Little white dots on prints
New to this printing lar, i am getting some good results, but some of my prints have white flecks scattered all over it.
Logic tells me that there is something that is blocking light from the paper, i have cleaned negatives and enlarger carrier before I print (negs are new and enlarger carrier has been wiped and blown with compressed air).
Process of deduction leaves me to think it is something in the actual camera lens (but would it be so in focus?)
Most likely, despite you using compressed air, there still is dust on the negative. Ensure you really have dust free negatives when inserting them in the negative carrier by inspecting them under/against a strong light source. If necessary, use lint-free cloth or cotton gloves to carefully wipe any dust stuck to the negative of it. Blow any new dust of it using compressed air, after this procedure.
If dust stuck to the negative (this is only likely to happen with LF negatives, as 35 mm come straight from the dust free canister) during exposure in the camera, the dust can also be "in focus", but it would result in black specks instead of white, as there would be no or less exposure of the negative there.
Lastly, there is a small chance of dust on your enlarging paper during printing that may result in white specks on the print and that might show up. In my experience, this is less of a problem than dust on negatives, but ensuring a dust free working environment and enlarging easel, is always a good thing.
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Sounds like its time for a thorough wipe down of all your printing gear. Never use compressed air to remove dust. All that does is redistribute the dust. Antistatic cloths and an air purifier(small hepa type air circulator) will go a long way to preventing spots. Take your enlarger apart and wipe everything with a damp cloth, use a micro-fiber cloth to clean all glass surfaces. Keep your enlarger and all accessories covered when not in use. If you have use of one, use a HEPA filtered vacuum to clean the DR area, and try to vent it outside of the room. It doesn't hurt to run an extra ground strap from the enlarger chassis to a good grounding source. This time of year a humidifier might come in handy. Dry air creates static which causes dust to cling to everything. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" fits this situation.
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Sounds like dust on the negatives, happens to the best of us at times, you can brush, blow, clean the negatives as much as you like but the pesky dust spots will insist on sticking on some negatives,The best thing is a soak in an anti static wetting agent such as tetenal mirosol, or photo flo with a few a few drops of isoprypl alchol in it, that helps to at least reduce the dust on the negatives, but whatever you do it will happen from time to time, the other thing you can try is to get hold of an anti static brush, might help,but it happens to every printer, you need to learn to spot the prints,Richard
If you have dust or hairs on your camera lens at the time of shooting, the offending spots will appear as black on the final print. White spots on the print will be caused by dust on the negative, lens, or paper - If these are small and infrequent, spotting dye and a fine brush will hide them.
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It's very likely dust on negatives. Dirt on camera lens won't show up as white spots. How about re-soaking and re-washing your negative and while wet, use your wet fingers and very gentle pressure to wipe the surface, then photo-flo. Then dry it in a sealed container. I had to do this on one of my recent prints.
I've had good luck with canned air can (which isn't air but...) but if dust has stuck to the lens and then dried, they won't blow off... they are stuck to the surface.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
If the flecks are in different places when you make two prints of the same negative, then the problem is beneath the enlarger lens and you can stop troubleshooting everything back of that.
Spotting that is different from print to print without disturbing anything else may be chemical contamination of the paper. Long ago, I learned not to mix fixer from powder on the bench where I handled printing paper; now I don't even do it inside the darkroom at all.
The really critical check of the negative involves viewing it with light glancing off of he surface. You will be able to see even dust that is too small to print, and be able to tell if the white spot on the print corresponds to a black spot in the emulsion (chemical contamination before developing the film---developer dust---can do this).