DISGUST WITH DUST NEEDS TO BE DISCUSSED (not merely cussed)

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by David Lyga, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Long ago, I learned how to blow... But before disclosing the fine art of this procedure, first...

    I am fanatical, even maniacal, about dust. If I visit someone, I first seem to observe, by default, any thin layer of dust upon flat surfaces. I say nothing but it does mean something to me, at least subliminally. Almost daily I am on my hands and knees with a bucket of slightly soapy, warm water and a large rag scrubbing my linoleum floor in my tiny efficiency. (I hate rugs, which seem to be, oftentimes, too unclean for me.)

    But with smaller stuff, like negatives in negative carriers, the assault must become more vital and compelling, because that image is going to be enlarged. If you feel that I am becoming too obsessed about this I invite you to do the following (and this is ESPECIALLY for the pros out there): If your camera has no film in it, open the back and remark to yourself how clean it seems. Now, under a strong light, with a magnifying glass, take a closer look. Chances are, it is truly dirty with dust. Moral: when you enlarge, you have an obligation to downsize your mentality and 'become', temporarily. as large as an insect so that you can see, first hand, how dirty life is at that subordinated level. Then, how do you truly get rid of dust?

    Again, the art of blowing correctly has been learned by me, long ago. Merely blowing dust becomes an exercise in frustration because of two factors: 1) saliva going along with the air and 2) anchored dust particles remaining stubbornly intact because of static electricity. I do the following: first, dry your inner lips with a clean tissue so that NO saliva can exit your mouth. Then, do the following SIMULTANEOUSLY, blow (about 6 inches away from what you are blowing) while using a camel's hair brush to quickly dislodge what stubbornly wants to remain behind. The combination of both the wind and the dislodging, AT THE SAME TIME, prevents any dust from remaining behind. Finally, quickly, before any airborne dust gets a chance to settle anew, remove the clean item from open air exposure. This means putting the negative (which was already in its carrier) quickly into the enlarger after removing dust from BOTH sides in this way, or quickly closing the 'camera back' after cleaning its film chamber, or thoroughly cleaning reusable 35mm cassettes, inside and out, including the felt trap, before putting them into film cannisters for clean safekeeping. - David Lyga
     
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  2. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I use a vacuum and a 1300 CFM air cleaner. You may argue that the smallest particles will come through the filter of the vacuum, but at least they are 6 feet away :smile:
     
  3. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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  4. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Yes, a tiny vacuum would be ideal but not all of us have that. Also, a slightly damp cloth works wonders but, of course, not on film. All should occasionally wipe their negative carrier and the back of their cameras in this way, as the dampness attracts the dust. - David Lyga
     
  5. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Exhausting the air from a vacuum cleaner outside the work space is one way to reduce the disgust with dust. It can also be cheaper than a psycotherapist. :smile:
     
  6. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Sheesh, and I thought I was OCD! I keep a small air purifier with HEPA filter running in my DR. I damp wipe everything about once a month anymore. I vacuum the floor at least a couple times a week though, I hate debris tracking in. I also keep my enlarger covered when not in use. My negatives get a light dusting prior to use, dust is pretty well under control in my cave.
     
  7. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Just keep an air cleaner running in your place. I have one in my darkroom running constantly. A diffusion enlarger instead of a condenser enlarger is apparently helpful too.
     
  8. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    I use some canned air and I view the carrier and negatives with the light at an angle (that way they "light up" and are easy to spot), works very well.
    I do use a damp microfibre cloth on the enlarger, carrier and easel now and then though, to get rid of any stuck particles, then I blow before inserting the negatives.

    I haven't cleaned my film backs yet though, thinking that any grit large enough to cause scratches must be visible and any dust particles will be washed away during development anyway. (but I probably should :smile: ).
     
  9. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    You would be VERY uncomfortable in my home, unfortunately.

    I blow dust off of my equyipment and onto the floor an dsurrounding surfaces using a sqeeze bulb. My favorite is an infant nasal aspirator bought for cheap at the corner drugstore. Ususally that is sufficient and a brush is not required. Instead of a brush I've been known to use a hankie on occasion... but that's not recommended.
     
