12x20 printing...some frustrations
So I'm pretty discouraged this morning.
After such a productive day processing film and printing, I had very high hopes for my prints when I came back to the lab.
Heated up the dry-mount press and flattened out the prints w/out taking a very close look at them.
Got them all flat then made my final inspection. Print quality? Not bad. Subject matter? Interesting. Technical issues? Dust!
Dust? What? Crap! Dust!!!!! Dust everywhere. Little black specs on the print all through the sky.
With the digital camera I can deal with dust. A click of the mouse and whoosh, it's gone.
With the 12x20 camera I have 240 square inches of film to worry about. 240 square inches that is, in essense, a giant dust magnet.
I'm going to have to do some serious house-cleaning of the camera, film-holders and the black plastic bags that I carry the film holders around in. Other than that, there isn't really much I can do.
Anyway, here's the photograph of the extinct Teton Dam Reservoir. Fortunately for you, the dust is smaller than the pixels on your monitor and you don't have to suffer with it.
Extinct Teton Dam Reservoir
Some technical data about the image:
Photographed with a Korona 12x20 Banquet camera, ca. 1930. Lens was a Voightlander 7 1/2 inch lens, ca. 1890. Film: FP4. The 7 inch lens doesn't quite cover 12x20, so the corners are vignetting, or are cut-off and go black. When you're focused on close objects, it isn't as pronounced as when you're focused on distant ones.
Great image, I'm glad to see you are making excellent use of that camera. I'm sorry I can't help you with your dust problem; I haven't printed in years, so I don't know what technologies, supplies are still available.
Neat image. For dust, I really like the Kinetronics 4" antistatic brush (also good for lenses and LP's), and Dust-Off.
The falloff is really distracting in that image, mostly in the top left corner. I've seen black corner be used well in some images, but it does not seem to help this photograph at all. I suggest getting some lenses that cover better.
As for black specks on the prints, that would mean clear spots on the negative, which means DUST ON YOUR NEGATIVE. Clean your film holders very well, and maybe get some DustOff to blow off the negative when loaded into the holders.
Can you elaborate?
Originally Posted by Ryan McIntosh
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If you've got black specks on the print, then that means the dust got there before the shot. Clean the filmholders and the loading area carefully before loading, and wear a hat when you load film.
If you've got white specks, that means that you got dust on the neg between development and printing.
If you have dust on your negative when making the exposure, the light will not travel thru the dust speck, so that area of the film is unexposed (clear on the negative). When printed, it prints black.
From here on out, just make sure your holders and clean and you load your holders in a clean space. Usually blowing off the negative is not needed, but you might need to in your case.
As far as your negative goes, you can use a VERY fine spotting brush and some Spottone to spot out the tiny clear dots on your negative. Some people are really good at this and can make it match the surrounding area, if not...just make it a black dot on the negative which would print as a white dot on the print. A white dot on the print could be spotted very easy then.
I have had continuous dust problems with 4X5, but I can never see too much when I contact print. It is when I enlarge that things get really bad. I have been able to improve things by being incredibly anal when loading film. I first hit them with dust off and smack them a little to get dust dislodged. I then use a small vacuum to clean any remaining dust off of the holders. I always store them in antistatic ziplock bags and also use an air cleaner in the room when I do this. I use a changing bag, so I also clean that out every time. So far this has helped, but in no way completely solved the problem.
About the only way I found I could eliminate dust when loading holders was to use the bathroom after I had run the shower on hot for about 10 minutes, and then let the steam clear for another 10 minutes. After making sure the holders themselves were dust free I completely eliminated any dust on the negative prior to exposure.
For printing I use one of the kinetics brushes and also run a negative air ionizer (or is it de-ionizer?) which seems to help quite a bit.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
You may be able to minimize the dust specs by retouching the clear spots on the neg. Not that its easy but it can help to hide them a bit. Personally I think if you're going to use lenses that do not cover the format the vignette needs to be centered on the image or equal in each corner. Its obvious that the lens was not properly centered on the board and i find this distracting to an otherwise good image.