DISGUST WITH DUST NEEDS TO BE DISCUSSED (not merely cussed)
Long ago, I learned how to blow... But before disclosing the fine art of this procedure, first...
I am fanatical, even maniacal, about dust. If I visit someone, I first seem to observe, by default, any thin layer of dust upon flat surfaces. I say nothing but it does mean something to me, at least subliminally. Almost daily I am on my hands and knees with a bucket of slightly soapy, warm water and a large rag scrubbing my linoleum floor in my tiny efficiency. (I hate rugs, which seem to be, oftentimes, too unclean for me.)
But with smaller stuff, like negatives in negative carriers, the assault must become more vital and compelling, because that image is going to be enlarged. If you feel that I am becoming too obsessed about this I invite you to do the following (and this is ESPECIALLY for the pros out there): If your camera has no film in it, open the back and remark to yourself how clean it seems. Now, under a strong light, with a magnifying glass, take a closer look. Chances are, it is truly dirty with dust. Moral: when you enlarge, you have an obligation to downsize your mentality and 'become', temporarily. as large as an insect so that you can see, first hand, how dirty life is at that subordinated level. Then, how do you truly get rid of dust?
Again, the art of blowing correctly has been learned by me, long ago. Merely blowing dust becomes an exercise in frustration because of two factors: 1) saliva going along with the air and 2) anchored dust particles remaining stubbornly intact because of static electricity. I do the following: first, dry your inner lips with a clean tissue so that NO saliva can exit your mouth. Then, do the following SIMULTANEOUSLY, blow (about 6 inches away from what you are blowing) while using a camel's hair brush to quickly dislodge what stubbornly wants to remain behind. The combination of both the wind and the dislodging, AT THE SAME TIME, prevents any dust from remaining behind. Finally, quickly, before any airborne dust gets a chance to settle anew, remove the clean item from open air exposure. This means putting the negative (which was already in its carrier) quickly into the enlarger after removing dust from BOTH sides in this way, or quickly closing the 'camera back' after cleaning its film chamber, or thoroughly cleaning reusable 35mm cassettes, inside and out, including the felt trap, before putting them into film cannisters for clean safekeeping. - David Lyga
Last edited by David Lyga; 02-22-2012 at 04:15 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I use a vacuum and a 1300 CFM air cleaner. You may argue that the smallest particles will come through the filter of the vacuum, but at least they are 6 feet away
Yes, a tiny vacuum would be ideal but not all of us have that. Also, a slightly damp cloth works wonders but, of course, not on film. All should occasionally wipe their negative carrier and the back of their cameras in this way, as the dampness attracts the dust. - David Lyga
Exhausting the air from a vacuum cleaner outside the work space is one way to reduce the disgust with dust. It can also be cheaper than a psycotherapist. :-)
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Sheesh, and I thought I was OCD! I keep a small air purifier with HEPA filter running in my DR. I damp wipe everything about once a month anymore. I vacuum the floor at least a couple times a week though, I hate debris tracking in. I also keep my enlarger covered when not in use. My negatives get a light dusting prior to use, dust is pretty well under control in my cave.
What is a master but a master student? And if that's true, then there's a responsibility on you to keep getting better and to explore avenues of your profession.
Just keep an air cleaner running in your place. I have one in my darkroom running constantly. A diffusion enlarger instead of a condenser enlarger is apparently helpful too.
I use some canned air and I view the carrier and negatives with the light at an angle (that way they "light up" and are easy to spot), works very well.
I do use a damp microfibre cloth on the enlarger, carrier and easel now and then though, to get rid of any stuck particles, then I blow before inserting the negatives.
I haven't cleaned my film backs yet though, thinking that any grit large enough to cause scratches must be visible and any dust particles will be washed away during development anyway. (but I probably should ).
You would be VERY uncomfortable in my home, unfortunately.
Originally Posted by David Lyga
I blow dust off of my equyipment and onto the floor an dsurrounding surfaces using a sqeeze bulb. My favorite is an infant nasal aspirator bought for cheap at the corner drugstore. Ususally that is sufficient and a brush is not required. Instead of a brush I've been known to use a hankie on occasion... but that's not recommended.
What I do and don't:
- I don't clean my darkroom very much.
- I don't clean my film backs/camera bodies very often.
- I don't use an air cleaner in my darkroom.
- I NEVER vacuum clean since it stirs up more dust than it catches.
- I use compressed air to clean the film and the neg carrier before it goes in the enlarger.
- I store my negatives in archival and air tight (dust free) clam-shell binders (this helps a lot).
It is very very rare that I actually need to spot more than two to three spots in a print. I believe this is because I don't stir up any dust and because of how I store my negatives, for the most part.
The antistatic devices Max is referring to seem great too, but so far I haven't needed any of it.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh