DUSTLESS LF NEGATIVES

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by climbabout, Jan 10, 2008.

  1. climbabout

    climbabout Member

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    What tricks do you guys and gals use to mininize or eliminate dust when loading your large format film holders? I occasionaly vacuum the holders and wipe them inside with tack cloths, but I invariably get dust in the most conspicuous areas - usually in a blank sky. Any other tricks out there I haven't heard of?
    Tim
     
  2. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    Wipe with an anti-static cloth, not a tack cloth. Also, make sure the room is as dust free as you can make it, high humidity, air filter, etc.
     
  3. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    I regularly brush out the holders with an anti-static brush and vacuum clean the inside of my bellows every now and then too.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I like the 4" Kinetronics brush and Dust-Off.
     
  5. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    After cleaning and loading the holders, they are stored in individual ziplock baggies. Don't forget to clean out the inside of your camera on a regular basis - If you are clean in your procedure, and still having problems, it can be a source of dust that is overlooked.
     
  6. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Kinetronics used to make an antistatic airgun called the Static Blaster which was used in industrial clean rooms. Some guy had about 50 of them for sale on eBay and I bought 2 of them for $30 US each, they were several hundred $$ new. It hooks up to my little compressor and does a magnificent job. I spray out the holders right before I load them and then put the loaded holders in antistatic bags which I also got cheap on eBay. The Blaster also makes framing a snap, I Windex the glass, blow off the glass with the Static Blaster and assemble. No dust!!
     
  7. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    I use Fuji Quickloads or Kodak Readyloads. Over 20 years now and thousands of sheets - no dust. It costs more, but I shoot a lot in deserts and it's worth it to me.
     
  8. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    But no Tri x or Tmax 400 :sad: ..EC
     
  9. bill spears

    bill spears Member

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    No Ilford either
     
  10. climbabout

    climbabout Member

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    Thanks for your input all - I'm shooting 8x10, so readyloads aren't an option. Just replaced the bellows on the camera, so that should help as well.
    Tim
     
  11. mark

    mark Member

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    These folks are not telling you about the anti dust ritual that includes offerings to the gods, and a silly dance around the darkroom sprinkling blessed developer on the offering.

    In all seriousness I think it depends where you live. I live in the desert, do everything that these folks have recommended and still get dust at times. I have fewer problems when I load in the bathroom after running the shower for a VERY short amount of time. Open the door until the mirror clears and then reseal to load. Anti static brushes only stop the problem for a very short amount of time around here.
     
  12. rootberry

    rootberry Member

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    I've had 3 antistatic brushes and they have died so quickly that I just use the brushes for "moving the dust around".. Everything has been covered here, keep your holders CLEAN, and don't give the dust enough time to settle before you slider the holder shut :smile:
     
  13. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Not much, take a brush out sometimes and after a light brushing tap the sides to dislodge any particles that might have gotten in. Using a cloth and rubbing it around is certain to cause stuff to stick. The best solution is to keep them in a clean place, bag or pouch etc., and clean them as little as possible. After all what are they going through to need a wash and dry?

    Curt
     
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  15. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    In Nov. 07 there was a question about sticky dark slides on the LF forum. I posted "J.B. Harlin, ULF camera builder, View Camera author and conference speaker, generally all around good guy, recommended Renaissance Paste wax. It was designed for maintenance of wood items in museums. It is clean, dust free and smooth. I know Light Impressions sells it, but it is also available elsewhere. I use it on 7x17 film holders, dark slides and several camera parts." Besides making everything work smoother it seems to make it difficult for dust to stick. On 7x17 you have the added benefit that it makes all that wood look better, but it really keeps the dust away from anything where I have used it.

    I dust everything in the darkroom with a moist rag and vacuum the floor with the vent fan going when ever it needs it. The air coming into the room goes through a furnace filter. I keep two 8x10 film holders in the black plastic bags that come with 16x20 Kentmere FB VC paper. Then I carry 8-10 holders in a cheap zippered bag from Wal-Mart, another 8-10 in a sealed back pack. I carry the 7x17 holders in MC Sports, padded, Velcro sealed, bags, that Quality Camera sells. 5-7 of these go in a back pack meant for scuba gear from Dick's Sporting Goods.

    Hope these ideas help.


    John Powers
     
  16. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    SSSSSHHHHHHH!!!!!
     
  17. mark

    mark Member

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    I didn't give it all away. Just enough to get him drooling. We'll charging him for the particulars.
     
  18. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    Let me add, dust showing up in the sky of a negative is posibly dust that is attracted to the film from inside the camera when you pull the dark slide. Keep the bellows clean (vacume regularly) and wipe down the holder with an antistatic cloth before inserting in the back of the camera. Wipe the darkslide before putting it back in the holder. Pull it out and reinsert slowly.
     
  19. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    I've heard of folks holding the loaded holder upside down with the slide pulled out and zapping it with air after loading it. Not doable in a changing tent though. Dust only shows up on your good negs that you didn't make a dupe of on location. I always make sure to remove as much dust as possible from the darkslide before inserting into the camera too. Wear a had when loading your holders if you're in the darkroom.
    vinny
     
  20. grnbrg

    grnbrg Member

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    Dust

    All of the above suggestions are excellent; I'll add one more. Buy a new small brush for your vacuum cleaner, and only use it only on your film holders.
     
  21. richard ide

    richard ide Member

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    Dust? Naah

    From the amount of spotting one has to do sometimes; surely some dust is on what we photograph and is really part of the image.:D:D
     
  22. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Just watched a great 80 minutes NASA / ESA divx video documentary about the Hubble space telescope and the birth of the universe and all on Stage6.

    http://www.stage6.com/user/Pushki77/video/2054583/Hubble---15-Years-of-Discovery

    Dust has been part of life and the universe for billions of years, and will be for the foreseeable future :D

    Just keep it out of your camera and holders with the "human" substitute of black holes: your vacuum cleaner :D. And I always tuck them away in plastic bags afterwards..
     
