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  1. #1
    mooseontheloose's Avatar
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    Dust in the darkroom

    Although I do all my film developing at home, I do all my enlarging at a local community darkroom, often working with 3-5 other people in the same workspace, using the same chemicals, etc. Having my own darkroom is impossible since I live in a tiny flat with no doors that shut properly, and because I move around a lot.

    As you can imagine, I'm having problems with dust and there isn't much I can do about it other than wiping down my workspace (and leaving it settle for a while before printing) when I use it. The worst is printing my 6x6 negs -- they, and the neg holder, attract a lot of dust that I can remove, but new dust finds it way onto the neg by the time I put it back into the enlarger (Durst). The other problem is dust within the lens that I use to print -- I can see those pesky little guys inside, there's no getting them out. So, rather than go crazy trying to make clean prints, I know that I'm just going to have to learn how to spot them. However, having had several bad spotting experiences in the past (probably just technique and too large a brush), I'd like to know what people currently recommend for spotting both RC and FB papers. Dyes (diaphoto, marshall's, photospeed) or pens (tetenal)? Is there one that works well with both? I'd rather not have to buy products for both fiber and RC prints. For dyes, would a 00 brush work best? Is it necessary to get other sizes?

  2. #2
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    try more oo's

    I know it is hard to justify, but I have found that when spotting a ooo of even smaller, if you can find them works best. I recall spending $20 on a windsor & newton that is tiny. My wife was with me a the time of this shopping venture, and could not belive I would pay that.

    My experience had shown that multiple dabs with a mostly dry tiny brush saves more prints from over spotting than a cheap larger brush that drips.

    To combat dust in the past with my negs in a dusty darkroom I would take along an orange ilford wipe cloth carefully kept in its own zip lock ( I don't know their proper name for the cloth, but have a few.) It would come out after all the work surfaces had been wiped with a damp j-cloth like dish rag and let dry.

    I also have had good sucess de-staticizing (if that is a word) using a zerostat anti static 'gun' that I bought 20 years or more ago to deal with dust on vinyl records. It works by squeezing a quartz crystal and then channeling the resulting relatively high voltage off of a needle point to supply electrons to whatever is charged up and pulling in the dust particles.

  3. #3
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    I use "SPOTONE" or "Marshals Spot-all" liquids, though I have a hard time getting the color absolutely right. It seems the neutral colors kind of go cyan for me. I have better luck with the Marshalls for neutral. As to a brush I always use a 000 size sable brush but a perfect pointed brush is very very rare in my experience. If you find a brush that comes to a precise point that doesn't tend to bend at the tip, keep really good care of it and try to make it last a life time. I used to have a perfect brush but after 20 some years it was getting warn out and I began trying to replace it and the best I have found so far is an Arista pure Kolinsky sable 000. It doesn't have the perfect fine point but I can make it work. As to spotting color prints... I do keep some orange and blue but I find that most every spot can be covered in regluar neutral spot tone.

    To the dust problem in the community darkroom. Maybe you could talk them into letting you go in on a closed day and you could clean and clean and vacume and then repaint. Might help for awhile.

  4. #4

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    Another culprit is humidity, if it's very dry it wont matter how clean the dark room is. Try letting some water boil in the darkroom before you take out the negs and then blast them with air. I found the humidity to be my biggest source of dust problems on negatives and prints while printing.

  5. #5
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    Every time you squint your eyes to see that tiny 000 brush and those many little white spots, every time you twist your hands around that tiny brush, say to yourself all the reasons you cannot have a darkroom; that it is impractical, costs too much, you move about too much, the doors don't fit tight, the flat is too small. Some moment after the 1,732nd spot you will miraculously find reasons why and how you can do this thing that seems so impossible today. It will be that or you will stop spotting pictures and take up checkers, chasing Bugattis, or fly fishing. It is all about priorities.

    John Powers, a man who went forty years between darkrooms

  6. #6

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    I now use a Tetenal B/W Spotting Pen set, consists of 10 pens, from off white to black. Really super product very easy to use.

    Still have my brushes and spotting dyes, just can't part with them.

    You'll be surprised how much dust actually settles on the printing paper before you make the exposure. Everytime I place the paper under the enlarger I give the surface a quick blow with an air blower.

  7. #7

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    To be super cheap you can cut down a small cheap brush down to a couple of hairs, I find this works quite well. I think It's spot tone that I'm using. Which I think is dye ink , works on RC and Fibre paper very well.

  8. #8

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    Try putting an air filter in your darkroom, and get an ionizer.

    If you are going to spot tone, make sure you get a 00 brush made of sable, not the synthetic ones.

  9. #9
    mooseontheloose's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone - some useful suggestions here! I guess I'll probably go with the dyes and practice a lot on my many, many old work prints.

    John -- I appreciate what you're saying -- I've already been thinking about it having seen how cheaply enlargers are selling for here in France, but I'll be leaving the country permanently in 5-6 months so it's not worth the effort at the moment. However, wherever I move to next, I will definitely be looking for enough space to have a darkroom so I can have more control over these types of issues.

    rach



 

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