  10. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    What I do and don't:

    - I don't clean my darkroom very much.
    - I don't clean my film backs/camera bodies very often.
    - I don't use an air cleaner in my darkroom.
    - I NEVER vacuum clean since it stirs up more dust than it catches.
    - I use compressed air to clean the film and the neg carrier before it goes in the enlarger.
    - I store my negatives in archival and air tight (dust free) clam-shell binders (this helps a lot).

    It is very very rare that I actually need to spot more than two to three spots in a print. I believe this is because I don't stir up any dust and because of how I store my negatives, for the most part.

    The antistatic devices Max is referring to seem great too, but so far I haven't needed any of it.
     
  11. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    Just some thoughts...fold lock negative sleeves are superior. If you use print file archival negative page perservers when pulling out the negative a small static charge is created. The static charge attracts dust.

    Some enlargers and neg holders are better than others. One of the best is a Leica 1c or Valoy. Very easy to see and remove dust. Once dust is removed, the condenser protectes the top of the negative from dust migration. LPL 7700 enlargers with glassless carriers are decent at viewing and blocking dust once the carrier is inserted. Not so for a Omega B-22. It's gaps and bellows allow dust collection.

    My home DR is the laundary room. Before printing I wipe down surfaces with a wet rag. During heating months I use several methods to ensure the house has adequate humidity. Humidity reduces airborne dust and static.

    Using the right equipment along with simple housekeeping I have avoided dust problems despite printing in a room with a laundary dryer.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 23, 2012
  12. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I cut my teeth on large Cibachromes which can't be retouched, and sometimes work in print processes that
    requires multiple separation negs and masks,up to a dozen per print, so being careless with dust is not an option.
    In fact, dust control is about half the work in the darkroom. I have a special room dedicated to fussy film use.
    Prior to something critical it is all swabbed and mopped down. There is an industrial electronic air cleaner in there, triple-filtered air lines, and if needed an antistatic gun. Also have a machinist's inspection light to spot
    tiny bit of dust on a neg or carrier. I wear a pure dacron clean room smock which leaves no lint. Even the sponges are specially chosen. Worth the extra effort. The room is due for another cleaning soon because some
    black and white FB printing has been done in there recently, and FB does produce stray fibers. My biggest problem is with the floor - it's an old slab prone to efluoresence when the water table rises and can't be fully
    sealed. Vacuuming that would be voodoo. Just have to keep mopping it with a bit of vinegar or stop bath in
    the water.
     
  13. JMcLaug351

    JMcLaug351 Member

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    Jim Jones,
    I hope the therapist is ALREADY in the budget. Ya think?
     
  14. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Just peruse any catalog or website of a cleanroom supplier which caters to tech industries and you can get all kinds of relevant ideas. For that dream darkroom which you'll never actually build, you can
    even get special static-dissapative Formica for your countertops. But at a more affordable level,
    sponges and chamois wipes which don't degrade, and things like woven dacron outer clothing can
    make a significant difference.
     
  15. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    I have made over 100 prints in the past two weeks and this is exactly what I am finding too.

    I also notice dust more on the 35mm than 120 due to the greater degree of enlargement needed to attain the print.

     
  16. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    My experience is similar. My basement darkroom is certainly subject to dust, and it doesn't get cleaned very much. I keep my negatives in sleeves, blow off any incident dust with canned air (actually Freon), and print. I have less problems with spotting the darkroom prints than I have with scanning negatives in a much cleaner but busier area.
     
  17. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    My darkroom is in the basement. I hardly ever clean anything, like Thomas indicates. I keep negs in Printfile pages, but in books. I am very attentive to using Dust Off on each neg, both sides, after placement in the carrier, just before insertion into the enlarger. The humidity in the basement is 45% - 55%, sometimes a bit lower in the winter.
    If I make 10 - 12 16x16 prints from 120 negs (usually 2 of each), when I go to spot, after toning, etc. I may have an average of 2 spots per print.
    What I think helps for me: Very little cotton in the darkroom (just what I am wearing and a towel), an Aristo cold light head (I used to use a condenser, and noticed the drop in dust immediately when going to the Aristo (1982), and there is no traffic in the darkroom unless I'm working. I also have a drying cabinet I built attached to the wall, right next to the sink, and negs are hung there right after Photo Flo.