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Thread: bad scratch on negative

  1. #1

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    bad scratch on negative

    I have a bad scratch on a favourite negative. It is beyond the Edwal No Scratch solution, but it is in an area of sky which may help in repairing it (i.e., not a lot of detail). I print this negative quite a bit and would love it if I could reduce the amount of touch up I have to do on the print. I am interested only in darkroom and not digital solutions.

  2. #2

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    Re: bad scratch on negative

    If it's in the sky, and there isn't much detail, you can retouch the scratch so it comes out white on the print, and then spot the white area down to the sky's tonal range.

    Or make a master print that is perfect, and then make a 4x5 copy negative.

    Personally I'd scan it, retouch in Photoshop, and then see if you can get a new negative made from the digital file. But what do I know?

  3. #3
    4x5 - no beard Patrik Roseen's Avatar
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    Re: bad scratch on negative

    Now this is a long shot since I have never tried it myself, but...
    ...would it be possible to 'contact print' the negative on another film and just give it enough light and development for only the scratch to show up in a similar tone as the rest of the sky and then put this on top of the original negative while printing?
    If minor surroundings around the scratch would show up on the contact it would just lead to a minor contrast reduction in this particular area.

    I am assuming that the scratch is transparent in the original negative, hence would burn faster than any other part of the photograph...

  4. #4

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    Re: bad scratch on negative

    Is the scratch beyond the ability of spotting dyes to retouch? I've done that in the past with some success. (and some failure).
    Michael W. Graves
    Michael's Pub

    If it ain't broke....don't fix it!

  5. #5

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    Re: bad scratch on negative

    Michael, forgive my ignorance. Can you direct me to some reading on how to do this with a negative, what materials to use, and so on? I am familiar with spotting prints but negs are another story.

  6. #6

    Re: bad scratch on negative

    Don, I dont know what size is your negative but you might not need to make a mask as was suggested above. It is a good idea, but before you do that, why dont you try dye dodging. Buy a piece of clear acetate and sandwich it wiht your negative. On the acetate use markers of different colors until you find one that covers most of the scratch without leaving too much white in the print. This is how I dodge when I print in pt/pd since I dont like to stand under a UV light..... one cancer is enough for me...

  7. #7

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    Re: bad scratch on negative

    Not all negative materials are suitable for spotting. The ones with some "tooth" seem to work okay. I have always put on a pair of cotton gloves, taken a half a dozen tranks to get fffffiiiiinnnngggeeerrrss to stop shaking and then put the neg onto my light table. If the negative has a retouching surface, it's usually on the reverse of the emulsion. If it has a really shiny back, then there is no tooth and you can try to spot the emulsion side. Dapple the dye lightly into the area, just like you were spotting a print.
    Michael W. Graves
    Michael's Pub

    If it ain't broke....don't fix it!

  8. #8
    reellis67's Avatar
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    Re: bad scratch on negative

    I've got a copy of 'Negative Retouching and Print Finishing', a Little Technical Library book from the 50's if I'm not mistaken. Most of the online used booksellers have copies - I got mine for a buck - at any given time. It covers the traditional method of working with negatives, but as was previously stated, not all modern films have a retouching side. It's worth getting even if you go with another solution...

    - Randy

  9. #9

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    Re: bad scratch on negative

    First of all; DON’T TOUCH the negative until you have some sort of copy. I would have it drum scanned and/or have a copy negative made.

    I had the same problem a few years ago. I didn’t have a scratch but several dust spots on a 4x5 negative that required spotting every print. I had the negative drum scanned, then I repaired the spots with PS and had the resulting file made back into a 5x7 negative via an image setter. The result is a negative that I print just like the original but without the spots. It cost around $100.00 but I’ve sold over 300 prints of that image and I hate to think how many hours I would have spent spotting all of those prints.

    As far as touching up the negative is concerned, I wouldn’t recommend it. I purchased a tool specifically designed for negative retouching several years ago. It has a device for holding the negative above a light source and the holding device is then vibrated. There is a magnifier that can be positioned above the negative. Your comment about the scratch being in an area w/o much detail helping is wrong. Just the opposite is true. I’ve practiced with it quite a bit and while I can handle a small dust spot or two, there is no way I can deal with a spot or scratch in a smooth tone such as a sky. Also be aware that if you use spot tone on a negative you cannot wash it off no matter which side you put it on. So if you make a mistake, you are hosed. Negative retouching is a very difficult task and requires considerable skill. I am a pretty skilled craftsman and I have not come remotely close to mastering it.

    There is one down side to the image setter negative. It is a color negative rather than a B&W, so it’s grain structure is dye rather than silver. That is one reason I went to a 5x7 negative when the original neg was 4x5. It doesn’t really show up in prints up to and including 20x24 but in a 24x30 it is noticeable.

    Jerome

  10. #10

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    Re: bad scratch on negative

    Actually, contrary to common sense, I have found out that retouchinc the back of the negative with a very soft pencil is much easier.
    I use HP5.
    I also use Microns Pens, they have a 0.20 mm point and is good for areas that are lighter in the print.
    I have a hard time retouching paper base white spots in dark surroundings, but when the surrounding is light, and the sky usually is, it is not a big problem, especially when the enlargement is pronounced.
    The ink of this pen is archival

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