Spotting Prints

Discussion in 'Talk About Darkroom Work' started by Ian-Barber, May 8, 2018.

  1. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    Ok so Ive gone through a box of 7x5 RC paper and I have probably ended up with three fairly good contact prints from 4x5. The only area of disappointment from the so called keepers are the dust and the odd traces of hairs :( which leads me to this question.

    How often do you do spotting on your prints?
     
  2. David M

    David M Active Member Registered User

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    Always.
    ...but that was from projection prints. I still need to use the Healing Brush on scans.
    You must have very good eyesight to see dust on contact prints. When I was limited to contact printing after a house move, I didn't see any.
    What is your processing sequence for film? Do you use filtered water? I don't like squeegeeing negatives, but that might help. Using distilled or deionised water for the final rinse is sometimes suggested. Is the fix beginning to precipitate? Are the negs dried in undisturbed air? Are you inadvertently carrying dust on your clothes? A darkroom apron helps. Do you let the cat into the darkroom? Is there a ventilator blowing air inward? Or a fan-heater? Are you fanatical about blowing away or brushing dust at every stage? Do you polish the glass with a clean, dry well-washed or microfibre cloth? Have you blown dust out of the camera's bellows? Are you somehow generating static? Very dry air seems to increase static. A kettle boiled for a few minutes seems to remove dust from the air, but I may be deluding myself about this. The war against dust becomes second nature to the darkroom printer.
    The effect of point-source versus diffused light has been discussed here. I don't really know, but a very small light source may possibly exaggerate dust marks. Edward Weston was said to wrap his printing bulb in tissue paper. Naturally, I don't suggest you do anything so hazardous.
    My apologies for listing simplistic nostrums. I don't mean to insult anyone, but merely to give some ideas of the myriad ways that the Totally Evil Dust Fiend wages war on innocent photographers. The Dust Fiend is very cunning. She or he probably owns shares in Spotone.
     
  3. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    I have to hold my hand up and say that my small makeshift darkroom may no be the most dust free place. I have come to terms with removing dust from scans but the tools in Photoshop make it so easy. I was looking at a contact print I did last night of a flower and right in the middle of the petal is a hair and this got me wondering just how many other people encounter this or are they so meticulous when it comes to cleanliness in the darkroom.
     
  4. David M

    David M Active Member Registered User

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    May I ask if the dust specks are white or black? Black specks are usually from dust on the negative and white ones occur while printing. This may narrow down your search for an answer.
    In either case, I suspect it would help to wipe down most surfaces in your darkroom with a damp cloth. Dusting in the way it was done in the title sequence to Downton Abbey merely re-floats particles in the air. You may have to ask the butler to speak severely to the under-chambermaid. It's possible that a small air-filter might help. They're sold to help hay-fever sufferers.
    I don't think that anybody is ever entirely free from dust, but if anyone has discovered a method, we'd all like to hear it.
     
  5. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    Dust spots and other imperfections are inevitable IMO, especially when contact printing. As already mentioned, the tools in PS make cleanup an easy process when working on scans, but analog prints are more difficult. For years I used Spot Tone to remove white spots on B&W silver prints. Nowadays, I use Marshall's Retouching dyes. Black spots are the worse to deal with because you have to use a knife to lightly scrape away the emulsion, then retouch with whatever you use. I really, REALLY try to avoid black spots. Cleanup of white spots on pt/pd prints is, basically, the same as gelatin silver; black spots are easier to deal with here because sandpaper can be used.

    Personally, I don't think anyone can totally avoid dust, etc, on finished prints. Dust is everywhere and we don't work in "clean room" environments. ;) Heck, I've even had the coating on digital papers flake off which demands some spotting.
     

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