How offensive are spots on prints?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by Poco, Oct 25, 2005.

Do spots ruin prints?

  1. A slight blemish/spot is acceptable

    13 vote(s)
    18.3%
  2. ...is acceptable for private viewing, but not exhibition

    25 vote(s)
    35.2%
  3. ...ruins the print for any purpose

    33 vote(s)
    46.5%
  1. Poco

    Poco Member

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    Getting a clean, dust free negative for printing is a PIA, but doable. But what about the black spots from dust on the negative in the shooting stage? Assuming correction on the print is impractical, would a single black speck in a broad expanse of sky (for example) ruin a print for you? I've seen exhibition prints with tiny flaws and was surprised how little it bothered me, but what's your opinion?
     
  2. KenM

    KenM Member

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    Unfortunately, when I see a spot on a print, I *always* see the spot. My eye is drawn towards it, forever more. I'd rather that wasn't the case, since I wouldn't have to do any etching :D
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It depends how offensive a spot it is! Yeah, if it's a big black spot in the middle of an empty sky, I'd do what I could to correct it--etch the print or opaque the neg and spot the print.
     
  4. Poco

    Poco Member

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    "when I see a spot on a print, I *always* see the spot."

    Yeah, I know. It's insidious. The damned thing grows to fill the field of view.

    Still, I'm trying to figure out the logic. Does a single clinker spoil a pianist's performance, or a smudge ruin a drawing? Heck, Pollack used to put out his cigarettes on his canvases. Yet the perception is that nothing but total transparency of process (perfection) is acceptable in photography. Why? It makes no friggin' sense to me. I see it as another symptom of photography's inferiority complex relative to the other arts that no trace of the creator or his struggle with the process is acceptable.
     
  5. Carol

    Carol Member

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    Spots of any kind on a print are totally unacceptable to me. I have an image of an old building and the light shines through a broken brick and LOOKS like a dust spot and it ruins the print for me. Of course I could be a teensy bit obsessive. :tongue:
     
  6. Poco

    Poco Member

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    Careful, Carol ...you're one step away from rejecting prints because there COULD have been dust spots :tongue:
     
  7. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    white spots to me are intolerable (crap on the neg when enlarging).

    Black or grey spots can be dismissed depending upon location and type of image (crap on the neg when exposing).
    • Black curlys in the sky--no thank you.
    • Black dots in the pavement or trees--no problem.
    • Black dots or curlys anywhere on a slick studio shot -- no way
    • The same found in a still life like this or an image where content trumps craft or cleanliness-- no issues.
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I thought I had a nasty black spot in the sky on one of my prints. Took the negative out, cleaned it, cleaned the carrer, put the negative back in, made another print - damn spot was still there. Looked at it through the grain focusser: It's a seagull....
     
  9. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    I feel spots are unacceptable for exhibition only. But that includes either hanging in my house or giving to friends who might also exhibit them in some way. Given the ease of getting rid of the spots with Spotone or some other way there is no excuse.
     
  10. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    Spots are bad, but I am willing to break out the spot pens for most purposes rather than obsess over every little speck of dust. If it is very obvious, then sure, I will do the cleaning ritual again, and again if needed, but something small that can be spotted out is not that big a deal to me. Then again, I don't show or sell my prints, so I suppose that gives me a little breathing room.

    - Randy
     
  11. Carol

    Carol Member

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    Lol Poco - OCD here I come!

    Ole - I know that seagull.
     
  12. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    It's so easy to spot a print that I consider spots to be inexcusable. I've even been known to spot RC workprints in workshops - maybe I'm just anal.
     
  13. Daniel Grenier

    Daniel Grenier Member

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    A spot intentionally left on a print by a photographer is like a hair in a bowl of soup intentionnaly left by the cook.... Unacceptable.
     
  14. jmdavis

    jmdavis Member

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    What about a fly in the soup? I mean it is extra protein and all.


    Mike Davis
     
  15. inthedark

    inthedark Member

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    Ole, What a good idea, instead of trying to white opaque and then tone or color a black spot in the sky, one could simply give a hint of horizontal line to indicate wings, and be done with it. Won't work for other black spots but I suppose in water, a horizontal line just under the flaw would make it look like a dark fish just about to top. Interesting thinking going on in my head now, I have always tried to fix it to be "right," I've never considered simply being a bit more artistic in my solutions.
     
  16. veba

    veba Member

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    I look at somebodies print, I like it or I don't, with or without the spots. If the photographer doesn't mind the spot it's his call.
    EVERYTHING is acceptable when it comes to the photographer's decision what to do with his work, it's up to the observers to like the work or not...

    Veba
     
  17. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    This is like the art school that teaches only the conceptual side of photography. The photographer can travel along with the print & explain away the defects.
    If yo think your work is so good it doesn't need to be spotted, more power to you but don't expect a lot of sales.
     
  18. esanford

    esanford Member

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    Spots are totally unacceptable... That is why it is so important to handle film in the most pristine environment that one can have/afford. Spotting is such a frustrating and arduous task that the best thing is to never get dust and debris on your negatives in the first place. Having said that, dust is inevitable and your prints should be spotted.

    One thing that I would recommend is to spend your time printing good negatives and eliminate the practice of "negative scanning" which increases the likelihood that negatives will become dirty or even scratched. Negatives IMHO negatives should be drying, in the glassine or being projected in a clean carrier and no place else.
     
  19. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    When apprenticing under a master photographer more than 50 years ago, the first thing I was taught was that any print regardless of what it was intended for, work print or what ever had to be spotted before it left the finishing room. A spot in a print shouts to me, "whom ever made the print
    was too lazy to deliver his/her very best"! Just my opinion! Charlie......

    Anyone can learn to spot a negative or print. The best method bar none to "spot" is to eliminate it in the very beginning! Take the extra time to clean your holders before loading them. This is a source for the black curlys. White curlys only happen on negatives that have not properly been
    cleaned, brushed, blown off before printing, or dust settling on the printing paper before exposure. Most all spots can be eliminated before the final print. Also ground your enlarger.......................
     
  20. MikeS

    MikeS Member

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    I had one print that had several spots on it, and the negative was clean, they were IN the negative. I was showing the print to a friend, and he asked for the negative, I showed it to him, and he pulls out a jeweler's loupe (the kind you hold WITH your eye socket) and screws on an extra lens to it, looks at the negative for a few moments, and then tells me they're not spots, they're birds! So now whenever I see spots in my skies I just assume they're birds! :smile:

    -Mike