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  1. #1

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    On spotting (or not)

    I have been tempted to participate in different print exchanges, but have been hesitant to do so for the following reason: I have several prints I am (very) happy with except for the presence of minuscule white spots that are not really noticeable when holding the print at arm's length, but which become apparent once you inspect it a bit more closely. I have tried spotting my prints, but the spotting also becomes apparent once you look at the print in detail. My wife says I'm being paranoid about this and should get over it, but getting "over it" does not remove the spots that flaw the prints. Am I the only Apugger incapable of producing absolutely flawless prints, or is a certain degree of imperfection deemed acceptable?

  2. #2
    lee
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    no you are not the only apugger incapable of producing absolutely flawless prints. buy a 0000 brush at an art supply and practice on rejects and soon you will be able to spot like a pro.

    lee\c

  3. #3
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    I was once asked by a bonehead darkroom clerk (local rental place) why I wanted my test strips "archival". The reason is that they make great test strips for testing out combinations of different dilutions of Spotone (or Marshall's). Save your test strips...test your spotting technique there first.

    Like Lee said, use the smallest brush you can (I use a 5/0) and IMO the shortest brush...greater control. Use a drybrush technique (dip the brush in the tone, wipe off most of it, use as little as possible...you can always go back later)

    Let that print area dry in between applications. You can always go spot in another area.

    Good lighting & magnification are helpful. You might try spotting using an Opti-Visor...a jeweler's visor. The downside of using one is that EVERYTHING seems to need spotting!!!

    Good luck!

  4. #4

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    I have never had a dust free LF print. I'd love to know how anyone manages such. For MF, oil immersion rules.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjstafford
    I have never had a dust free LF print. I'd love to know how anyone manages such. For MF, oil immersion rules.
    Could you please explain what you mean by oil immersion?

  6. #6

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    I use a Dick Blick Pure Kolinsky Sable #2 brush. It goes to a very fine point, and I have to re-dip the brush much less than with a smaller brush. Magnifiers on an articulated arm are very helpful. I have a 2x model, and I would prefer greater magnification. The biggest mistake beginners use is to use too wet of a brush. In addition, make sure that the first application has been completely absorbed before trying to add more density to that particular spot.

    Btw., I prefer dilute india ink to spotone.

  7. #7
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    I use a 5/0 artists brush with Spottone. I put a few drops of the Spottone liquid on a pallate and allow it to dry. As I use the Spottone, I create additional puddles of the dye that are diluted more and more to be lighter in color. Then, I use a barely damp brush to pick up a bit of the appropriate shade of dye to apply to the print.

    The pallate that I use is a plastic container that originally held makeup. I threw away the original contents and washed it out thoroughly before recycling it. The advantage is that it is small and has a closure. I only deal with the original Spottone liquid every two or three years - the rest of the time I used the dried dies in the pallate.

    By the way, it's helpful to put a bit of Kodak Photo-flo in the water that is used with the dyes - the Photo-flo breaks down the surface tension in the water and prevents it from puddling on the print. As Peter has noted, however, the real secret is to use as little water as possible - the brush should be almost completely dry.

    A trick I learned from David Vestal is to use drug store reading glasses as magnifiers. You can get more expensive magnifiers, but reading glasses work just as well, are much more convenient, and the price is much more attractive. I wear bifocals, and I find that the magnifiers have to be at least 1 diopter stronger than my reading glasses to really be effective. By the way, there is such a thing as magnifiers that are too strong - you don't want to spot the gaps between the grains of silver in the image.

    You need a strong, directional light. I picked up a fluorescent drafting light at a garage sale a number of years ago for my son to use as a desk lamp in college. He took it with him his first year, but then found that he rarely used his desk, so I took it back. It works great for spotting. The reason you want it directional is that when you are doing very precise work, you want to be able to see a shadow of the brush on the print - you move the brush toward the print until it and its shadow come together at the spot you are working on.

    Another lesson from David Vestal is that you don't necessarily need to make spots go away altogether - what you do need to do is reduce local contrast to the point where the viewer is no longer distracted by the spot.

  8. #8
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    I use Windsor Newton finest Sable series 7 #2 size
    these brushes last for years and as well I have purchased reading glasses from the drugstore as advised above , works real well.
    Spotting is a bit of the art of camoflage. you do not have to completely remove the spot or line just fill it in a bit until the eye cannot see it. It takes time to learn , and only by practice. I cannot imagine how anyone gets away with not being able to spot.

    Do not try to eliminate the spot in one go , build up slowly and come back to the spot if you have to . I use a bigger brush than others and I charge the brush with spot-tone and then let the dye drop into the point. A good brush is very important. I do not like the small nose hair style of brushes as the dye should drop into the print from a very well shaped point.

    The series#7 brushes keep their point very well for this purpose.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by micek
    Could you please explain what you mean by oil immersion?
    It is also called Wet Gate in the mopix world where I learned of it at Collumbia College back in the dark ages. Frankly, I only used it in 35mm on a job. Later I tried a few anti-scratch solutions with only modest success. Nose grease works just as well for 35mm. Wish I could find a MF (6x10cm) version for stills in the Leitz IIc. Any help in that regard would be welcome.

  10. #10
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    I am curious if anyone shoots with spotting in mind? For example shooting scenes with high texture subject matter which would easily mask any print defects. I shot a tree bark detail in 8x10 yesterday. One of my thoughts when looking at the neg was that if there are any imperfections they will be easily blended within all of the textures. I have had probems shooting clear skies before, and imperfections showing up in the light values. I'm not saying I plan to shoot all of my work based around subject matter that makes it easy to avoid spotting, but it does come to mind sometimes..

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