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  1. #1
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    How do you manage to get negatives clean?

    I'm puzzled over my inability to print clean photos at enlargements over 10x. I can see and deal with large particles of dust. Proper dust is a problem I can handle. If I can see it, I can get rid of it. But sometimes I can't even see what's causing it. The latest 11x14 image I printed from 35mm had light flecks all over it, even though I could not see them on the light table through my 50mm lens-loupe. It's reasonable to conclude that I just couldn't see the little particles that were causing it. Attempts at cleaning the negative with compressed air and kimwipes, culminating in aggressive scrubbing with an isopropyl lens wipe, usually just herded the flecks around the negative. Now it's possible that the emulsion is damaged from the scrubbing. Should I buy some purpose-made Edwal negative cleaner? Rewash the negative in distilled water and photoflo? Get a microscope? Give up and spend hours spotting little grey dots all over my prints? Go over to the dark side? Stop printing 35mm so big?

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    Just for clarity, you are printing from the negative via enlarger onto paper on the baseboard?

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    I start with clean negatives, stored in glassine envelops (not plastic with static), I never scrub my negatives (yuck), before printing, I brush off the negative surfaces with a negative brush used only for this purpose, after mounting in the carrier I give a final small blowing with a can of Dust Off (or like product). I hardly ever have a dust spot on my prints.

    Are you printing in a dusty enviornment?

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    BetterSense's Avatar
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    Just for clarity, you are printing from the negative via enlarger onto paper on the baseboard?
    Yes

    Are you printing in a dusty enviornment?
    Not really, although it is pretty dry here. These aren't visible dust spots. I cannot see them through my loupe. They are very small flecks, and they do not print totally white, but rather a lighter shade of grey. They are only visible at large magnifications, and if you stand back a bit they almost disappear. But they are still quite visible from up close.

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    Bettersense,

    I sometimes have the same problem. I use an Omega D2 and when I see the white flecks in my prints I know it's time to take apart the head and wipe everything with my orange anti static cloth.

    Inayat

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    I think you'll find that if you hold your negs at an oblique angle in the light path from the enlarger you will see the dust flecks. When it's dry is the worst - static caused dust to be attracted to the film, and winter is the worst because of the lack of humidity. I've found I have to take care at every step of the process - and even then I can only minimize the dust. In the winter I'll often run hot water for a while before I start, just to settle the dust.

    If you could measure the white flecks on the enlarged print - imagine what size the original dust particle is! Too small for the loupe!

    Bob H
    "Why is there always a better way?"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    I'm puzzled over my inability to print clean photos at enlargements over 10x. I can see and deal with large particles of dust. Proper dust is a problem I can handle. If I can see it, I can get rid of it. But sometimes I can't even see what's causing it. The latest 11x14 image I printed from 35mm had light flecks all over it, even though I could not see them on the light table through my 50mm lens-loupe. It's reasonable to conclude that I just couldn't see the little particles that were causing it. Attempts at cleaning the negative with compressed air and kimwipes, culminating in aggressive scrubbing with an isopropyl lens wipe, usually just herded the flecks around the negative. Now it's possible that the emulsion is damaged from the scrubbing. Should I buy some purpose-made Edwal negative cleaner? Rewash the negative in distilled water and photoflo? Get a microscope? Give up and spend hours spotting little grey dots all over my prints? Go over to the dark side? Stop printing 35mm so big?
    *****
    Ground your enlarger; Use a Q tip dipped in lens cleaner. If you have enough dexterity, do what a guy with whom I worked did. He could hold the Q tip, unscrew the top of the lens cleaner bottle with the same hand, dip the Q tip, then screw the cap back. Claimed it kept dust out of the lens cleaner.

    For me, I just use an anti-static neg brush; look at the neg obliquely at the spill light. Dust not apparent by direct viewing often shows up that way. And sometimes you could the !@# dust actually settling on your formerly pristine neg. For bad problesms, nose grease first on the neg; then spotone and spit on the remainingdust specks on the print, if any. I am definitely low tech.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  8. #8
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inayat Noor View Post
    Bettersense,

    I sometimes have the same problem. I use an Omega D2 and when I see the white flecks in my prints I know it's time to take apart the head and wipe everything with my orange anti static cloth.

    Inayat
    I use an Omega C700 head, if that makes an difference. What kind of anti-static cloth do you have? I've been wanting a zerostat gun forever for use with my records, but they are so expensive anymore.

  9. #9

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    Sometimes that really fine dust you find at high magnification is particles from the rinse water, not dust settling on the film. Clean distilled water and rinse agent help with this one.

  10. #10

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    Even lower tech than John above, I never really found a cloth/brush/gadget that didn't leave something of its own behind.
    I can wipe off 35mm negs between two of my very clean fingers and do a better job than the cloth/brush/gadgets.
    Skin oil from my fingers is as good as nose grease.
    If that doesn't work, I've resorted to Edwal No-Scratch applied to the shiny side of the negative.
    It is a miracle elixir composed - judging from the smell - mostly of clear linseed oil. After printing you have to wipe it off with a soft rag before putting the neg in a sleeve.
    Eventually, printing in very dry West Texas drove me to diffusion and cold light enlarging to minimize visibility of the specks.

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