View Full Version : thousands of white specs

Jay Staton
19-Sep-2005, 14:15
I have only been developing my own B&W for about a year now. I am using a rotary drum. I am getting properly exposed/developed negs. I scan them to work on them in photoshop. When I zoom in to work on the file, there are thousands of small white specs all over the negative.

I can't believe there is that much dust in the "cleaned" film holders. Could it be how I am washing negs?

Please help!!

The spotted one-Jay

Joseph O'Neil
19-Sep-2005, 14:35
Might be your fixer. I had a same/similar problem. Took some advice (off this list I think) and started straining my liquid fixer (usually Hypam or Ilford Rapid Fix) through a paper coffee strainer before mixing with water, and my white specs went away.

Check your scanner too. Had a similar problem once there too. Dust on the scanner itself was the culprit.

Take a look at the pattern of white specs on your scans. If the pattern is similar or the same from one scan to another, it's maybe something with the scanner, but if the pattern is different on each scan, might be your fix.

I use rotary drum too.

good luck

Brian Sims
19-Sep-2005, 15:57
"When I zoom in to work on the file, there are thousands of small white specs all over the negative."

Jay, You're working on this in Photoshop....are these white specks in the positive image on screen? Or white specks on the negative that show up as black specks on screen?

There are many possible reasons for black specks in the positive image...And Joseph provides some good prospects. There isn't much in loading, exposing and developing film that will cause white specks in the positive image (other than flash photographs in the rain). However, depending on your scanner and scanner software and how much you are zooming in to take care of these specks, the problem might be artifacts in the digital image that do not exist on the negative. Can you actually see these speck on the neg itself?

Bruce Watson
19-Sep-2005, 16:07
Think about it a bit. If you have dust on the film during exposure, it blocks the light and you get a clear spot on the film. When you scan that and invert, your clear spot becomes a black spot.

The alternative case is having dust on the film during scanning. This would blocks the light transmission just like a really dense part of the negative. That is, to the scanner it looks black. When inverted this becomes a white spot.

White spots in scans then must come from something on the film *after* exposure. Either something is depositing on the film during processing, or dust is settling on the film while it dries, or you are introducing dust onto the scanning path during scanning.

Brian Sims
19-Sep-2005, 16:34
Bruce is obviously correct about dust during scanning negatives producing white specks. However, if you are encountering thousands of these specks due to dust you might want to move your digital darkroom out of the wood shop... : ) You still might want o rule out the possibility that you are touching up digital artifacts.

ronald moravec
19-Sep-2005, 18:07
Mine was was from silver precipitated in the fix. Coffee filter is not fine enough. Cotton wool layered in the bottom of you filter funnel does a better job. Filter just before use, not after.
I filter fix for 4x5 deep tanks because of the volumn. For an Expert drum or 35, I use once and throw away. Problem gone.

Water and air filters in the darkroom will go a long way to get clean negs as will glass bottles you can see are clean. Plastic just doesn`t seem to clean up as well.

I think I gave up retouching after all the above. Life is great again.

Brian Ellis
19-Sep-2005, 18:08
When I view a print on screen in Photoshop at the print size or smaller I seldom see any white spots. When I view at actual pixels I don't see anything like thousands of white spots but I see more than I would expect plus I also usually see a couple squiggly lines that look like someone dropped an inch or so length of thread on the negative.

My understanding is that some of this is inherent in the scanning process though I don't recall the technical explanation. But it helps a lot to keep the glass on your scanner meticulously clean (I clean it before each scan with a lens cleaner and a piece of soft, well-washed old T shirt) and also to thoroughly clean the negative right before you put it in the scanner (I use compressed air plus an anti-static brush to clean the negative, shades of the old darkroom days).

The spot healing brush in CS2 is a big time saver for fixing this kind of thing though if you have thousands to fix you probably should try to find the cause of the problem because that seems very unusual.

Ed Richards
20-Sep-2005, 07:01
Step one: Get a magnifier and look at the negative on light table or some reasonable substitute - against a white sheet of paper against a window. Make sure the specks are really there on the negative. If you are going to scan negatives, it is really useful to have a small light box and a 20x magnifier - whenever you see weird stuff or blurry detail in a scan, the first step is to see what the negative looks like.

Amund BLix Aaeng
20-Sep-2005, 12:42
" thousands of small white specs all over the negative."

You`re not looking at grain , are you?