the ethics of sloppy boarders in digital darkroom

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by morena, Jan 22, 2010.

  1. Hello all,
    I first discovered sloppy boarders by accident in college. I couldn't afford a negative carrier for my 120 film and made one out of cardboard, the rough edges created a look I loved and from that point one I gave it to all my prints. When I moved to a digital darkroom 8 years ago I was pleased to find tutorials that helped me mimic this effect and have been using different variations ever since.
    I always read posts related to this subject(mostly in this forum) looking for any tips or tricks I haven't used or discovered. Every post of this nature includes some degree of mocking or disapproval of this technique. There is some reference to it being untruthful or misleading as I suppose you can add it post crop which was easy to spot in a wet print. I mostly leave my photos uncropped so using a black edge with a sloppy boarder is very close to what I'd be showing even if I was printing in a traditional darkroom.
    I invite all dissenters and supporters to share with me their thoughts.
    Here's an example of what I use now
    happy shooting
  2. It's a question of style, not ethics. (Hmmm, need to make a post in the photo pet peeves thread about that.)
    I often have the sloppy border in scans of prints, but I've never added it in Photoshop.
  3. Why sloppy borders? Why not beautiful, gorgeous, gilty frames?
    Some are more gilty than others, of course.
  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Do what you want to do. The only issues with ethics in photography relate to presenting something and claiming it's something else, usually only a problem in photojournalism.
  5. I personally think that sometimes the borders one adds in PS to look like it is something else can be an issue. The issue isn't necessarily the look, but what do you tell people? I decorated my image? What you are doing isn't all that egregious, but I see people adding Polaroid 4x5 negative borders, complete with the metal tabs and internal (to the image) artifacts, simulated wet plate collodion negatives etc.. I am not saying it is wrong, but I wouldn't like the feeling of my pants down around my ankles when someone asked about the process--I guess!?!
  6. Brian,
    I don't see anything ethically wrong with what you are doing, unless when selling you claim them to be traditional prints. Your print, you get to choose what it looks like. I personally don't think you need it, your photos are strong enough to stand on their own but again your print, your choice. I doubt if it stop someone from buying a print as the borders are pretty small and easily covered by a mat.
  7. Sloppy boarders? That would be paying housemates who leave their dirty laundry on the floor and dishes on the kitchen table?
    Anyway…are you representing the pictures as art or journalism? Obviously, if the former, do whatever appeals to your sense of aesthetics. If the latter, be a traditional minimalist in terms of processing.
    I see sloppy borders as a photographic analog to the sound effect of a record needle dragged across the record as used when suddenly interrupting a soundtrack. Everybody knows the soundtrack isn’t really on an LP, but everybody also instantly recognizes what it represents. Plus, both are playful and, by now, somewhat cliché.
  8. IMHO "sloppy borders is a trite, over-used affectation, whether done in the darkroom or in Photoshop. The only time it's acceptable to me is with alternative process prints, where the "sloppy border" is to some extent an unavoidable result of hand-coating the paper.
  9. Old hat. Trite but perfectly acceptable.
  10. Brian,
    I think they are just as trite for alt processes.
    Don Bryant
  11. Thanks for looking,
    As mike quickly pointed out it does seem to be more a question of style or taste. It seems most here just don't like them but I was hoping to gain some insight as to what you find so displeasing. I agree with John that adding polaroid boarders to a print that didn't originally posses them is basically displaying an untruth. Jeff pointed this out very concisely. I'm not sure overuse really bothers me that much which seems like the biggest complaint from the last three posters. I always thought they were cool, contributing to my photos. Darin, thanks for the compliment. Do you think they take away from my photos? Do the rest of you think they take away from any picture the adorn?
    thanks again
  12. They do add a level of "tacky". Your linked image has more class without. It's not about the border but the image itself.
  13. I also believe that it is a matter of style not ethics. That said, I personally find some of the "borders" created with photoshop or other programs simply hideous and not integrated with the subject matter of many images. I do find scanned darkroom created borders to be pleasing at times, probably because I too at some point used the technique. However, if I use this technique, I would not do it for documentary or journalistic images because it would, in my mind, turn the image into a photo-illustration. Same for the use of "polaroid" type borders and layers. Fine black lines without sloppines - some might find this to be ok for documentary or journalistic work. The murky world of ethics often gets involved in the description of the resulting image rather than it creation. Do you describe your work as journalistic or documentary art. Once an image is described as "art" "artistic" "illustration" then I think there is no ethical quandry.

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