The cost of the dye is only half the equation. The brush is where the retouching capital costs are involved. I have two spotting only brushes.
Windsor & Newton sable hair. One is 00 size and the other 000 size. Very Fine. Neither of mine cost less than $20 over 20 years ago.
The different dried spotting colours are dried in a 4 troughs of a 5 trough glazed bone china watercolur palette. The spare 5th trough is used for mixing dry dyes for matching toned print colours.
Yes, a tiny wipe of the brush on your tongue is all the moisture it takes to pick up a bit of dried dye.
I keep spoiled/test prints processed the same as finished prints to use for the first dab of the dye laden brush, and may dab a few more times to lighten the tone before applying spotting to the final print.
I really like the pens. The trick with the pens is to start with a lighter shade than you think, and try it out. If it's too light, it'll look like you didn't spot it at all. If you put too much on, or too dark a shade, then a quick dab with something wet (a q-tip in distilled water is probably best, but I've been known to wet my finger with a dab of spit as well) will take it up immediately to no ill effect. Best technique is to hold the pen vertically, and dab downward (as previously mentioned, think pointilism). Don't try to use it like a pen to draw lines.
Just saying to the OP... that many of us old timers used spot-tone tried the pens, and went back to spot-tone. I just hoarded the last two bottles at the local store.
Well i was lucky and while I was rummaging through some old boxes I found about 6 bottles of spottone in various shades.
However i also noticed at my local photo store that they had another product they did not tell me about the first time. I dont remember what the name of it was, but it included an opaque white to mix with the black dyes. if I hadnt already bought the pens, I would have tried this out.
That excellent advice goes for pens or brushes.
Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
It's not about spotting perfectly from the outset , rather hiding the defect so it's never seen again :D
The huge mistake most make is immediately match what's missing. I remember teaching someone to spot colour prints about 25 years ago, it was so simple, ironically he's never realised that was the first colour print I'd worked on. However I had been hand colouring B&W ptints for a few years :)
Ian is right. The goal of spotting is not to eliminate spots, the goal is to disguise them.
This was a multiple flash shot, 3 photographers and a spare husband popping off 4 large hand held flash-guns painting the cavern (a manganese mine), however some weren't as careful as I'd asked a straight print shows me in the image rather ghost like.
Originally Posted by RalphLambrecht
I got the shot after about 12-16 flashes from each unit, everyone else closed their shutters way earlier (maybe 4 flashes), then was horrified to see I'd be caught on the right of the image, the flash gun I held was very obvious.
Probably 2 hours work and I'd completely retouched myself out. It's a softly softly approach but works.
I can't really help the op with anything that hasn't already been said. I will say though that I prefer to use a really big brush by retouching standards. I find everything goes a lot faster with one. It also helps to skip around the print building the density up as you go. If you try to fix a spot all in one shot it doesn't work very well. By fixing it a little at a time it is very hard to overdo it.
I have found RaphaŽl brushes to be superb. I prefer them over Winsor & Newton anyway.
Sometimes its easier to apply the dye using a sharpened wooden toothpick. Make a solution of a drop of Photo-Flo to a couple of ounces of water. Dilute the dye with a few drops of this solution so that it is lighter than needed. The dye should be lighter than the surrounding area of the print so that several applications must be made. Allow the pick to soak in the diluted dye for a few minutes. When you remove the pick from the dye make sure there is no visual drop clinging to it. Hold the pick veritcal to the print and apply to the spot. Dip the pick in the dye for a moment and repeat. Keep doing this until the spot is no longer visible.
These helped my spotting tremendously. http://www.doneganoptical.com/optivisor.php