How does one spot RC paper? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am having a terrible time spotting my RC prints. I am using a 4x5 camera and the quality is quite good. However, my spotting ink just seems to sit on the surface of the print. I tried "Spottone" as well as spotting pins from Photo Impressions. Same problem. The spotting ink stands out like a sore thumb. Help! I have some beautiful prints that I am ruining because I can't get the spotting figured out.

-- Jerry K. Cunningham (, October 03, 2001


Use distilled water when mixing the spotone. You have to get the colour just right or it will be noticeable. You may have to mix different colours of spotone. What type of RC paper are you using, and what kind of paper surface is it? Glossy prints are not easy to retouch.

Try a laquer spray over the retouched work if you are using a glossy surface.

If all else fails, use fibre-based paper. It retouches well. The trouble with retouching RC prints is that the retouching inks remain on the surface. Build up your retouched area with several applications. In some areas, like clear skies, it is hard to keep a retouched area from showing. You might also try dusting off the negative and reprinting. It may take less time than trying to retouch a badly spotted print.

-- George Huczek (, October 03, 2001.

In addition to what George said, make sure the tone of your spotting fluid is a close match to your print color. If you've got cool tone prints and a slightly warm spotting fluid, the difference in color will make it stand out a lot more. I guess most people use Spotone #3, but for my prints I've found that Spotone #2 better matches my print tones.

-- David Munson (, October 03, 2001.

You've got to match the color as the others have said. Let it dry to be sure it matches.

Moisten the surface of the paper so that it will take the dye, and so the dye won't run over the surface of the paper.

Dilute the dye and stipple it in with a very fine brush (I use 0, 00, and 000) slowly. When you've matched it, STOP. One drop too much, and you'll need to do it over.

-- David Goldfarb (, October 03, 2001.

"By da strange stains that appear on it? Hah! - Dat is if it's at least a couple years ol'. Right?" :>)

-- Andre Noble (, October 03, 2001.

I'm a bit suprised that some one using a 4x5 camera for B&W is not using FB paper. Here is a tip, if you over do spotting, use a small brush with plain water and you can work the spotone out to get a better match. Also you can rewash the print and the spotone will wash out, so you can start all over. Better to spot a print before mounting. Spotting just takes practice.

-- Gene Crumpler (, October 04, 2001.

It is also important to have a white tissue in one hand to blot your brush before applying the Spotone. You should be applying the Spotone to the print nearly dry with a very fine pointed sable brush - if there is too much moisture, you're right, it just beads up. The pearl surface RC paper takes spotting fairly well if you use the blotter.

-- Sandy Sorlien (, October 04, 2001.

Jerry, I use a set of "Spotpens" from Tetenal. They work well on Ilford Multigrade RC Pearl, in that they don't leave much (if any) trace of the fluid. They are very finely pointed and work best by applying them in a stippling manner and by building up a tone match using a lighter colour. Gloss paper is difficult to spot whatever the support. As for the posting suggesting that 5x4 users should be using fibre paper...why? When my prints are behind glass I challenge anyone to pick out the fibre or RC print, I know I can't!! Modern Rc is quick to use, dries quickly and FLAT, is easy to mount and the matt surfaces give a quality that is easily a match for fibre. As for the question of longevity and permanence. Granted, the experts reckon fibre prints will last a lifetime and longer AS LONG AS THEY ARE PROCESSED CORRECTLY. RC hasn't been around long enough for any credible testing but IMHO as long as it is processed correctly, washed and toned in either selenium or gold, I reckon it will outlast me!

-- paul owen (, October 04, 2001.

Paul, your contributions will be missed, since you don't expect to live long.

For results of "credible testing" of RC paper, see Ctein's "Post Exposure."

-- Sal Santamaura (, October 04, 2001.

"Everybody's got to get into the act" - Jimmy Durante Here's my 2 cents. Use a 000 sable brush and cut off, at the base, half of the hairs around the outside edge. This will leave you an extremely fine point. As stated above (and I agree wil most of what was suggested) stipple, not paint, in tiny random pin point dots the area. Start much fainter than you want and build up as necessary. If you can see the imperfection at 4-5 feet viewing distance, add more. If you can't see the spot at that distance, don't worry. As we used to say in the military, "Don't sweat the small stuff". (Explitive altered).

-- Steve Feldman (, October 04, 2001.


One small thing that can make a huge differenc here is to make sure you do not use a hardening fixer.

-- Ken Burns (, October 04, 2001.

Sal, Maybe I got a little carried away! It's just that there seems to be a lot of snobbery surrounding Fibre paper...if you use RC then you cannot be treated as a "proper" photographer! This attitude gets my back up. So what if fibre papers will last for eternity....not much use if the image is poor in the first place. Using fibre paper doesn't "make" you a LF photographer. I use both, despite having initial drying problems (that were sorted following advice on this forum). There is something "tactile" about fibre, but I still find I get similar visual quality from RC paper. Each type has its uses and as yet I've never had a customer ask what type of paper the image is printed on, they buy them 'cos they like them!! But modern RC is here to stay and will continue to improve. There I feel better now!!! Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, October 04, 2001.

Jerry, As people have mentioned, the key is to: 1. Use a small quality brush 2. Make sure you build up the color. Place a spot of diluted spot tone into the the area(being careful not to let it bleed outside of this area) and let it dry. When its dry and more is needed, place another spot onto the area again. For dark areas you will have to apply the spot tone several times. After a few trials, you should get it. Something that helps me is to do a test before each application on a practice print to see how dark the spot tone will dry.

-- Dave Anton (, October 05, 2001.

"How does one spot RC paper?" - Easy. It says 'RC' on the box.
OK joke over.
My favoured technique for spotting is to use the finest point technical drawing pen (e.g. 0.1mm Rotring) filled with Indian Ink. Using such a pen you can stipple extremely tiny dots onto the paper, emulating the grain texture. There's no meesing about with brushes and different shades of ink, and with a bit of practise, the end result becomes pretty much invisible, even in a strong sidelight.

-- Pete Andrews (, October 05, 2001.

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