Retouching - what to use?
Hi. I am wondering what retouching materials folks are using on prints? I use a set of spot tone dyes and a 00 brush for fine spot retouching if needed. I am happy enough with this, but I recently have a set of prints with larger areas of imperfections which are in need of more extensive retouching. I would also like to subtly clone out a few highlights, etc.
So, would anyone care to share some technique for this, or some materials that blend and work well for black and white (untoned) prints?
The prints are also printed on RC paper.
I really appreciate the help. I have some sort of attachment to the images and would like to salvage them at the printing stage if possible, and I really don't have a handle on what tools and techniques are available for retouching this way. (my husband was trying to be funny and told me to PS it out. ahem. I laughed all the way back to the darkroom :rolleyes: .)
Hmmm, well must be a real stupid question, or one that folks are not familiar with. I guess if a neg has an issue the only thing to do is to toss it out. Which is what I'm going to have to do since everything I've tried on this print so far is not working.
Sorry nobody responded.
There is quite a bit of info on the site about retouching and what people use.
The problem is that to answer your question takes a bit of time to type it all in.
I retouch negs and prints using the wet/dry technique and Veronica Cass dyes. Unfortunately she shut down her business and I'm not sure they are still available anywhere.
Look through the archives here and if you still can't find what you need, post again and we'll go through it again for you.
Type in "retouching" into the search feature.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
I think that one thing that I would consider is trying to save a RC print. I personally do not favor RC materials...but that is another matter.
I am not sure how the toning would go on RC prints but this is what I would do if the print were on fiber materials. If the negative were of sufficient size (perferable 4X5 or larger) I would retouch on the negative if I wanted to correct a print requiring an increase in tonal scale in certain areas. The preferred material would be cocein scarlet (a red dye) that can be diluted and the density can be built on the negative. The effect is softer then using a black dye for the same job.
Since you are talking about removing highlights on a print, the opposite course would be taken. The removal of density on a specific area of a negative is done most usually by abrading the affected area. This is difficult and subject to failure.
Working on the print, one can retouch with a brush and materials like spotone...Weston reportedly used gum arabic and india ink. The application can be done with brush or it can be done with an airbrush. Again a steady hand are called for.
Beyond that one can mask the camera negative using lith films. Depending on the generation of the mask it can address either highlights or shadows.
Sometimes it just pays to reshoot if that isn't out of the question.
I had actually made a search on "retouching" and came up with quite a bit to read before I posted this. I found a lot of advice about how to use spot-tone to clone out little dust spots and what I assume as really small areas of a print. I do this as well, and use spot-tone inks and a brush. But, what I didn't find was specific material choices for retouching larger areas on images. I assume that using spot tone inks is the only way to go, and so I set about trying to brush and stiple tones of inks over my area needing help, but was not very satisfied with the result.
If this is the only choice out there, then I will struggle with improving my technique. Maybe it's as simple as a spot pen, but I wonder how the tones can be perfectly matched from a pen system?
At this point, I would prefer to address the print. I don't want to try bleaching back the negative. But, Donald, that information is good to have. This is a 6x6 negative, and would be difficult to mask properly, but I shoot 8x10 and so knowing how to fix a negative is something else that I'll eventually want to look into, I'm sure.
And, again, I'll troll the site one more time for more specific information.
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Is it possible to show us the print and maybe there are others here that can offer some advice as well. It's hard to know by description, exactly what problems you have encountered.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
The technique Donald mentions, "Abrading" is not a bleaching technique but one where you actually remove a bit of the highlight emulsion of the negative with a super sharp knife (not an exacto) or use negative reducer which used to be available from Kodak and Ansco. It is very much like the rubbing compounds used for polishing out Lacquer paint finishes. The technique is difficult to control and cannot be reversed. The same for Abrading. The kodak knife is made of surgical steel which takes and holds a very good edge.
The blade is approximately 3/8 inch wide with an angled cutting surface to shave tiny layers of the emulsion from the negative to reduce high light density in small areas.
Never toss a negative that may someday yield a print you want. You may even have to resort to your husband's suggestion. Photoshop, like any other crutch, does have its uses.
Originally Posted by Tammyk
I've seen glass plate portrait negatives that were close to 50% covered with graphite pencil. Graphite can be easier to control than wet dyes on negatives with enough tooth. I used to use graphite to correct some problems in half-tone negatives, too.
Spot Tone works well enough for me on tiny spots and lines on FB or RC papers. Matching the color and value in larger areas takes much more patience. Some of the older techniques, such as etching dark areas and painting light areas, required spraying the print to restore a uniform surface.
I have used Spotone on resin coated prints, but the color always seemed to be off, sometimes way off no matter what dye mixture or kind of brush I used. I tried Berg Touchrite dyes, but found them worse than Spotone. I am currently using Marshall's retouching dyes and they seem to work well. They are not very expensive so I suggest that you try some and see what you think. Try the link below for info.
Ha, Thanks Charlie- I won't be doing any neg manipulations for now, knives involved or not . Maybe NEVER. haha...
Thanks for the tip, Wayne. I'll have a look at the Marshall retouching dyes.
I can try to scan in an example if it would help.
But, aside from fixing imperfections, I understand that some artists might take more liberties on the prints (after the fact of toning, etc) to do final finishing touches, according to their vision. And for this, I would assume the same archival materials for retouching would be used. I might like to take the same liberties at some point.