Custom 8x10 Film Scanning Mask

If you have ever tried to scan 8x10 film on a flatbed scanner, you know about Newton rings — strange artifacts consisting of multi colored blobs with concentric rings. These scan-ruining artifacts are caused when two glossy surfaces making direct contact. In this case, the scanner’s glass, and the glossy film.

I scan my film on an Epson V700, which came with film holders for 4x5, medium format, and 35mm film, but the only provision that was included for 8x10 film was a thin plastic area guide that shows you were to place the film on the glass. The area guide does nothing to eliminate the nasty Newton rings.

Many years ago I read that another photographer created a custom scanning mask for 8x10 film. The mask works by suspending the film over the top of the glass, but not letting it touch the glass.

I needed to find a material that was easy to cut, and wouldn’t harm the glass on my scanner. I did what any self-respecting photographer would do — I drove to my local Target store. I was confident that I could find something to repurpose for my needs.

While wandering the pet food aisle, I found a rubber pet food placemat. It was the perfect thickness, and would be easy to cut. I purchased the mat, then went home and cut it with an X-Acto knife.

scanningmask.jpg

Precision is key because the mat needs to allow a small area near the back of the scanner for calibration. If the film or anything else strays into this area, it will negatively affect your scan. You’ll know it when you see it. This explains the notch shown on the right side, which represents the very back of the scanner.

To attach your film, simply lay it over the opening, and tape the edges. 6 small pieces of tape will get the job done —2 on each of the smaller sides, and one each in the middle of each long side. Take care to pull the film somewhat taunt, but not so tight that the rubber material distorts and it changes the shape of the mat. It helps if you mount the film to the mask while it is situation on top of a light box. This will allow you to better see the edges.

I have been using this same mask for 5 years now, and it works like a champ. Included below is a template you can download that will help you create your own mask. You’ll find a zip file that expands into a photoshop document with guides set to show you the exact dimensions. You can print it on a large sheet of paper, and use it as a guide for cutting your own mat. I checked Target’s website and I don’t see the exact same mat that I used, but the current one may be very similar. Just look for a rubber mat that is about the thickness of an average coin. It’ll take you some time to cut out the mat, but once you have it, you’ll be set!

Download My Template

Coastal Redwoods: Episode 3

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Coastal Redwoods: Episode 1

Here is my first video journal from my spring trip to the Coastal Redwoods of Northern California. Thanks so much for watching and sharing!

Death Valley 2019 Day Six

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Zion Winter 2019 Day Five

Here is my day five video from my January 2019 visit to Zion National Park. I spent much of the day wandering through the washes, looking for interesting ice abstracts. Thanks as always for watching!

Zion Winter 2019 Day Four

Here is my Day 4 video from my winter 2019 visit to Zion. It was certainly a very interesting day, and I enjoyed spending time searching for some ice abstracts.

Zion Winter 2019 Day Three

On the third day of my trip, I decided to make the drive from Death Valley to Zion. The conditions were far more forgiving in Zion, and I looked forward to working with the snow and ice throughout the park.

Death Valley 2019 Day Two

It can be very difficult working in the wind with a large format camera, and I certainly had to deal with some pretty strong wind on the second day of my trip to Death Valley. Here’s my video journal from that day!

Death Valley 2019 Day One

Here is my Video Journal from the first day of my January 2019 visit to Death Valley National Park. Thanks so much for watching, and I look forward to sharing the rest of the trip over the next couple months or so.

Zion Fall 2018: Day 9 and Film Reveal

This is the final installment of my Video Journals from my fall trip to Zion. It was on this day that Alan Brock took Justin Lowery, Marty Quinn, and myself on a scenic flight from the St. George airport down to The Grand Canyon, then over Zion National Park. It was absolutely amazing to see these places from the air, and it gave me a whole new appreciation for the park. Thanks as always for watching, and I look forward to sharing my next trip!

Zion Fall 2018: Day Eight

On the morning of day eight, I once again returned to the higher elevation part of the park. The leaves were now beginning to thin, and the floor of the wash was starting to come alive with wonderful fallen leaves and mud textures. If this was my first day in the park, I’m sure I would have found some excellent compositions, but I was over one week into the trip now, and I was starting to get worn out. After a solid week of hiking, scrambling, and searching for subjects, I had a different plan for day eight, and I hope you enjoy the video.

Zion Fall 2018: Day Seven

I spend so much time each day constantly wandering around in search of subjects, and after a week or so, I am thoroughly worn out, and my legs are sore. I decided to take it easy on the morning of day seven, and had a quiet wander through some of my favorite washes. I ended up finding a pretty cool subject, and took one of my favorite photos on the trip. It pays to be aware of your surroundings, and to stay curious about the world around you. You’ll find some pretty cool subjects that way.

Zion Fall 2018: Day Six

I spent a lot of time scouting on my sixth day in Zion. There is something so rewarding about wandering the washes, and seeing what’s around each corner. Here is my video journal from that day.

Zion Fall 2018: Day Three

Here is my video journal from the third day of my fall 2018 trip to Zion. It was certainly a very busy day, and be sure to stick around for the end to hear an interesting story of how one mistake can offset another.

Zion Fall 2018: Day Two

Here is my video from Day 2 of my Fall 2018 visit to Zion National Park. I’ve always made a point of recording one video for each day of my photography trips. Sometimes those videos will show me taking a photo I am proud of, other times — not so much. I prefer this very honest approach to my videos because it tells a more accurate story of the trip. Though I didn’t get any photos I liked on day two, I was very excited to be in Zion, and looked forward to finding more subjects in the days to come.