View Full Version : Spoting black spots!..

12-Nov-2010, 15:56
Hi there,

I would like to know some information about spoting black spots on a lighter background like a sky.

In this case my black spot is on the negative itself. I use spotpens..but using lighter tones to mix with the sky, doesn´t seem to afect the black spot!

Any advice?


12-Nov-2010, 16:35
You are pretty much screwed.

If you have a big negative, maybe you can spot the negative. I've heard of people bleaching them out if they are in a light area, but that sounds pretty hard to come up with something that looks better than the black spot. Me, I don't try anymore. I try to keep dust off my negatives and if it's a shot with lots of sky I will take multiple shots. Then I realize if you stand back a reasonable distance the blacks spots aren't really that bad. Even the Ansel Adams prints I saw recently at the Amon Carter museum had some black spots in the sky.

brad martin
12-Nov-2010, 17:39
In Ansels book The Print it shows a method where a black spot is scraped off the surface of the print with an exacto knife. Then the resulting "white spot" is spotted like any other white spot in the sky.

Looks like it would take a lot of practice.

Never tried it myself.

Nathan Potter
12-Nov-2010, 17:50
Black spot on negative! OK; is the spot silver or foreign debris? If silver and surrounded by clear film with zero density you could risk a spot of reducer and rewash the film. If foreign debris, you could try a needle probe or hypodermic needle and excise it but that damaged spot will show in the final print.

The whole problem is solved using photoshop toolset, if you're set up to do that.

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

12-Nov-2010, 19:08
Jodie Forster was at our LF class this week and talked about the clear spots on negatives which resulted in black spots on the prints. He said he spots the negative but makes the clear area black then spots the print as usual.

Bill Burk
12-Nov-2010, 19:46
Hi Gundus,

You'll need to spot the negative in order to get rid of the black spot. Where you overdo it on the negative you can spot the print.

Do you use a condenser or diffusion enlarger?

If you use a condenser you can etch the back with a pinpoint tool. But with a diffusion light source this has no effect because diffusing light sources (which minimize dust and other artifacts) probably wrap around the etching and the light gets through.

13-Nov-2010, 02:36
Another way of solving this problem is to use photo opaque which can be obtained from many art supply shops. You spot the negative which will give you a white spot on the print and then retouch the print. It is, IMO, the easiest solution to this problem.

Jim Noel
13-Nov-2010, 15:11
I either spot the negative or use a #10 scalpel on the print. An Exacto is not sharp enough.

Jon Shiu
13-Nov-2010, 16:39
I've spotted the negative with a red extra-fine tip Sharpie. I've also used on the print a bleaching pen set called something like Spot Pen that has an A and B part, which bleaches out the print to white.


14-Nov-2010, 18:19
Thank you for the tips guys!

I made my option to bleach the spot, since it was the only thing on hand. Now the spot is white and i'm waiting the print to dry so i can spot and see the results!

Once again thanks..oh i've a diffuser enlarger Bill.

Louie Powell
15-Nov-2010, 05:03
A black spot on the print starts out as a clear spot on the negative. So what you want to do is add density to the negative in order to reduce the intensity of the black spot. The best approach (if you can pull it off) is to add just enough to the negative to bring the black down to a gray that is slightly lighter than the surrounding area on the print, and then spot the print with ordinary spotting dyes (spot tone, Marshalls or Spot Pens) to further reduce the local contrast.

If you are working with a larger negative, spotting (or dyeing) the negative is a practical solution. Apply the dye to the back of the negative - or better yet, tape a clear piece of plastic (an unexposed but fixed and washed negative is perfect) to the back of the negative, and then apply the dye to that. Start with a magenta-colored dye - Dr Martin's is very good for this application. You should see a reduction in the intensity of the black spot.

If a magenta dyes don't lighten the spot enough, you can try applying your spot pen to the spot on the negative. Spot pens will be more aggressive, and will probably leave a harder edge when you make the final print. That will make the process of doing the corrective spotting on the print more difficult.

15-Nov-2010, 13:44
One of the classic ways of eliminating air bells (clear spots on the negative from air bubbles stuck during development) was to delicately scratch the negative with a needle or retouching knife, and let light scattering turn the spot to a light enough shade that the print can then be spotted normally.

Fortunately, human eye response makes a low-contrast defect of a given size much less visible than the same defect with high contrast, so a perfect Photoshop-style correction is usually not necessary.

Robert Opheim
15-Nov-2010, 19:15
If you carfully scrape off the spot with a exacto or other blade on the print - if you don't go through the emulsion you probably can spot it. Otherwise, if you go through the emumsion of the print you can spot it with a pencil revolving the pencil carefully. I learned this from Bruce barnbaum in one of his week-long classes. I have tried spotting the negitive as well with spot toner and with red graphic arts opaque. Spoting the negitive works well but you still have to work on the print.

If you try to spot the scrapped area that goes through the emulsion with a wet spotting agent like spotone the spotting agent can go into the paper backing behind the emulsion and then you end up with a mess - the last time I ended up with a small "O" with the pigment around the scrapped area.

Best of luck - it take a lot of time to spot prints