spotting print help

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by stradibarrius, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    I have never spotted a print before so I have a few questions.
    Do most prints need to be spotted?
    what do I need to get started?
     
  2. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Spotone inks and ooooo high quality artist's brushes. A small porcelain or glass dish. Place a few drops of each ink on the dish and let them dry. They can be mixed to make different tones. Have a processed photographic paper as the print to be spotted to work out the matching tone to be spotted on. Dip the brush in distilled water and pick up the ink that is closest to the area to be spotted and on the practice paper lightly dot until there is a match then apply to the print. Take your time and practice on reject prints. It's better to be additive than to do too much. Carefully remove dust on negatives before printing so spotting can be kept at a minimum. Practice, practice,practice -- don't ruin a print you have spent a lot of time on to begin with. Spotting is not difficult if you take your time.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  3. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I would say all prints need to be spotted.

    You need a fine brush and spotting dye similar to Spotone.

    I like to work with a small palette that has 6 dimples, and I mix the Spotone in different concentrations from dark to light. I make hundreds of little droplets on the palette and allow them to dry out. Then each droplet becomes a "charge" for the brush. I dampen the brush, draw it across a dry droplet, then draw the charged brush onto a test strip to see what tone it is.

    Then I hunt the print for a spot that needs to be that tone and dot it. Sometimes a brush charge is good for several spots. Sometimes it only works for one. Sometimes its a dud and nothing happens.

    Most of my prints have a spot that is futile, the best I can do is to make the spot "less apparent" from a distance, which ultimately is the goal (to reduce distracting the viewer). Sometimes though, the spot disappears so well that you cannot see it when you go back to it later.
     
  4. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    Thanks Jeff! Do most prints have to be spotted to some degree?
     
  5. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    +1 for above. (Jefrayg).. but I am sorry to admit that I use "spit" it works well.

    The other RULE... put the bottle of spot-tone way the hell on the other side of the room!! (This is the most important thing I learned in college)

    I used a piece of 5x7" glossy paper as my pallet.
    Foam core works well to. When I needed more spot tone, I inverted the closed bottle and too it with the 000 brush from the cap.

    It is easier to add spot-tone than take away!!! Start with a clean print... sometimes if you get that "down" you may not need to spot.
     
  6. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    Thanks Bill your post came in after I asked the second question.
     
  7. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    In my experience, almost all prints benefit from some spotting. Keeping film holders, equipment, and darkrooms very clean minimize this. You'll need a very fine tipped watercolor brush and a dye of the appropriate color. Spotone was the standard dye, but may be unavailable now. I've also used Dr. P. H. Martin's inks. Good light and powerful reading glasses help. There should be plenty of online information on technique.

    (edit) Wow! Everybody types faster than me! I agree with above information, except distilled water may work better than spit or some water.
     
  8. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I should have included using magnifying loupes also help.
     
  9. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    I have found that you need not go nuts... spot the print to look right at arms length. Getting out a loupe is overkill.
    I took in Ansel Adams "Fiat Lux" exhibit when it came through Indianapolis, I was surprised that he was plagued with dust issues in a few prints (near black skies he liked to render). And spotting one of his extra large prints the evidence was clearly visible to me.
     
  10. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I always try to to make my spotting invisible to close inspection and find that using an Optivisor (loupes) very useful especially if the area to be spotted has obvious film grain.
     
  11. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I think people would be surprised at the amount of spotting work that goes/went into many of the images we all know. Ansel, Tice etc. Plenty of spotting. And it is a real skill and art in and of itself, so don't be surprised if it takes practice, time and work.

    I remember in a workshop with John Sexton he walked us through the printing of one of his most well known images (Corn Lily). The amount of spotting work that goes into that print is astonishing (done now by his wife and assistant Anne Larsen). Imagine printing 100 of those for sale.
     
  12. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    When I spot prints, I sit down, do a little bit of work then I get up and walk away. I might cap my bottles or put a few things away but, otherwise, leave everything right there on the table.

    Get up. Go do something else for fifteen minutes or a half hour. Come back later and look at your work from standing distance. Not sitting down.

    You'll see things that you didn't see before or, maybe, some things that you thought were problems turn out to be not as bad.

    The problem is that, when you are sitting there, inches from your work, you get so focused on minute details that you can't see the whole picture... literally. As they say, "You can't see the forest for the trees." Walking away from your work for a short time allows your eyes to readjust to normal vision and your mind to relax so that you can see the photo more like others would see it.

    Aside from that, you still need to give the areas where you applied spotting dye some time to dry before you can truly evaluate whether they need more work. It is very easy to get into the mindset where you feel like you have to retouch every single, tiny, little speck on the print that only you will notice. You'll spend an hour spotting a print that only needed five minutes worth of work. Forcing yourself to take breaks stops that "fix every little thing" mindset and makes you work at a more relaxed pace.
     
  13. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I agree with everything said, I do spot under a microscope, but "proof" the spotting from a distance.

    There are many pleasurable moments when a spot completely disappears as if by magic.

    But there are times when a spot I worked on will look incomplete under close inspection, but it disappears nicely at normal viewing distance.

    For those spots, that's where I stop. Spending more time on a spot that is already gone makes it come back.
     
  14. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    You'll need spotting dyes. A little goes a long way. An old white dinner plate and a 000 brush. The trick to good spotting is to avoid it. I always use fresh Photoflo and dry my negs in a clean area. I blow my negs off with a air bulb. I avoid it like the plague. But sometimes I gotta do it :sad:
     
  15. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    I use spotone inks and cocktail sticks versus brushes. I find even the smallest finest brush can put too much dye on. I get better control using a cocktail stick
     
  16. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    A dry brush technique generally works best. The key is to build up density slowly.
     
  17. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    Agreed, or put another way - Thin the spotting ink to a point where it is at least two shades lighter than the area you are spotting. Carefully place the tiniest of spots in the center and allow it to dry. Have another look at the area in question and add another spot of ink and allow to dry. Repeat until the blemish is unnoticeable to the naked eye.
     
  18. Roger Thoms

    Roger Thoms Subscriber

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    +1 on the Optivisor, best thing I ever did for spotting prints. Here's a link to the real deal which I would recommend over a cheap knock off. http://www.doneganoptical.com/products/optivisor

    Once you have an Optivisor, you'll find all kinds of uses for it. There great for looking at negs on a light table, inspecting lens, etc. Nice thing is that the Optivisor preserves your depth perception, with a magnifying glass I was never quite sure when the brush was going to hit the paper.

    Roger
     
  19. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Pretty much every print I do requires some spotting. Sometimes I'm not sure if others would notice but I do. I use the same kind of palette that Bill uses, and dry brush as Michael described. I also keep the palette in a zip-lock bag between uses. A little distilled water recharges it, and the stuff will last forever. I don't think I've added to the palette in over a year.. (I also save reject prints to dab off the excess liquid, and test it on a similar tone on the reject print).
     
  20. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I'm going to have to do that. When it gets dusty I have to rinse it off and re-dottify it.

    I keep cotton swabs, pads and coffee filters (make great blotters but often discharges the whole brush) in a zip-lock bag. No idea why I didn't think of putting the palette in one.
     
  21. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I'd say MANY prints need to be spotted. When I print 35mm negatives, I try to be so careful to blow away all dusts but inevitably, some get left behind. Because magnifications is so high, a tiny spot becomes visible blotch. Those need to be spotted as they attract too much attention. Sometimes, film imperfections like dried on particles becomes problems. They need to be spotted. My criteria is, if the defect is large or offensive enough, they get spotted. If they are in innocuous area or very small, sometimes I leave them alone.

    You need:
    Spotting dye
    Small brushes
    Palette with many holes
    Small pipette

    I find 000 brushes most useful. 00000 brush less useful but nevertheless essential. Buy good to great brushes - no bargain brands, please. It is absolutely essential that tip of the brush holds together. Also, be very careful and use these brushes only for spotting.

    What I do is, a day before spotting, I put a small amount of (a drop or two) dye on two places in the palette. Then add few drops of water. Let it dry over night. It spreads and makes a patch of very thin coat of dye. Next day, I wet my brush very slightly and dab on the dried area to pick up very small amount of dye. I do some trial "spotting" on a sheet of paper (I find envelopes junk mails come in great for this purpose!) until the density is little less than just right. Then spot the print. Repeat this process until I'm satisfied that spot no longer attracts attention. The density needs to be built up by repeated application. This method is so much easier than diluting the dye to match the tone.

    The goal is NOT to paint the fault entirely or it has to match exactly. You'll be amazed, a dot in the middle of white area takes attention away from the blotch. If you stand a foot or two away from the print and you can't find it, you are DONE. If your dot is too strong or too dark, it will attract attention, so it is essential to use small dots and less density.

    Next time you go to a museum, examine prints very closely.... you'll be amazed how "imperfect" of a spotting job great prints have.... yet, at distance, they blend in. That's all we need.

    It's a lot easier than it sounds. If you make a mistake, just wash the print and dry, and start over again. You'll get a hang of it after few times.
     
  22. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I'm fond of the SpotTone spotting pens - others dislike them.

    Make sure you have excellent light - even, diffused, of good intensity and reliable colour.

    Too little is much better than too much.

    Tiny spots laid down in a figure 8 pattern fill up an area better than any attempt to lay down larger amounts.

    Matte or semi-matte paper is your friend.

    And make sure you don't mistake details of the scene for dust and mistakenly spot them out.