Negative cleaning technique

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by ParkerSmithPhoto, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Member

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    What is your preferred method for cleaning a film negative before printing? I've had a couple lately that have driven me nuts with dust and spotting.
     
  2. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Canned air plus a soft makeup brush before putting them in the gate of the enlarger.

    If that doesn't work, wash them in a solution of Photo-Flo and warm water. Rub them GENTLY with a Q-Tip while under water. Hang to dry in a dust free area. Use a syringe filled with Photo-Flo solution to squirt any tiny dust spots off the film before it dries.
     
  3. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    PEC-12 & Pecwipes. Also a microfiber cloth. An anti-static gun comes in handy now and then. Sometimes the problems is that the enlarger and surroundings are dusty and the dust flies to a static charged negative on its way from being cleaned to being put in the enlarger. I find Swiffer dusters to a good job dusting enlargers.
     
  4. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Prevention is the best cure:

    1) Photoflo and distilled water
    2) Dust free drying
    3) Don't touch the image surface with fingers

    I have some Kodak negative cleaner but think I have used it once in ten years. It is for grease and oil (finger prints) but it does nothing for a negative dried with dust imbedded in the emulsion.
     
  5. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Just another suggestion in general might be slightly off topic, look for a air purifier at goodwill (got mine for $10 works wonderful , put it in my room where I dry negs), and put it where you'd work on film.

    I myself use lens cloth, a soft brush and a rubber air bubble/pump in the dark room.
     
  6. ROL

    ROL Member

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    I just use an old spotting brush to remove junk. Then pray nothing else lands on them between the light box and the enlarger's film stage. Wash 'em again if they're very dirty.
     
  7. Stephen Prunier

    Stephen Prunier Subscriber

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    This post comes at a perfect time! I also have been wondering what to do with some of my neg's. I tried the photo-flo & Q tip, but I wasn't happy. Maybe I need to practice more. Last night I was thinking about using a HEPA room air cleaner like the one Iv'e used on some of my Carpentry Jobs.
    After reading how your doing something similar, with good results makes me happy :smile:
     
  8. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    My darkroom is inside our house and under our central AC system. I keep a filter over the duct to the room so beside the good advice you have received the room air cleaner is still a good idea. Our climate is rather humid and we are not near road traffic so dust has not been a problem but everything helps. Dust-off, PEC-12 and a brush are always handy. Cover the enlarger with a trash bag when not in use and keep additional lenses with their lens caps in ziplok bags.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  9. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I keep an air purifier with HEPA filter running at all times in my DR, dust is nearly non-existant. I also damp wipe everything in my lab once a week, damp mop the floor when finished cleaning. At most, my negs require a light dust with canned aid just before loading in machine.
     
  10. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Clean drying, plastic sleeves, canned air before printing.
     
  11. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    I use a small, 4x5 developing tray. Put about a 1/4 teaspoon of Photo-Flo in the tray and fill up with warm water from the tap.
    I let the film soak for a few minutes before working. Then hold the film down to the bottom of the tray with two fingers and wipe across the film with the Q-Tip. Pretend you are painting the film so you cover the whole surface evenly. Use light pressure but firm enough to "scrub" away embedded dust.

    Make sure you hold the film and the Q-Tip completely under water. Rotate the swab as you move so only clean cotton touches the film. Change to a new, clean swab often. Any tiny, little bit of grit on the swab will scratch the film. What's worse, you might not know that you scratched the film until you put it back in the enlarger and try to print from it.

    Do both sides of the film. Swirl the solution a couple of times to wash away any loose particles then hang to dry.

    Wait a minute or two so the film can drain. Shine a light off the film so you can see the reflection. You should be able to see any particles still adhering to the film. If there are still particles, wash again or, better yet, use a syringe filled with your solution to squirt the dust off the film.

    I just washed this negative that way: http://www.flickr.com/photos/randystankey/5875851924
    With a picture that dark (or a negative that clear) I thought I would never get it clean but I only had to dab out two or thee small spots on the final print. (The one and only thing I like about digital/hybrid photography is that spots are so much easier to clean up.)

    In the future, I think I'm going to get an electrostatic air cleaner if I can find one. Combine that with keeping the darkroom clean and I think I'll be able to keep the dust down to a tolerable level.
     
  12. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    This is my solution:

    Photo Flo..........................2.50 mL
    70 % Isopropanol alcohol....30.00 mL
    Soak film 1 - 2 min, hang to dry --- NO SQUEEGEEING
     
  13. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I would suggest as follows - I don't use Photo-Flo, but after washing I dunk and swirl the film for about 30 seconds in de-ionised water and then hang to dry in ambient temperature. This ensures no drying marks. However, before storage in a negative page, I place the strips of 6 pictures on the negative page, shiny side up and breathe on them as you would to mist up a mirror and then wipe shiny side only with a clean lens cloth. The result is perfectly clean negs.
     
  14. hadeer

    hadeer Member

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    I use a film vacuum cleaner. It has two rows of soft, anti-static brushes between which you gently pull the film. A small electric motor draws in the air between the two brushes. Don't know if these things are still available. Maybe in a sale from a professional darkroom. Works wonderful anyhow.
     
  15. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Member

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    I took your advice on the PecPads (without the solution). Those are amazing for grabbing dust!

    Glass negative carrier + PecPads = no problem! I wipe all four sides, make a little PecPad sandwich (PP is the bread, negative is the meat), pull the neg through and it's nearly flawless. The few spots I've had are so tiny that they take but a few seconds to spot.

    Word to the APUG
     
  16. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    I use my breath and a lens microfiber on the non-emulsion side set on a clean surface. Rubbing gently with a microfiber between thumb and forefinger can sometimes get rid of embedded dust.