I've just printed my first 4 x 5 neg's, and I'm discovering the joys of dust. I've done 35mm for awhile and haven'et really had a problem with dust etc., but now I seem to have all sorts of problems with my negs.
I read some stuff on spot pens etc. for covering spots and other problems in the finished print. Is that par for the course dealing with large negatives like 4 x 5 or should using spot pents etc. be something that's rarely done. I guess I'm asking if dust on the prints is normal or if I should be able to get better results with better practices.
How/where are you drying your negs?
It seems something has changed from 35mm to 4x5.
Moving to 4X5 compounds dust problems since each sheet of film is subject to more possibility of dust contamination. There are things that can be done to minimize the problem. I assume that you are speaking of dust on the film prior to or during exposure.
The measures include among others:
1. Check, and clean if necessary, your holders before loading film.
2. Attempt to make your loading area as dust free as possible. It seems that low RH makes dust more of a problem.
3. Store your holders in zip lock bags.
Even with pristine procedures dust will be more of a problem with sheet film. It is usually preferable to retouch the negative then to print a dark spot on a print and then bleach it prior to retouching. Retouch Methods (makers of Spotone) make a kit for retouching of negatives. There are other suppliers of these materials as well. I have heard of some photographers that use a fine point red Sharpee pen as their negative retouching material.
As an aside, in some instances with certain developers a stop bath will create pinholes in the negative emulsion. This will have the appearance of dust on the negative. I increase my stop bath dilution by double when using pyro developers.
If you are speaking of dust on the film after developing and when printing then that is another matter and should be fairly straightforward in corrective measures.
I think what I'm seeing on these neg's is dust on the negative. Some of this I was able to remove by blowing the negative off, some I think is stuck because it settled there during or shortly after I processed the negs (I was really just experementing with these, my first 4 x 5 negs to see if the lens/camera worked).
I also have some water spots (I think.) I'm guessing that I could rewet these negs in some sort of solution, maybe water, and then remove them.
I'm just getting ready to process another batch, and I plan to take much more care this time! My thought is to get them into sleeves as soon as I have them dry.
One of the most important things to remember when starting to dry negs is to raise the humidity in the drying area. If you are using a bathroom simply run the shower for a little while and that will add enough humidity. This will make the dust settle quicker. Use Kodak Photo-flo at about 1/2 strength as the final rinse then hang the film up and DON'T fool with it until it is dry. The Photo-flo will eliminate the water marks just don't use it to strong as it will leave a scum on the film. If dust gets on the film while it is wet it could embed itself into the film and then the film is ruined. I have never been successful in getting the dust out once it is on the film. Take your time and do it right. Good luck...
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Whenever I am handling film, I have my ioniser/ air filter running to create a positive pressure in the work area. The ioniser genuinely seems to cause the dust to fall out of the air, so it can be cleaned up with an anti-static cloth before work commences.
This procedure seems to have cured all of my dust problems when working with dry film. I can even use a glass negative carrier without dust problems.
Ok, laugh as you might, I do when I think about it, but I read an article that solved the problem for me. I moved to 6x6 from 35mm and had the same problem. The article said to hand it in the shower after you had used it and hang the film at a 45 degree angle. So in short, I would develop the film, have a shower, hung a coat hanger over the nozzle and clipped one end of the film to that and the other end to the curtain at a 45 degree angle. In fact sometimes I took a shower with my film, hung it up to dry then went to the pub! Silly, but it worked!
killing myself with laughter, just read the post I just posted. I meant hang it in the shower, not hand it!lol, I think only a Brit may see the funny side of that!lol
Better not to try to guess what could be the meaning of "hand it" for An average Brit... :-)
today I'm only 35mmm, but from thetimes when I worked on 6x6 I've learned one thing- it is critical to dry film in places where nobody is walking around. sometimes it was really difficult to block bathroom for so long time, so I started with evening developing ...
The things people do in showers !
Coincidentally, my new film trying “cabinet” is made from a shower curtain.
Basically, it is like the Durst film dryer, but without the headers, filters, fans and expense. The top is a 20 x 14 x 5 inch open wooden box with a plastic vent on the side. The bottom is a 19x13 (approx) wooden tray. The bottom tray fits inside the top to form a closed box. These two parts are connected with the clear PVC shower curtain which is wrapped round the inside of the upper box and the outside of the lower tray, thus forming a “tube” with the box at one end and the tray at the other. The curtain has opening on one side and is simply stapled on to the wooden boxes (its difficult to glue PVC). The opening is held shut with stick on Velcro strip. The top box is fixed to the wall and the bottom tray is free to move and hangs suspended by the curtain. The film clips hang from hooks in the top box.
When not in use the curtain and bottom tray are pushed up into the top box and held in place with a strap. This keeps the dust out of the internals, and tidies the place up. When in use, the weight of the lower tray (which hangs off the floor) keeps everything taut and spread out. In fact, it looks like a shower cubicle for a midget. The bottom tray also catches drips and can hold a seed tray heater as a heat source; although I have found heating is not really necessary.
Although it looks a bit naff, it works wonderfully well. The dust just loves to stick to the PVC and will do so in preference to the just washed (and thus static free) film. Any dust of the PVC can be wiped of with a damp cloth. Just keep the film away from the curtain (i.e. hang it in the middle of the internal space) and it dries dust free in a couple of hours.
Anything to keep the bathroom free…