Spotting negatives with red dye

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Don Wallace, Nov 7, 2007.

  1. Don Wallace

    Don Wallace Member

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    I posted about this some time ago, but I can't remember when, in which forum, or even which newsgroup. I even got an answer to my question, but I can't remember what it was. OK, gettin' a little old here. No jokes.

    A few years ago, I saw some original negatives of Yosuf Karsh and on one 8x10 neg of Marshall McLuhan, I noticed a small patch where it had been scraped with a knife and the area tinted with red ink. I know that this is done to fix a defect in the neg, but can anyone give me a little more detail as to how it works?

    I have a really great neg that unfortunately got a few scratches in an area that would make it hard to spot on the print (damned non-hardening fixer! Never again). I am wondering if this technique is useful in this situation.
     
  2. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Yes, spotting the negative is a recognized technique that has been extensively used, particularly for large format negatives. You can use many different methods. There is the use of soft lead pencil, liquid water soluable opaque solution, and dye. Some large format films, Kodak included have retouching surfaces on the base side. Sometimes the best you can do is to opaque-out a clear spot on the negative, so it prints white on the print, then you dye-down the white spot on the print. Dye spotting down a white spot on a print is much better than scraping away, or bleaching a dark spot on the image on the print. Opaque (either dry to be mixed with water) or liquid opaque has a reddish rust color to the pigment, and perhaps that is what you noticed, but it is not dye, and can be washed off the negative should you wish to.
     
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  3. Don Wallace

    Don Wallace Member

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    The red that I saw on this negative was not rust colour but almost pink, and transparent. It did not look like it would wash off, but I will go back and check!

    I think I will give the pencil a whirl too.
     
  4. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    You were almost certainly looking at what Kodak sold as "Crocein Scarlet" dye; is is water-soluble and was apparently the standard for dye retouching for many years. I bought a bottle from B&H a few years ago, but I doubt that Kodak still offers it. If I can believe what Wikipedia tells me, it is also known as Biebrich Scarlet and is used in biology, so it is probably still available somewhere.

    According to the few written discussions of retouching that I have seen, it is used both for details (taking out power lines, for example) and for general lightening (as a faint "wash"). It is a dye and not a pigment, and can be washed out of the negative if necessary; it has to go on the emulsion side, unless there is a hydrophilic retouching layer on the back of the negative.
     
  5. richard ide

    richard ide Subscriber

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    Hi Don
    The dye is Crocein Scarlet (Kodak #146 3751 one ounce. Probably not available from Kodak any more. I bought mine in 1978 and have enough for 20 lifetimes unless I get really busy :< ). IIRC Method of use was to take 6 small bottles with 50 cc of water in each and add a small amount of dye to the first bottle, then take 1cc from bottle #1 and add to #2 and so on until you had 6 different dilutions. Solution 1 is a good block out opaque. I retouched aerial photo negatives or an overlay for exposure control. Application was using Qtips. It takes a very light application to make a noticeable change in density.
    If you google it, you should be able to find a non photographic source. You are close so PM me for an arrangement.
    I promise to read whole post before responding.
     
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  6. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    There are several different techniques. One involved a Kodak product that was totally opaque and either red or black in color. The Kodak product was a paste that came in a small jar. It was used mainly in the graphics arts industry to clean up negatives before making plates.

    Crocein scarlet was another product that was used in various dilutions to mask negative flaws. The concept was to use the dye to hide the flaw, producing a white (ish) spot on the print that could then be spotted to match the surrounding area.

    But the third technique is something called dye dodging. It involves using a transparent dye (eg, Dr. Martin's Transparent Watercolors) to increase the density in the shadow area of negatives in order to open those shadows. In that sense, it is similar to dodging, but it is semi permanent because it is applied directly to the negative (or to a blank sheet of film taped to the negative). If done with a yellowish dye, the result is also a reduction in local contrast, while use of a red or magenta dye will yield an increase in local contrast. And unlike the process with crocein scarlet, this is normally done gradually such that it isn't necessary to spot the print to repair damage done by applying too much dye.
     
  7. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Ansco also marketed the same type of product, It was called Neu Cocein, and worked just as well as Crocein
    Scarlet. A little bit went a long way. If it was noticeable on the negative, it had been fairly heavily applied. Normally it appears a very transparent pink. I never heard of any retoucher using Dr. Martins colors on negatives, but we did use it some on prints. Either of the two "reds" are very difficult to wash completely out if applied to the emulsion side. When Estar Base became available we could use the Scarlet on both sides, but it still was very difficult to wash completely out.

    Kodak Opaque was seldom used if ever used on continuous tone negatives. It was designed for"Strippers" for opaquing any thing they did not want to appear on their work up negatives before burning an offset printing plate

    Charlie.........................................................

    Whoops, left out the fact that both Neu Cocein and Crocein Scarlet were often airbrushed (also some other dyes) on to the negatives, it could be masked
    with rubber cement. or a hand held mask. The closer to the neg the mask was held, the sharper the line. ( A Paasche model AB brush was and still is the choice for negative work.)
     
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  8. Jim Fitzgerald

    Jim Fitzgerald Member

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    Charlie, I just found in my Adams retouching machine a small plastic box that says Grumbacher 1445 SpeedOpaque for film negatives. Is this similar to the Scarlet Crocein? It looks to be a reddish color.


    Jim
     
  9. Phil

    Phil Member

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  10. richard ide

    richard ide Subscriber

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    Jim
    Speedopaque is the type used for spotting line/lith negatives for printers or very high contrast work. Works like a watercolour paint. It was one of the better ones available. A relatively concentrated solution of Crocein Scarlet will work similar to Speedopaque but cannot be removed easily in case of error in application.
     