  23. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    I am into old topic revival today....

    After shooting 4x5 almost exclusively for about 2 months ( for my film work ), I am finding dust on the film during exposure to be by far the biggest deterrent to continuing in using the format. I just can not print these negs, not with what will be black hairs on the print. I live in a high elevation, super dry climate and this year being a severe drought year makes it especially bad. So I already take a lot of common sense precautions in using other formats and digital and do well at keeping my sanity.

    I am used to a very profitable hit rate in using both 35mm and 120, but 4x5 has been so horribe in terms of dust, I have yet to print a single negative after 2 months, terrible ROI...

    So I do a lot of what has been said here, clean the holders in between uses, store them full time in their own anti-static ziplock bags and even load them in my bathroom after adding some humidity via turning on the shower. All my holders are near new if not brand new in the case of my 3 Chamonix holders. The camera is always cleaned too, it is also brand new.

    Sometimes I get really clean negs, it surprises me. Other times I shoot a holder of 100 speed using a 10 stop ND filter making it to where the dark slide is out for up to 3 minutes...and get totally effed negs, beautifully shot, composed and souped...hairy negs...

    So before I punt this format as totally unusable, what other solutions are other people who LIVE in very arid climates like the West and South West employing to control dust to the point that they can make quality prints from their negs without hairs botching it all up?
     
  24. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    If you are getting hairs on your negatives, it must come from somewhere. Are they cat hairs, dog hairs or your hairs?

    In any case, if you have the right technique, there are only a couple of opportunities for anything to get onto the negative: when loading and when shooting, i.e., when the darkslide is pulled. So, those are the places where you need to look to refine your dust-control.

    If you load/unload in a changing bag, that is likely your problem. Ditch the changing bag and find somewhere with clean counter space to load.

    Make doubly sure that your loading area is really clean. Vacuum your bathroom, wipe down the walls, etc. with a damp cloth and run the shower to humidify the air. Wipe off your working area.

    It doesn't matter if your holders are new, vacuum them before loading anyway. I have an upholstery attachment (the rectangular brush attachment) that I've put a turn of masking tape around the brush that is dedicated to film-holder cleaning. First vacuum the outside of the holders, then pull the slides, vacuum the light traps and the inside. Insert the slide and push it past the light trap a time or two while vacuuming near it on the inside of the holder. When you're sure the holder is dust free. close the slide and stack it with other vacuumed holders. Keep them under a plastic bag so that airborne dust doesn't settle on them. Keep the vacuum out of the room if possible and make sure you use one with a Hepa filter.

    When loading, wear a long-sleeved non-linty shirt. I wear a shower cap as well (the kind hotels give out for free) to keep my hair off the film. If you have facial hair, wash your face and dry with a lint-free towel and keep your head away from directly over the loading area. Wash your hands too. When loading, I always keep the film stack emulsion-side down, only turning the sheet face-up to load it into the holder. I pull the darkslide about halfway out, grab a sheet of film, turn it and load it. I quickly check to make sure the film is under the guide rails and then push the darkslide shut. Total exposure to possible dust is just a few seconds.

    Loaded holders go into new Ziploc bags immediately after loading and do not come out till they are to be used.

    Extend the bellows of your camera all the way and blow a time or two with the back off and the lensboard removed to make sure it's clean. If you see just a few motes of dust flying around, then you are likely okay.

    When shooting, check the outside of the holders for dust, etc before inserting into the camera. Yes, I know it just came from a Ziploc bag, but... I carry a soft lipstick brush or make-up brush for brushing dust off the outside of the holders. Dust on the darkslide is what you need to get rid of. Try to let things settle down for a few seconds after inserting the holder before pulling the darkslide. Pull the darkslide slowly and carefully. Expose quickly and get the darkslide back in again. Dust that lands on the undeveloped negative after exposure is not an issue unless it stays there after processing.

    When processing, make sure your area is clean and that the negs emerge from the wash and final rinse without dust, hairs, etc. on them. If so, rinse under filtered running water, mix a new final rinse of distilled water and wetting agent and soak them again. They must be spotless before you hang them to dry.

    You need to dry your negs in a dust-free (hair-free) area. Clean your processing area as described above before processing. Keep doors closed and people and animals out of the drying area. If lots of stuff lands on the negs when drying, it is often next to impossible to clean them off.

    The same applies to enlarging/contact printing; you need cleanliness and you need to make sure there is no dust on your neg before printing it. I use strong reading glasses and light at a glare angle from a bare bulb or the enlarger to check for dust. I use a blower to remove dust; a clean micro-fiber cloth for stubborn cases.

    Do all that (it's not really that difficult) and you should reduce your problem immensely. But, with sheet film, you are bound to get the occasional black spot on the print. You need to learn how to etch, or bleach and spot these areas (or, alternately, how to retouch pinholes on the negative).

    Doing all of this is the tradeoff for the other increases in image quality achieved by using larger sheet film.

    BTW, I have a darkroom in the Oregon Outback / High Desert and work a lot in the Southwest deserts. My negatives are very dust-free.

    Good luck,

    Doremus


    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  25. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Subscriber

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    When traveling with his 8x10, Alec Soth will load his holders in a motel bathroom completely naked to eliminate dust in his holders, then put them in plastic ziplock bags.
     
  26. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    How does that help? Doesn't most dust originate from our own skin?