On spotting (or not)

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by micek, Jun 19, 2005.

  1. micek

    micek Member

    Messages:
    220
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    The Canary I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have been tempted to participate in different print exchanges, but have been hesitant to do so for the following reason: I have several prints I am (very) happy with except for the presence of minuscule white spots that are not really noticeable when holding the print at arm's length, but which become apparent once you inspect it a bit more closely. I have tried spotting my prints, but the spotting also becomes apparent once you look at the print in detail. My wife says I'm being paranoid about this and should get over it, but getting "over it" does not remove the spots that flaw the prints. Am I the only Apugger incapable of producing absolutely flawless prints, or is a certain degree of imperfection deemed acceptable?
     
  2. lee

    lee Member

    Messages:
    2,913
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Location:
    Fort Worth T
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    no you are not the only apugger incapable of producing absolutely flawless prints. buy a 0000 brush at an art supply and practice on rejects and soon you will be able to spot like a pro.

    lee\c
     
  3. Shmoo

    Shmoo Subscriber

    Messages:
    972
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2003
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I was once asked by a bonehead darkroom clerk (local rental place) why I wanted my test strips "archival". The reason is that they make great test strips for testing out combinations of different dilutions of Spotone (or Marshall's). Save your test strips...test your spotting technique there first.

    Like Lee said, use the smallest brush you can (I use a 5/0) and IMO the shortest brush...greater control. Use a drybrush technique (dip the brush in the tone, wipe off most of it, use as little as possible...you can always go back later)

    Let that print area dry in between applications. You can always go spot in another area.

    Good lighting & magnification are helpful. You might try spotting using an Opti-Visor...a jeweler's visor. The downside of using one is that EVERYTHING seems to need spotting!!! :smile:

    Good luck!
     
  4. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

    Messages:
    735
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Location:
    Minnesota Tr
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have never had a dust free LF print. I'd love to know how anyone manages such. For MF, oil immersion rules.
     
  5. micek

    micek Member

    Messages:
    220
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    The Canary I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Could you please explain what you mean by oil immersion?
     
  6. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

    Messages:
    1,064
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Location:
    Fond du Lac,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use a Dick Blick Pure Kolinsky Sable #2 brush. It goes to a very fine point, and I have to re-dip the brush much less than with a smaller brush. Magnifiers on an articulated arm are very helpful. I have a 2x model, and I would prefer greater magnification. The biggest mistake beginners use is to use too wet of a brush. In addition, make sure that the first application has been completely absorbed before trying to add more density to that particular spot.

    Btw., I prefer dilute india ink to spotone.
     
  7. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

    Messages:
    1,691
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    Saratoga Spr
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use a 5/0 artists brush with Spottone. I put a few drops of the Spottone liquid on a pallate and allow it to dry. As I use the Spottone, I create additional puddles of the dye that are diluted more and more to be lighter in color. Then, I use a barely damp brush to pick up a bit of the appropriate shade of dye to apply to the print.

    The pallate that I use is a plastic container that originally held makeup. I threw away the original contents and washed it out thoroughly before recycling it. The advantage is that it is small and has a closure. I only deal with the original Spottone liquid every two or three years - the rest of the time I used the dried dies in the pallate.

    By the way, it's helpful to put a bit of Kodak Photo-flo in the water that is used with the dyes - the Photo-flo breaks down the surface tension in the water and prevents it from puddling on the print. As Peter has noted, however, the real secret is to use as little water as possible - the brush should be almost completely dry.

    A trick I learned from David Vestal is to use drug store reading glasses as magnifiers. You can get more expensive magnifiers, but reading glasses work just as well, are much more convenient, and the price is much more attractive. I wear bifocals, and I find that the magnifiers have to be at least 1 diopter stronger than my reading glasses to really be effective. By the way, there is such a thing as magnifiers that are too strong - you don't want to spot the gaps between the grains of silver in the image.

    You need a strong, directional light. I picked up a fluorescent drafting light at a garage sale a number of years ago for my son to use as a desk lamp in college. He took it with him his first year, but then found that he rarely used his desk, so I took it back. It works great for spotting. The reason you want it directional is that when you are doing very precise work, you want to be able to see a shadow of the brush on the print - you move the brush toward the print until it and its shadow come together at the spot you are working on.

    Another lesson from David Vestal is that you don't necessarily need to make spots go away altogether - what you do need to do is reduce local contrast to the point where the viewer is no longer distracted by the spot.
     
