Spotting negatives with red dye
I posted about this some time ago, but I can't remember when, in which forum, or even which newsgroup. I even got an answer to my question, but I can't remember what it was. OK, gettin' a little old here. No jokes.
A few years ago, I saw some original negatives of Yosuf Karsh and on one 8x10 neg of Marshall McLuhan, I noticed a small patch where it had been scraped with a knife and the area tinted with red ink. I know that this is done to fix a defect in the neg, but can anyone give me a little more detail as to how it works?
I have a really great neg that unfortunately got a few scratches in an area that would make it hard to spot on the print (damned non-hardening fixer! Never again). I am wondering if this technique is useful in this situation.
Yes, spotting the negative is a recognized technique that has been extensively used, particularly for large format negatives. You can use many different methods. There is the use of soft lead pencil, liquid water soluable opaque solution, and dye. Some large format films, Kodak included have retouching surfaces on the base side. Sometimes the best you can do is to opaque-out a clear spot on the negative, so it prints white on the print, then you dye-down the white spot on the print. Dye spotting down a white spot on a print is much better than scraping away, or bleaching a dark spot on the image on the print. Opaque (either dry to be mixed with water) or liquid opaque has a reddish rust color to the pigment, and perhaps that is what you noticed, but it is not dye, and can be washed off the negative should you wish to.
Last edited by PHOTOTONE; 11-07-2007 at 11:15 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: added clarity
The red that I saw on this negative was not rust colour but almost pink, and transparent. It did not look like it would wash off, but I will go back and check!
I think I will give the pencil a whirl too.
You were almost certainly looking at what Kodak sold as "Crocein Scarlet" dye; is is water-soluble and was apparently the standard for dye retouching for many years. I bought a bottle from B&H a few years ago, but I doubt that Kodak still offers it. If I can believe what Wikipedia tells me, it is also known as Biebrich Scarlet and is used in biology, so it is probably still available somewhere.
According to the few written discussions of retouching that I have seen, it is used both for details (taking out power lines, for example) and for general lightening (as a faint "wash"). It is a dye and not a pigment, and can be washed out of the negative if necessary; it has to go on the emulsion side, unless there is a hydrophilic retouching layer on the back of the negative.
The dye is Crocein Scarlet (Kodak #146 3751 one ounce. Probably not available from Kodak any more. I bought mine in 1978 and have enough for 20 lifetimes unless I get really busy :< ). IIRC Method of use was to take 6 small bottles with 50 cc of water in each and add a small amount of dye to the first bottle, then take 1cc from bottle #1 and add to #2 and so on until you had 6 different dilutions. Solution 1 is a good block out opaque. I retouched aerial photo negatives or an overlay for exposure control. Application was using Qtips. It takes a very light application to make a noticeable change in density.
If you google it, you should be able to find a non photographic source. You are close so PM me for an arrangement.
I promise to read whole post before responding.
Last edited by richard ide; 11-07-2007 at 02:37 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: helps to read before typing
Why are there no speaker jacks on a stereo camera?
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There are several different techniques. One involved a Kodak product that was totally opaque and either red or black in color. The Kodak product was a paste that came in a small jar. It was used mainly in the graphics arts industry to clean up negatives before making plates.
Crocein scarlet was another product that was used in various dilutions to mask negative flaws. The concept was to use the dye to hide the flaw, producing a white (ish) spot on the print that could then be spotted to match the surrounding area.
But the third technique is something called dye dodging. It involves using a transparent dye (eg, Dr. Martin's Transparent Watercolors) to increase the density in the shadow area of negatives in order to open those shadows. In that sense, it is similar to dodging, but it is semi permanent because it is applied directly to the negative (or to a blank sheet of film taped to the negative). If done with a yellowish dye, the result is also a reduction in local contrast, while use of a red or magenta dye will yield an increase in local contrast. And unlike the process with crocein scarlet, this is normally done gradually such that it isn't necessary to spot the print to repair damage done by applying too much dye.
Ansco also marketed the same type of product, It was called Neu Cocein, and worked just as well as Crocein
Scarlet. A little bit went a long way. If it was noticeable on the negative, it had been fairly heavily applied. Normally it appears a very transparent pink. I never heard of any retoucher using Dr. Martins colors on negatives, but we did use it some on prints. Either of the two "reds" are very difficult to wash completely out if applied to the emulsion side. When Estar Base became available we could use the Scarlet on both sides, but it still was very difficult to wash completely out.
Kodak Opaque was seldom used if ever used on continuous tone negatives. It was designed for"Strippers" for opaquing any thing they did not want to appear on their work up negatives before burning an offset printing plate
Whoops, left out the fact that both Neu Cocein and Crocein Scarlet were often airbrushed (also some other dyes) on to the negatives, it could be masked
with rubber cement. or a hand held mask. The closer to the neg the mask was held, the sharper the line. ( A Paasche model AB brush was and still is the choice for negative work.)
Last edited by Charles Webb; 11-07-2007 at 06:32 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Charlie, I just found in my Adams retouching machine a small plastic box that says Grumbacher 1445 SpeedOpaque for film negatives. Is this similar to the Scarlet Crocein? It looks to be a reddish color.
I recently purchased an ounce of Crocein Scarlet in powder form on eBay - the seller still has more listed. It appears to be similar to what Kodak used to sell in the little brown glass bottles.
I found mixing and usage instructions here:
Speedopaque is the type used for spotting line/lith negatives for printers or very high contrast work. Works like a watercolour paint. It was one of the better ones available. A relatively concentrated solution of Crocein Scarlet will work similar to Speedopaque but cannot be removed easily in case of error in application.
Last edited by richard ide; 11-07-2007 at 10:53 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: more info
Why are there no speaker jacks on a stereo camera?