Spotting 4x5 negatives : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

What is the best way to spot 4x5 negatives. I have a pinhole in my negative which was probably caused from the clothespin I used to hang the negatives. The surrounding area of the pinhole is dark. I tried using spotone but the ink doesn't seem to adhere to the negative.

-- Irwin Cua (, April 16, 2001


I believe the product you need is called Kodak Photo Opaque--it is a black substance considerably thicker than retouching dyes. You will need to apply it with a very fine brush (just like spotting a photograph)--I suggest something between 00 and 0000. Use a light table and a binocular magnifying device such as a Peak Loupe (like jewelers use). Practice on a throwaway negative.

-- Ed Buffaloe (, April 16, 2001.

I found a recent post on the alt-photo mailing list that says Kodak Photo Opaque is no longer manufactured. Anyone know a good substitute?

-- Ed Buffaloe (, April 16, 2001.

I saw a couple bottles of it behind the counter at Bel Air Camera in Westwood, California, that was about 10 days ago. You might try there if the logistics work for you. Their phone number is 310-208-5150.

-- Kevin Crisp (, April 16, 2001.

Art Supply stores usually carry a product called "Maskoid" or "Photo Maskoid." It's a fairly thick red substance that should adhere to the negative. Since it's red, it will be invisible to the paper and so would serve the same purpose as black material.

-- Brian Ellis (, April 17, 2001.

Irwin, neg. retouching is really something of a "lost art" nowadays. It's been at least 15 yrs. since I've done any, and I was never very good at it (it's a real craft in itself), but there are several techniques. Depending on the type of film you have, you might use dyes, or lead (with Kodak retouching Fluid to give the film "tooth"), or even some sort of stylus to abrade the base side. You would only use opaque to block out a large area, or in spotting litho film. I believe if you were really proficient in retouching, you would use lead on the emulsion side to correct for a pinhole, or abrade the base side. But the trick is in knowing when to stop. My teacher used to say that if you could see it (the dye) it was too late. It's better to do less. If it were me, I'd just live with the pinhole, maybe knife it off the finished print, or bleach it out, and spot it if I had to. Negs are really tricky...but if you're using spotone, you need to slightly dampen the neg. (base side) before you use the dye. If you can see the dye, you've put on too much. Alot of times, it's like spotting a print. You know, you hit it with the smallest amount of dye and it all blobs out at the edges---you've used too much. When you watch a retoucher, it looks like their hands aren't even moving, it's a real craft. I don't know if it's still in print, but the only good book still around is Kodak's "Photographic Retouching" (E-97) if you're interested. Good luck.

-- DK Thompson (, April 17, 2001.

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