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  11. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    Lootens on Photographic Enlarging and Print Quality by J. Ghislain Lootens published by Amphoto, Library of Congress Number 61-12971 Has an excellent chapter on this subject.
    Regards
    Bill
     
  12. Jim Fitzgerald

    Jim Fitzgerald Member

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    Richard, thanks. So, with different dilutions I should be able to match the density of the negative. Is that the proper method? I have some badly scratched 8x10 negs that I can try it on. Naturally these were nice shots that were ruined by the scratches. I'm still trying to figure out how they got scratched. I would try matching the density on the base side, correct? Thanks.

    Jim
     
  13. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    I think new crotein is for altering local contrast. More a way to emphasize highlights than to repair scratches. For scratches a black pen drawn over the scratch and spot the print. I think.
    Regards
    Bill
     
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  15. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Jim,
    Quick and easy. If it appears in a dry cake form like water colors used in a pallet, it is for Line film and the graphic arts guys working in prepress stripping.

    If it is a red powder dry and loose in a bottle or jar it most likely to be Neu Cocein or Crocein scarlet. It is a very fine ground powder.

    Charlie.............................
     
  16. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Cowanw,
    You are correct, Corcein Scarlet is not normally used for scratches but can work if applied with 00000 or smaller brush. A tiny drop is carfully allowed to fill the scratch. Then let dry. it will make a grayish to white spot on the print then spot the print the gray to white depends on the dilution you choose. When using a black india ink and000 or 0000 Rapidiograph pen it is best to work on the base side rather than the emulsion. Both scarlets work best with large 4x5 or better negatives. Niether of them work real well for softening or totally eliminating hard scratches.

    Charlie....................................
     
  17. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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  18. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Phil,
    And others using the red dye's, I am quite familiar with
    Looten and his fine book, however I must disagree a bit with his instructions. What he says will indeed work, but his instructions are total overkill! The six bottle bit is a great idea, but I found that to mix up a stock solution
    with plain old tap water will last for a lot of years. Using the premixed as he suggest sounds great, in reality when put to use none of the dilutions will be exactly right for your neg, then you have to do more fiddling. Using a single stock solution, dip your tiny brush into the stock bottle and dab it onto a small white plate. Next apply a drop of water close to the dye. Drag out a bit of clear water then pull out the smallest amount of scarlet you can and let it flow into the water. The pale pink is what you want to start with. Add more of the scarlet to the same drop until you get the dilution that is best for your negative. BTW, I attended several of Looten's work shops, He was and they were very informitive. A little drop of Photoflow in the water is a benefit, but I could see no improvment using ammonia in it. Just my experience...........................

    Charlie..................................

    Another suggestion, is when the mixed drop drys just leave it alone until tthe next time you need to do some dye work. Just dip your tiny brush in clear water and apply it to the dried scarlet, it instantly comes back to life. I have a plate covered with different dry dye mixtures that I use for a pallet. Keep the dust off of it, it will work for a long time.
     
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  19. Don Wallace

    Don Wallace Member

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    Here is the culprit of which I spoke. I scanned the neg and cropped to show you just the scratch in the cloud area. This is a scan of a negative, in positive format.

    I am really new to spotting. What would you do with this? Should I try to fix the neg?
     

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  20. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Hi, I would just spot the print. You could try some "no-scratch" or nose oil on the neg.

    Jon
     
  21. richard ide

    richard ide Subscriber

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    You use six bottles when you are using this stuff a lot. You get to know the density increase with each and sometimes a 9 x 9 negative might have 25% or more of it's surface adjusted. There might be 2 or 3 dilutions used on a negative as well as multiple applications for in between values. Apply with Qtip or cotton pad.
     
  22. richard ide

    richard ide Subscriber

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    Don
    It is easier to darken a print with Spot tone or similar than lighten a dark line which will be more obvious as you need to add white. I would fill the scratch and spot the print. If a client sent me a scratched negative the treatment depended on the quantity to be printed. For quantity printing we would clean up a good print and make a copy negative for reproduction.
     
  23. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Didn't Brett Weston use India ink on his thumb nail, not the hand with the Amidol stains, as in the Art Wright movie, to spot negatives?
     
  24. Jim Fitzgerald

    Jim Fitzgerald Member

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    Charlie, it is the dry cake type. Is it possible to use on the negative to deal with scratches? Thanks.

    Jim
     
  25. Don Wallace

    Don Wallace Member

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    I have been playing with this a little in the darkroom. I tried Edwal No Scratch, to no avail. As I was doing this, I thought of a question that may seem stupid, but here goes.

    The negative is scratched. That should mean that more light gets through to the paper, right? Yet on the print, the scratch is LIGHTER than the rest, not darker. Or am I not getting something?
     
  26. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    Don,

    Light scratches look white on the print because they scatter light away from themselves; the light which should have exposed the area under the scratch gets distributed elsewhere and just contributes to very faint overall glare. A deep scratch, on the other hand, will print dark if it goes most or all of the way through the emulsion. Try lightly scratching a piece of blank film before putting it in the enlarger and you should see this quite clearly. The more collimated the light source, the stronger the effect (i.e.--condenser versus diffusion enlarger).

    Interestingly, the phenomenon leads to one way of fixing airbells (the small, round undeveloped spots caused by air bubbles): a needle is used to make tiny dimples or scratches, so that the light coming through the clear spot is scattered away and causing the spot to print light gray or even white.