Matting photographs

Volume 11, Issue 3; 07 Jan 2008; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Pretty pictures on your screen (or your TV, projector, what-have-you) are all well and good, but sometimes its nice to have a real print on dead trees in a proper frame.

I see most of my pictures, most of the time, on my laptop. That's how I see most of your pictures too (for the collective “you” that are my friends and contacts on Flickr, my current photo sharing site of choice).

Nevertheless, I still like seeing photographs as prints, in proper frames, hung on the wall. And that way Deb gets to see them too.

To that end, I bought a decent photo printer a while back. But good prints are only part of the process (and not an easy part, but that's a topic for different essay). You also need to be able to mat them and put them in nice frames. If you haven't done it recently, let me assure you that professional framing does not come cheap.

For Christmas, I got a good quality mat cutter (a Logon 450).

The mat cutter is the tool that lets you cut perfectly rectangular mats with nicely bevelled edges. The framed print in the photograph above is my first attempt at “double matting”. Technically, it worked out just as I planned. As far as the plan goes, I don't think it turned out particularly well, aesthetically speaking. More practice will help, I think.

I'll need a good quality mitre box next. But until then, I should be able to make do with prefab frames.

That's the explanation, David. Oh, I suppose, the other explanation is that Project 365 carries its own set of challenges, and the image above satisfied them for 6 January 2008.


Ah! Sound of pennies dropping in Yorkshire! Thanks Norm.

A couple we've known since ... long time, run a framing shop in Cleethorpes and have a '45' card cutter as I call it (I'm sure it's not as fancy as yours) for that, and use it with great dexterity.

Please don't buy a mitre box. +- 5 degrees isn't good enough. Nobex to do it by hand, Makita to make it easy.

It's the lethal, mighty manual mitre cutter I found the most scary though! Madame Guillatine C21!

—Posted by Dave Pawson on 08 Jan 2008 @ 05:53 UTC #

Nothing terribly fancy about the cutter, just sturdy, well built kit. As far as the mitre box goes, I didn't really mean literally a box. I meant something competent to cut nice, accurate 45s (and other angles, naturally).

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 08 Jan 2008 @ 06:30 UTC #

Slightly related topic.

I have ~1600 slides, which I'd like to get into digital format. Have you gone through this process and have any suggestions?

—Posted by James Abley on 09 Jan 2008 @ 01:00 UTC #


I got a Nikon film scanner on eBay a while back and used it to scan a bunch of negatives. (A few are on Flickr.) I never shot slide film. The process works, but it's tedious. I think there are attachments that will let you load a stack of slides to be scanned automatically, but you still have to clean up, crop, and fiddle with all the scanned images.

I saw a low-cost bulk solution reviewed favorably in a photo magazine with the last month or two. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the service. That's another route to go, just pay someone else to do all the scanning.

Good luck!

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 10 Jan 2008 @ 10:41 UTC #

Thanks Norm.

I was leaning towards the DIY option after getting quotes in the £600+ ballpark. Guess I'll have to bite the bullet and brush up on GIMP skills too.


—Posted by James Abley on 11 Jan 2008 @ 01:36 UTC #