spotting negatives : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Some negs, no matter how careful I am about cleaning holders, wind up getting dust on them before their exposed (black spots in print). I have been using red ocher and the finest brush I can get to spot negs. But ocher spots are too big. Especially when printing 16x20. Does anyone know of a technique or tool that will make really small spots, just enough to cover area needed?

-- John Laragh (, December 10, 1999



I have had much success with Kodak's "Opaque Red" paint. I'm not sure if it's still available, as the small jar that I have must be 20 years old. It's basically an orangeish colored thick pigment that can be thinned down with water to the proper consistancy. If this stuff is no longer commercially available, you may want to try thinning down the red ocher a little. This might provide for better control of the pigment. (Just don't thin it down too much, as it may become translucent.) How small of a brush are you using? Make sure you have a 000 (triple zero) sable. If that doesn't work, try using a fine tip black "sharpie" marker.....this usually does the job just fine, and will provide enough density to prevent light from passing through the spot. Hope this helps!

-- Adam D. DeKraker (, December 10, 1999.

I've used toothpicks to good effect. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (, December 10, 1999.

One technique that works well for me is to "etch" out the spot or hair on the base side of the film. By taking a sharp, precision etching needle (they can be found in artists supply shops) and using it to gently scratch the base side of the negative, you will actually block light from passing through and thus, create an effect similar to retouching with opaque. It is advisable to practice this technique on some negs that you can afford to mess up. You will have to print them to see the effect. With prcatice, you may be able to conceal some pretty serious flaws in this manner. Good luck.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, December 10, 1999.

A 000 sable brush with either Spotone or Marshall retouching dyes. A lighted magnifying glass or a light box. Patience. That's all you need for even the smallest flaws. James

-- james (, December 11, 1999.

Thanks all for info. Will expirement with suggestions. Errata, I have been using red opaque, not red ocher as stated in question.

-- John Laragh (, December 11, 1999.

Use a QUICKLOAD holder instead of dark slides. Since changing to a Quickload I no longer have a problem with dust spots. You can test this by using a Polaroid 545 back but in my experience this is only O.K. at small apertures because the 545 doesn't hold the film flat enough. Hope this helps.

-- Garry Edwards (, December 13, 1999.

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