  8. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,481
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto-Onta
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    I use Windsor Newton finest Sable series 7 #2 size
    these brushes last for years and as well I have purchased reading glasses from the drugstore as advised above , works real well.
    Spotting is a bit of the art of camoflage. you do not have to completely remove the spot or line just fill it in a bit until the eye cannot see it. It takes time to learn , and only by practice. I cannot imagine how anyone gets away with not being able to spot.

    Do not try to eliminate the spot in one go , build up slowly and come back to the spot if you have to . I use a bigger brush than others and I charge the brush with spot-tone and then let the dye drop into the point. A good brush is very important. I do not like the small nose hair style of brushes as the dye should drop into the print from a very well shaped point.

    The series#7 brushes keep their point very well for this purpose.
     
  9. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

    Messages:
    735
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Location:
    Minnesota Tr
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It is also called Wet Gate in the mopix world where I learned of it at Collumbia College back in the dark ages. Frankly, I only used it in 35mm on a job. Later I tried a few anti-scratch solutions with only modest success. Nose grease works just as well for 35mm. Wish I could find a MF (6x10cm) version for stills in the Leitz IIc. Any help in that regard would be welcome.
     
  10. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

    Messages:
    9,323
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I am curious if anyone shoots with spotting in mind? For example shooting scenes with high texture subject matter which would easily mask any print defects. I shot a tree bark detail in 8x10 yesterday. One of my thoughts when looking at the neg was that if there are any imperfections they will be easily blended within all of the textures. I have had probems shooting clear skies before, and imperfections showing up in the light values. I'm not saying I plan to shoot all of my work based around subject matter that makes it easy to avoid spotting, but it does come to mind sometimes..
     
  11. micek

    micek Member

    Messages:
    220
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    The Canary I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thank you all very much for your input.
     
  12. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

    Messages:
    3,219
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Dust was the bane of my existence until Michael Smith showed me how to spot one. Any of you in the postcard exchange who have received my picture of the boats: they all had dust spots on them. I spotted all 18 of them using Michael's method in about 15 minutes. Some were better than others, but in most of them you would be hard pressed to find where I had to spot them.

    Go to the Azo forum and do a search on it. I think he outlines the procedure in answer to someone's question. Do exactly as he tells you. The trick is to build density incrementally. Once you go too far, you're dead.

    And yes, lick the brush. Saliva, rather than water, makes a big difference in the control you wield.
     
  13. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,980
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Richeson Miniature Series brushes are my favorite spotting brushes. Ideally, you want to go to an art supply store and pick the brushes out yourself, rather than buying mail order, so you can find brushes that point well.
     
  14. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

    Messages:
    3,221
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    S.E. New Yor
    I would add the importance of constantly training your brush. Always turning it, in the same direction, between your fingers as you draw it along the pallette. This twists the bristles to a point over time and holds them there. A well trimmed and trained brush is an invaluable possession that can't be bought off the shelf.
     
  15. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,481
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto-Onta
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    Sean - you will make the best hurricane and monsoon photographer in the world, no spotting there.
     
  16. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,522
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You all should also look into SpotPens - they're soooooooo much easier to use than brushes with spotTone. No mixing required, no licking required. They last a very long time if you keep them capped, and they are as fine as a 000 brush (I think... might be one size up or down from that). The trick to spotting with them is to start lighter than you think you might need, and if it's wrong, it will be obvious because it basically won't show. When you hit the proper darkness, you'll know immediately. If you dork it up, just a dab of water (or spit) on your fingertip will suffice to take it up. SpotPens come in two different sets - one warmtone, one neutral/cold. They are graded from 1 to 10, with 1 being a hair darker than paper white, and 10 being Dmax black. Try them and see- they are so much better than spotTone.
     
  17. Poco

    Poco Member

    Messages:
    653
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    <f anyone shoots with spotting in mind? >

    I certainly clean my film holders with subject matter in mind. If I know I'm going to be shooting busy, textured subjects, I don't obsess about possible dust.
     
  18. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,129
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2002
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I do it pretty much excatly as Monophoto describes. Another trick sometimes suggested is to turn the print upside down which is meant to stop you looking at the photo itself and to just concentrate on the spots. I do this sometimes but I'm wary of spotting out a spectral highlight that should be there! I also don't aim for a 'perfect match under magnification', just discolouring a spot is usually enough to hide it effectively. 'Donuts' where you've applied too much are much more noticable than something being a little bit light. Once I think a print is right, I give it to the quality control officer (wife!) and if she can't pick it.. no one will!

    Jim, I didn't notice your spotting! I'm going to have a closer look or give it to the wife for inspection :smile: