Teach me about spotting BW prints

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by andreios, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. andreios

    andreios Member

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    Hello all,
    I'd like to learn a bit more about spotting my prints. Reason? Dust. I'm usually able to keep dust at manageable level when I'm enlarging, but when making contact prints from LF negatives the problem gets worse and almost every print has a dust mark or more.
    I did a bit of searching, peeped into Way beyond monochrome and learned that THE best thing is Spotone and that I cannot get anymore.
    What would be the next best solution?

    I've looked in the local store. Found some brushes, they did carry some colours/paints made by kooh-i-noor but they looked too much like the stuff we were using in secondary school - I'm not sure about the english term, here they are called aniline paints... Are those OK for spotting regular bw prints on baryta paper or what shall I get?

    Thanks!

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  2. ronlamarsh

    ronlamarsh Member

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    Spotting

    Check out Freestylephoto.biz under photo artistry they have a spotting tab with spotone like dyes and spotting pens. Although I still my stock of spotone when it runs out I'll probably try the spotting pens. Bruce Barbaum uses just a very soft pencil.
     
  3. lightwisps

    lightwisps Subscriber

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    Wow, never even thought about Spotone being discontinued. What next? Beer? Thought I would share a spotting trick that I was taught in high school decades ago. The teacher taught me to take a small chunk of matte board and put a few strips of masking tape on it. Apply a nice coating of straight spotone on it and then just use a brush and wet it and roll it around on the spotone on the making tape. You can really control how dark the spotone will be that way with a little practice. Don
     
  4. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Spotone has not been available in UK for quite a while.

    However!

    What I use are the dyes from an inkjet printer cartridge and extract them using a syringe with a very fine needle and put only a very small drop onto an old plate. The dye's nowadays are very much more light fast than they were 15 years ago and apart from the black in a six colour set cartridge you have all the other 5 colours with which to vary your tone/tints with - Sepia is a doddle! They need to be diluted quite a lot as the dyes are very concentrated and experimentation is needed to get just the shade/depth you need. Let the dye dry out on the plate after using it and then use a damp size '000' brush to apply it with.

    I use a six pot cartridge (Genuine Epson) which I bought specifically for that purpose. Actually a hell of a lot cheaper than Spotone dyes
     
  5. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    I really need to get ontop of making my "how to spot B&W prints" video. In a sad and pathetic way, it's probably my best skill related to printing.

    My advice would be to get a 000 and 0 fine sable brush (I use Windsor and Newton series 7 brushes). I spent about $40 on the pair, but it's well worth it. If you get a cheap brush, you'll lose control, you'll have an inconsistent retention of ink and it will cause you more $$ in frustration. You also need different shades of ink for the different tones. I use one neutral black, a cold black, warm black, selenium tone black. I mix different ones if I need to. Tone is important because if you don't match it, a cold black looks like blue ink on a warmtone print.

    I use extra photo trim as my "test". Before I touch the actual print, I try match the shades to be as accurate as possible. There's nothing worse than trying to tone down a spot that you went too dark on. I always start lighter and go darker (it only makes sense).

    Always make sure you "dot" your spotting. It's not painting, it's spotting (unless you're just trying to match the base density). The idea is to emulate the grain. If there's a big spot, you'll have to use a mix of heavier tones and lighter tones to achieve this.

    From here, it's just a lot of practice. Spotting is truly an art within itself and you'll quickly find that out. You can even use it to add density to certain areas of the print that might be too difficult to do with burning. If you get good enough, you can even sharpen certain areas of a print or image to give them more punch, but that's a whole other lesson.

    Good luck!
     
  6. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I like to use a dry-brush technique and a stippling motion (like tapping). Build up density very slowly.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Little tiny figure eights for me - really, really tiny ones.

    And make absolutely sure you have time for this on a bright morning - you need light!
     
  8. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I use Marshall's Spot-All. The brush I use the most is 3/0.

    Funny thing is, I have much finer brushes but 3/0 works the best for me. I have 20/0 also but I rarely use it. Expect to spend about 10 dollars and up for a fine brush..... and treat with extreme care. Once it loses the "tip", it's gone. You may do better with stores that cater to serious artists, as those stores tends to carry better grade brushes.

    Other than that, it's all in technique. I developed (and later found it's a common method) a process where I dilute and let dry spot-all on a palette overnight. I then slightly wet my brush and lightly touch the dried up dye. I "brush" the brush on discarded envelope until I get the density I want, then go to the real print.

    A trick is, not to PAINT the spot. Amazingly, well placed "dot" in an oblong dust spot will make the spot basically disappear. The goal is not to make the spot gone, but make it obscure enough that it doesn't scream out, "I'm HERE!".

    My brush is made by Princeton Art & Brush Co. Model 3050SP

    Hope this helps.
     
  9. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    I use the Marshall's inks with an almost-dry brush and they work fine for me. The only other thing I have to add is that spotting prints is like crack cocaine. I can go months without touching a print, but once I start, I'm hooked. I start scouring every recent print for dust marks, then I start going through my junk box... before I know it, I'm up in the kitchen fixing blemishes on the wallpaper. :whistling:
     
  10. walbergb

    walbergb Subscriber

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    I "cut my teeth" using the SpotPen. I've had great success using them (be warned--my standard may be quite low). They are still available through Freestyle and B&H in both neutral tone and warmtone. I was given a set of four Spotone bottles, but I haven't used them yet.
     
  11. andreios

    andreios Member

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    Thank you all for some excellent answers! Now I feel quite confident - doesn't seem THAT complicated - and I surely have enough rejected prints that I could not bring myself to throw to the bin - so I have enough material to practice on. :smile:

    As for supplies, I've looked at some more "local" options than Freestyle - living in Europe doesn't make sense ordering from Freestyle nowadays - I've found either "DiaPhoto spotting dyes" or Peerless DrySpot sheets - any experience with either of those?
     
  12. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    I have always used watercolours (Windsor & Newton) which have the advantage of being widely available and have a range of blacks and browns to blend together. An old, glazed saucer makes an excellent palette. When a gloss is required, the watercolour can have a tiny amount of gum added to the mix - either gum-arabic, or from the back of gummed parcel-tape. I think the brushes are W&N too.

    The main technique is to stipple and to start doing this with a brush that's too-dry and too-light. A typical beginner problem will involve having a brush that is too wet and too dark. A mark that is not a round dot can often best be attacked by breaking it in two with a touch in the middle, then repeating this until it is filled - definitely don't try to 'paint' a short line as it shows up horribly.
     
  13. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    In the UK we have the diaphoto as well

    available from silverprint

    I actually use a cocktail stick - with usually reasonable success. Take note, it is *very* easy to go too dark too soon!!
     
  14. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2013
  15. andreios

    andreios Member

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    Thank you, David, yes, I've been looking at FotoImpex - I order most of my materials from them.
     
  16. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    I've been using Spotone in the past, earlier Marshall, and recently the Diaphoto dyes. Spotone had the best colour match to the papers I use, nowadays mainly Se toned MGWT, and I am still not 100% there in terms of the colour match with Diaphoto, but getting there. John Sexton, with whom I had the pleasure of studying a couple of times, currently uses Peerless, mixing their Lamp Black, Ivory Black, Spotting Black and Pearl Grey dyes, as needed. The technique he, and even more so, Anne Larsen, showed, relies on the use of almost dry Winsor and Newton Series 7, size 000 and 00 brushes, in a stippling motion, starting at the centre of a spot, and working in a spiral towards the edges. An OptiVisor No 5, plus an easel, and a good source of light, preferably mixing daylight, tungsten and CFL if possible, make the job much easier. For what it is worth, here is my spotting set-up:

    Rafal's Print Spotting Set-up.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2013
  17. andreios

    andreios Member

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    Thank you, Rafal, this is most helpful.
    Btw, should the prints be spotted before or after dry mounting (in a Seal press)?

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  18. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Most people spot the print after dry mounting.
     
  19. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I use a Windsor Newton #3 brush, purchase the best brush you can afford and contrary to the 0 and 00 crowd I was taught a slightly different method.
    The secret is in the tip and how finely pointed it is, using a very small nose hair brush seems to be the way for some but I prefer to go to a a bigger brush with good tip .

    First you must charge the brush which means collecting spotone, then make sure the point is in good shape . Basically you slightly tap the brush down and the tip charges with tone and you leave a small dot, you continue with this varying the density's and building up until the spot you are working on goes away.

    Think camoflauge clothing and how it blends in with the overall pattern of the background.
    The hardest areas are neutral flat areas and you need to build up gently and slowly.

    If you look at any magazine or for that matter an inkjet print you will see it is made up of hundreds of rossette dots/grain and together they complete the scene.

    Your job as a spotter is to fill in the blanks with a believable pattern.
     
  20. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Ohhhh! I don't like that Idea. Make a mess of the spotting and the dry mounted print and card is wasted.
     
  21. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I will add that the emulsion is more able to accept tone before hot press.

    Also if one is dye retouching a print, steaming the print will allow the dye to suck into the emulsion.

     
  22. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    I'm with Bob on this one. My successful spots are all about camouflage, trying to disguise the issue. Very occasionally, I have used this approach even with black spots, adding a couple of spots to disguise one, though usually black ones get a different treatment as discussed on this thread.

    I spot after dry mounting, as it is easier for me to handle a flat print. It also makes me more careful, I suppose, as there is more to lose. If the print surface got steamed before dry mounting, I will also gently re-steam a spot to make the dye less apparent, especially if a lot of work had been done in an area. I'd use a slipsheet with a hole cut out, so that steam only works on that area, protecting dry-mounted edges.