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I live in relatively humid western Washington, but I love to take black and white photographs in the dry country of eastern Washington and Oregon. Both of the trips I took east for photography this year ended with lots of dust spots on my negatives. I have read the posts on how to prevent this and am very careful to keep my film holders, changing bag, etc dust free. I don't have any problem here in western Wahington. My question doesn't concern how to prevent the dust. I would like to know if anyone has come up with anything better than lightly scraping your prints to eliminate the black spots caused by dust spots on your negative. Scraping is pretty tricky. I would appreciated any insight anyone may have in dealing with this problem. I am especially interested in any methods that would involve touching up the negative. Thanks

-- Paul Mongillo (pmongillo@thurston.com), August 22, 1999


I haven't tried it myself Paul, but you hit the nail on the head, using a soft but precise pencil to add density to the blank white spots on the negative caused by the dust that settles there - in eastern WA I'd guess static caused by pulling the darkslide. Hurell et. al. all used to retouch the negatives of their portrait clients to remove wrinkles, etc.

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), August 22, 1999.

A dust spot is more likely to end up as a white spot on the print. I feel more comfortable carefully spotting it out. A black spot is more likely to be from a pinhole on the negative. One of the suggestions I've heard is to spot the negative carefully. I prefer using a pencil to carefully add some density to the negative since Spotone is a dye and you cannot correct a mistake. You can use an eraser on a pencil mark. The downside is that you have to store your neg very carefully since the graphite from the pencil mark can easily be dislodged as you slide the neg into and out of jackets. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (ndhanu@umich.edu), August 22, 1999.

Just to clarify. I misunderstood the question to mean dust spots on the negative during processing. Dust spots on the negative during exposure does give you a pinhole. The previous suggestions of dealing with it should hold. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (ndhanu@umich.edu), August 22, 1999.

You can do a very good job of concealing dust spots encountered during exposure by srcatching the base side of the negative with an etchers scribe. These take the form of a mechanical pencil and I find them easy to handle under the high magnificaion needed to hit your target! I do feel it's easier to avoid dust than hide it later. I too, hate scratching the final print. What I find sometimes works for me is to run the shower in my motel room and create a humid emvironment. This also helps to wash down the dust. I always pick my film off the pile emulsion down. I rarely have to retouch a negative any longer.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (razeichner@ameritech.net), August 23, 1999.

Here is my methodology. I blow out my holders with compressed air. Not the wimpy canned air but an air hose at work. I keep it down to about 15-20 psi and don't get too close as I don't want to dislodge the light trap. I immediately put the holders as I clean them into a clean baggie. When I get home I load my film. After I have loaded my film I put it into a brand new ziplock bag. I get six into the gallon size. They don't come out of the bag until I have shot the film. Then they don't go back into the bag because that just drags dust into the bag. I put the exposed holders into another bag but it's not neccasary. What dust gets on then washes off during processing. I use a bag after exposure because I have the habit. If you must reload your holders at the end of the day then by all means put them back into a clean bag. Then use a bath room in a motel at night to reload. I have never, ever, ever seen a clean sheet of film after it has been loaded in a changing bag. I have stopped at motels in the middle of the day and showed them what I do and they have always abliged my need for the use of a bathroom to load film holders. Just look for a motel with an interior bathroom without a window. I've even loaded film holders in gas station bathrooms. It just takes more paper towels to stop the light from getting in although I did have an attendant one time unlock the door to see if I was ok because he hadn't seen me come out. Guy must have been from Oklahoma or something. Sorry Trib but what they say is true. Anyway try it. It works for me and those that travel with me. As for the negs? Just use spot-tone and a small brush. If the density is a little off you can spot the print. James

-- lumberjack (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), August 25, 1999.

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