Besides Spotone and an excellent 10/0 brush, I find my clip on spectacle magnifiers (the English name, the German manufacturer gave this device) indispensable. A simple magnifying glass does not work as you need to see stereoscopic to exactly hit your spot.
EDIT: Just seen, Roger already gave you the advice
They certainly aren't as effective as the specialized magnifiers, but the "reading" glasses you can buy at many stores for very little money work well for spotting and camera repairs.
Just be sure to get ones that are more powerful than your existing prescription (if any).
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
That is a great idea (about the reading glasses)!
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
I think print spotters need something like a 12-steps program. I will be fine for a few weeks or months and then I will fall off the wagon. It starts with "just one or two spots". Then I find myself going through my recent prints looking for miniscule blemishes and next thing you know, I'm fixing the kitchen wallpaper.
Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada
Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points
system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...
The art of spotting is to know when to leave well enough alone. I use 99¢ 3.5 diopter glasses to spot under strong light, then change to normal reading glass strength (1.5 for me) to evaluate the print. If the spot is no longer noticeable at this point, it will be all but invisible at normal viewing distances, and I am done.
I've tried "spotting pens" on recalcitrant spots many times. In every case I've had to return to brush and spot tone inks.
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here is what i do:
Originally Posted by darinwc
In my experience, spotting pens are unlikely to be the best answer for anyone other than the folks who make spotting pens.
The best answer is to buy spotting dye in a bottle. Spotone is no longer made, but Marshall's has a line of dyes that is equivalent. You don't need all six colors unless you do a lot of exotic toning - start with the neutral dye.
My approach is to use some kind of pallette. I use a white plastic makeup container, but you can buy plastic pallettes at any art supply store. You will also need a spotting brush. A 4/0 artists brush is fine.
You first have to do a little preparatory work. For this Put a drop of dye on your pallette, and then smear it around with your brush to create areas of varying density on the pallette Let the dye smears dry. Put the bottle of dye away in a safe place (ie, where you can find it in a few years when you need to repeat the preparations).
Then, moisten your brush with a little water to which you've added some wetting agent. I have a small bottle of RO-filtered water (distilled water is OK) water that I've added a couple of drops of working-strength PhotoFloTo start on a print, choose a dye smear that is fairly light in tone. Pick up a bit of the dried dye on a barely-moistened brush. Using a stippling motion, apply a series of dye dots in to the area needing spotting. If the dye is too light, you can pick up more dye, or move to a smear that is darker in color.
Using a magnifier helps. I use high-diopter reading glasses from the drug store. It also helps to have a strong light positioned at an angle to the print. The most difficult part of the process is getting the brush into the right point in the spot on the print - a trick here is to look at the shadow of the brush cast on the print by the light. As you move the brush closer to the print, the tip of the brush will approach the tip of the shadow on the print. So simply bring the brush tip and its shadow together on the spot.
You don't have to make the spot match the surrounding area exactly - spots are intrusive because the eye automatically goes to bright areas in the print. So what you want to do is reduce the local contrast between the spot and the area that surrounds it so that it no longer appears to be bright.
A bottle of dye will last a very long time, especially if you use the dry approach that I've described. When you are done, put your pallette with its dried smears away for the next time you needs to spot a print. If you don't use your dried dye smears frequently, it is possible fhat you can get some mold growing on it (this may take several years to happen), If so, wash off the pallette and apply some new smears.
and remember, you can doubleup on glasses six eight ten eyes.
Originally Posted by MattKing
35mm negatives exaggerate any dust on a negative, especially enlarging to 11 x 14. To help avoid dust, I try to put my negatives into sleeves as soon as they dry after processing. Once dust gets on the negative, it is hard to get completely clean before loading into the enlarger. My 2 cents for what it is worth.
I like the pens well enough. The bottle is nice, but it take a bit of time to match the shades and blotting on scrap. Wetting the emulsion helps a lot during application. Small pricks onto the surface, don't drag the tip.
Other alternatives to minimize the dust that causes these white spots is to be really clean with your negatives, photoflo and dust free area when drying, cleaning your condensers(if you have them), cleaning your filters (if not built in), be careful when handling film and inspect negative carriers (if glass). Edwal film cleaner is good, and nose oil for scratches. They also make a no scratch, but I havent used it as I was concerned about putting anything onto the negative that I couldn't get off.