A mask in film photography is simply the piece of plastic, cardboard, whatever… that defines how much of a piece of film will be exposed during each frame. In some 120 cameras, you have a 6x6 mask and a 6x4.5 mask. If you have a Diana mini, you may notice each frame is not the same size as normal 35mm, some are tall and skinny and some are square.
While there are standard sizes used in film photography, you can really use whatever size, or shape you want. All you have to do is create the frame and put it between your lens and your film.
I decided I wanted to shoot a roll of Holga film using a Heart shaped mask. It’s cutesy and a little silly, but you might like it. Here’s what I did:
I grabbed the 6x6 mask that came with my Holga. You don’t need to do this on an existing mask, it just made it easier.
Cut out a shape. It doesn’t have to be a heart, it could be anything actually. Cut it out of cardstock or a magazine cover. Something thick and dark enough that you can’t see light through it. Use electrical tape and attach it to the mask or the inside of the camera right next to where the film will be.
Put your shape upside-down! The images projected on your film are actually upside-down. Trust me on this, you’ll see why in a second.
Put the mask back in and load film, then shoot away.
Here’s the result from my first roll. I forgot to put my mask in upside-down. So the heart is straight, but the picture is upside down. Duh.
Or, the picture is straight, but the heart is upside-down. Double Duh.
There ya go, easy and fun. You can frame your pictures in just about any shape you can cut out.
Alternate ideas I’ve heard…. Making 2 masks that are opposite of each other (one blocks out the center, the second blocks out the sides – for example). Put in one, run the film through. Switch and run the film through again. Split frame photos…. strange! I’m going to try this one soon…