is a good working strength) of starch into a cup, making it into a stiff paste with a small quantity of cold water, then gradually adding boiling water until it turns into a nearly clear jelly. When cool it is ready for use. Starch paste is not suitable for mounting P.O.P. prints which have been highly glazed on plate-glass, as the surface would be affected. These are best mounted in this way: while the print is still upon the glass, a piece of backing paper, one-eighth of an inch smaller each way, is attached by means of thin gelatine mountant (one part of thin gelatine dissolved by heat in ten parts of water). When the print leaves the glass it is trimmed, and fixed to the mount by the gelatine mountant applied to the margins to the extent of half an inch all round.


Ordinary cardboard must not be used, as it may contain substances which may affect the print after it is mounted. Proper photographic mounts must always be obtained. Dealers generally hold a large assortment in various colours, shapes, and sizes to select from. They may be either "Paste-on" or "Slip-in." In the former the print is attached by mountant; in the latter it is merely slipped in. Again, the mount may be the same size as the print; that is, it will only show just a bare margin, or it may have a border. Mounts of this description are made to standard sizes, and are arranged for the various sizes of plates and films.