Am I crazy trying to retouch with fusain and water?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by malinmalin, Jan 27, 2008.

  1. malinmalin

    malinmalin Member

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    Hello,

    I got that very nice 6x6 negative except for a rather unpleasant shadow (lighter
    area on the negative) that I'd like to 'remove'. I tried all night last night dodging
    while printing but with rather mitigated success so I decided to change strategy: darken
    the region on the negative but I have never ever done that before so after searching the
    Fine Archives on APUG for retouching I gather that I would need some retouching fluid
    and/or dyes none of which I have. Am I nuts to try to use fusain reduced in fine powder
    and along with a very fine brush (000) wet the point and dip in fusain to apply on the
    base side of the negative? The area is rather small, like a small ellipse 1mmx4mm.

    regards,
    jf
     
  2. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear jf,

    I would try making a mask first before attacking the negative. If you can't use a conventional unsharp mask, you may want to try hand making one out of some mylar. Some time in the last 5 years Photo Techniques had a series on making them. I'm sure if you contacted them they would sell you the appropriate back issues.

    Whatever you decide, good luck with your print.

    Neal Wydra
     
  3. malinmalin

    malinmalin Member

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    Neal,

    I haven't done any unsharp masking before, the technique is unknown to me.
    I don't want to 'attack' the negative, just to glaze it so to speak with some graphite.
    Worst come to worst I want to be able to wash it to remove the stain...

    thank you for your suggestion though,
    jf
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you want to use this sort of technique, try pencil. An HB lead is a good all around hardness for retouching. You can use a wooden pencil just to start experimenting, but traditionally, retouchers would use a lead holder, like a mechanical pencil but with leads the thickness of a normal pencil, sharpened to a long point with maybe an inch or inch and a half of lead protruding from the pencil. You can retouch on a light box, and if you find it to be a promising technique, you might look for an Adams Retouching Machine, which has a cradle for holding the negative over a light box, a magnifier, and a vibrating base for smooth pencil work.

    If the film has a retouching surface on the base, it's better usually to retouch on the base, because it doesn't require as much precision as retouching on the emulsion side. If it doesn't have a retouching surface on the base, you can still buy retouching fluid for the purpose or you can make it (search on "retouching fluid" and I think a few people have posted recipes).

    You can use a blending stump, just as you would in charcoal drawing, to smooth out pencil work on negs. A blending stump is a tight roll of soft paper, cut on an angle, for smoothing out pencil work (or pastels or charcoal in drawing).

    Of course, it is easier to work with larger negatives, but if 6x6 is what you have, there's no harm in trying. You can always clean off the pencil.
     
  5. malinmalin

    malinmalin Member

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    David,

    Thank you for the tips.
    I read about the Adams retouching machine while I was searching
    for info on this. I'll try do this on my light table with coton gloves
    with the negative tacked to it with tape.

    The film is HP5. I'm not planning to retouch the emulsion just the base.
    In your opinion, is it better to hardened the film before trying this?
    And once the retouching is done, do you wash the film again?
    I can feel and hear the little carbon particles scratching the film
    as I slide it back in its sleeve! :smile:

    kind regards, jf
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Hardening only affects the emulsion when wet. Its main purpose is to protect the emulsion in the wash, so it doesn't really matter if the emulsion is hardened for pencil retouching. Hardening does make it harder for the emulsion to absorb dyes, so for dye retouching on the emulsion side, an unhardened neg is better, but it's not impossible to work with a hardened neg.

    Once you've retouched it, if you're successful, then don't change a thing. You might want to print it again later, and you won't want to have to retouch it again. Virtually all professional portrait negatives (the ones that were going to be printed at least) were retouched this way at one time.
     
  7. malinmalin

    malinmalin Member

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    Thank you David!
    jf