View Full Version : Best way to remove black spots and hair marks from prints

Yaakov Asher Sinclair
21-Mar-2001, 06:37
I can't get rid of all the black marks from my 4x5 negs. (dust, small hairs) What's the best way to go now? Retouch the neg? If so with which materials/t echnique? Or use spotoff on the print? How 'bout a scalpel? Many thanks in advance.

Trevor Crone
21-Mar-2001, 10:32
Yaakov, I find it easier to remove black marks from the print, I've never been any good at retouching the neg. "Scratching" the print is best done with something like a Swan Morton scalpel with a no.11 or 10A blade. Good luck,

Ed Buffaloe
21-Mar-2001, 10:41
If you have a black mark on your neg, it will print as white so you should just retouch the print, but if you have a clear place on the neg that prints as black you will need to retouch the neg. I have retouched large format negs before--it is tedious but not difficult. I spot negatives with Kodak Liquid Opaque (which I bought at a camera store but haven't seen in years) using a very fine brush (00 to 0000). Then, of course, I usually have to spot the print too (with Spotone Dyes). It is very easy to overdo it, so I suggest practicing on some old negatives. Use a light table. I also recommend a Peak head loupe magnifying device (or something similar, that gives a stereo view) for fine work. I don't recommend etching negatives or prints. In a few rare cases I have resorted to etching a print with an X-Acto knife to remove a small black area, but it is very difficult to accomplish in a satisfactory manner.

Robert A. Zeichner
21-Mar-2001, 20:21
Hi Yaakov. If the dust and hair you speak of was on the negative at time of exposure, you probably have clear spots on the negative and black ones on the print. I've never been a fan of scratching away or painting over imperfections on the print. The only spotting I do on the print is with Spotone dye, which works very well and has no visible effect on the paper's surface. Of course, you can't dye a dark spot and make it lighter! One alternative is to bleach the area with Farmer's reducer. Lutens on Photographic Enlarging and Print Quality is an excellent reference on reducing techniques. The bleaching must be done before any toning and it is probably a good idea to use a non-hardening fixer as well. Here are a couple of other alternatives. First, you could retouch the neg. Doing this can be tedious, but if done well, will result in an easily printed negative with little or no spotting needed on the prints. I've used a couple of techniques: 1. carefully scratching the area ON THE BASE SIDE of the film. I use an etchers scribe with an "Optivisor" so I can see better. 2. You can dye the area, again on the base, with dilute Spotone and a 000 or 0000 watercolor brush. I recommend a Winsor-Newton series 7, the best there is. Have a cloth close by so you can absorb some of the extra fluid and point the brush so you can apply the dye in a more controlled manner. If you over do the dye routine, the result will be a light colored defect in the print. This, of course can be easily spotted down to the desired tone. This is all going to take some practice, so be patient and experiment with some reject negs. Good luck and feel free to email me with questions and I'll do my best to help.

Andre Noble
21-Mar-2001, 22:51
There's no such thing as a perfect print. Andre

22-Mar-2001, 12:58
...but you can guarantee yourself prints that are perfectly free of specks, hairs, lint, dust, etc. if you use Readyloads or Quickloads...

.,.,., .,.,.

andrea milano
22-Mar-2001, 18:31
Here we go again!

Dear Yaakov, if you look for it I posted a similar question a few years ago, I got the same answers, mostly people who thought I was loading films in a wooly place, they all advised to improve the dust conditions and do not wear a wooly jumper while loading films.

It all came as a surprise to me because for years, before of this thing, I never seemed to have any troubles in loading films. However, blow compressed air (3bar shoulb be O.K.not more you' break the holder otherwise) in the film holders, use e de-ionizer(Simco is very good) to get any statics away, close the holders after loading in zip-lock bags(better not use any changing bags but load films at night in a bathroom after running the shower- on hot- for a few minutes.

The real trouble is that some emulsions are more prone to static charges than others , change the film if this keeps happening, some film holders are better than others, try keeping the inside of the camera clean. Lots of luck! Retouching(negative or positive) is an option only if the black monsters appear on relatively light areas, otherwise forget it ,you'll go nuts!

Steve Clark
22-Mar-2001, 20:45
Yaakof, one thing to keep in mind with spotting dyes is that thier color can change with time.

Jeff Buckels
27-Mar-2001, 16:12
Yaakov: I live in New Mexico, so the issue of dust is ever present. I have heard it said, however, that the greatest cause of dust is worrying.... Anyway, I make a fairly big deal of dust-prevention during loading. First, I open the film holders and blow away any apparent dust. I do this at the other end of the room from the work area where the loading will take place. Then I set up at the work area. I cover the work area with aluminum foil. Then I rub film holders, slides, and foil with Ilford anti-static cloth. I used to ground my right hand with one of those wrist-grounding doohinkies that computer workers wear, but I got lazy on that.... I've heard that practice mentioned in one of the other responses about loading in the bathroom after a hot shower is very good.... -jb