’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
A Lomo creature was stirring, burrowing through her junk like a little field mouse…
Hello my fellow analogue fiends! The air around us smells like a pine forest, and the streets are bedecked with hundreds of sparkling lights of red, white, and green. It’s the season to be jolly once again and while the dreary grayness of Old Man Winter has arrived with a vengeance, the cold is a pleasant break from all that warm weather we’ve been having. So what better time to stay home with a nice cup of hot cocoa and sweat away on a creative DIY photo project?
Now I know we’re all busy stressing over the crazy foot traffic in shops and what perfect gifts to give our loved ones this holiday season on top of everything else. So if you’re still with me, I am grateful. And in return for your patience, I present a nice little tipster to keep you and your little Christmas tree company during the cold winter months (except, of course, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere)…
It’s been a long time since I’ve used masks on my cameras – two years ago to be precise – and it seems to me that sadly, many in the community have all but forgotten about them. So I thought it might be high time to give those underrated homemade accessories their long-awaited comeback. And today, we will be making some book page masks!
Just like any project, you will need a few things before you begin. Don’t worry, most of the things you’ll need you’ll probably find around the house. You will need:
• An image of your favorite book quote or passage
• A computer with a word processing software like MS Word
• The location of the nearest Kinko’s or other print & copy shop
• A pair of scissors
• Double-sided tape
• Camera not loaded with film
• And of course, film
Do you have everything? Good. So now here’s what you need to do:
1. Measure the frame in the camera of your choice. Make sure to include the borders of the frame when measuring since your mask will need to be big enough to get anchored on those borders.
2. Get an image of the page that contains your favorite book passage or quote (or an image of any random page, if you are not particular). You can get by taking a photo of it from the book yourself or obtaining a digital copy of the page and converting it into an image.
3. Copy it into a word document using a word processing software like Microsoft Word. (I use a word document for its RULER function so I can easily measure the dimensions of image.) Adjust its dimensions according to the size of your camera’s frame. Also adjust the transparency of the image if it’s too dark. Remember that the overall transparency of your mask will somewhat affect the amount of light that will reach your film. The darker or less transparent your mask is, the less light will reach your film and you might to have to adjust your camera settings (aperture, shutter speed) accordingly.
Since you have an entire page of transparency paper to fill, you might want to add a few more images to the document like what I did above. This way, you wont waste all that space and you’ll have several masks to use! You will probably get away with around 8 square masks on one 8×11 transparency paper.
4. Take or email your finished document to your nearest friendly neighborhood print and copy shop like Kinko’s or Staples and have them print it on a transparency paper. If you have a printer that has the capability to print on transparency paper, then by all means print it yourself!
5. When you have the printed copy, cut the mask out with a pair of scissors. Now take that mask and turn it so that the words read normally (IT SHOULD READ FORWARDS NOT BACKWARDS) then turn it upside down like in the photo below. This step is very important. If you don’t put the mask right, it won’t register right in your shots.
6. Take your unloaded camera and open the back.
7. Take a piece of double-sided tape and stick it to the left side of your camera’s frame on the border. Secure the tape; make sure that it’s not sticking out. This will prevent it from attaching to the film when you’re winding or rewinding.
8. Now repeat step 7 but on the right border. This should secure your mask on the camera frame. If not, tape the mask to the top and bottom borders.
9. When you’re certain that the mask won’t fall off or get tangled with the film, properly load your film and close the camera back.
Now you’re all set and ready to take some fantastic photos!
So bundle up in some those fabulous but warm winter clothes, brave that brutally cold weather, and start shooting away like there’s no tomorrow!