Yes, that has always been a concern, but it is somewhat of a 'clean' workshop for electrical and model building projects. Model and engine building also requires a clean environment. With printing, my greatest prior challenge with dust has been to do 16x20s with 35mm negs, which requires a glass carrier. This IS very tedious but I CAN get it done in this environment.
Originally Posted by dslater
When projection printing (diffision always) the larger formats and not using the glass carrier, I really DON'T have a dust problem. I guess that is contributing to the frustration.
To quantify it better, when I put a neg in the carrier, sometimes there is NO dust, but most frequently there are a few specs that easily blow off or can be dusted off with on of my brushes. Infrequently there will be a dust spec from drying that is stubborn to remove. I would classify my dust as better-to-average for most darkrooms. I agree that isolating the room could improve that and its on the 'wish list'.
I actually stepped away from this project (other than posting here) for a good 48 hours and and now I am motivated to try a few things tonight. Based on all these posts I really feel that the solutions are 'right under my fingertips'
I analyzed the prints I have made so far and my thoughts are that most (if not all) the imperfections in the prints (the ones I made BEFORE I made those 'experimental' prints that I posted) are probably due to the glass and not dust.
The two things I intend to try are:
1) SINGLE sheet of the cleanest glass I have on foam under ENLARGER light
2) A heavy STACK of glass (4 or 5 pieces) on foam under DIFFUSED light
First let me qualify this in that I want to spend maybe one more day working this out before I got to the glass shop and get a nice piece of glass, or before I buy the B&S frame off the internet. Thats why I'm going to do the tests with materials in my possession.
In terms of glass I have about 25 sheets of 'framing' glass. I went through some of them and tried to pick the best sheet. This is all nice glass for framing, some has only been hung once in its lifetime, but, It seems like almost all of them have tiny imperfections in the glass (ones that won't wash off). I think I can find one that has a clear 8x10 opening (the glass is all 11x14 and bigger). In terms of finding the imperfections, they are hard to see on the glass itself, but when the glass is placed on a white piece of paper they show up pretty well as shadows on the paper.
In terms of experiment #2, the glass does not have to be perfect, or even dust free, as the diffuser will take care of that as I already determined. The goal in #2 is to really get some good pressure on the negative so that it will be as sharp as #1 above. I have already shown to myself that #1 above will yield a print that is visually sharper than one of my good 8x10 enlargements from 4x5.
I found a nice piece of foam and used a waste piece of film to see if I could get any residue from the foam to come off on the film and it did not which was comforting to know. The foam was a little dusty so I will try to clean it but I also will try using an upside down piece of RC paper on top of the foam. The thought being that I could actually 'clean' the RC paper, unlike a piece of cardboard or regular paper. Also, I think a piece of plastic would be a dust magnet. If I decide to go this route I will get a nice new piece of foam, of course.
Maybe this is obvious to you all, but the glass I initially was using was hinged to a heavy metal base with a raised edge so the following was not possible. Anyway, as suggested, the sequence would be to lay the glass down first, dust it, then lay the dusted negative on top. Turn the white lights out and put the paper on the negative, then the foam and what not, and carefully flip it over.
Well I'm pretty excited that I'll have some nice prints tonight and this thread will come to a conclusion.
I ain't ever seen things be this hard.
use the 11x14 size glass you don't want to try to line everything up with the 8x10. Framing glass may be too light so you may need to weight the glass down on the edges.
If someone ever needed...and I leave the rest to your imagination
Why are there no speaker jacks on a stereo camera?
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If you first clean the glass of the frame with a cleaner as I do, give ample time for drying.
Originally Posted by ic-racer
I then dust the glass and negative under white light with an anti static brush. I put the negative in the frame, check it again for dust, switch to safe light, take the paper from the safe, place it in the frame, put the back on, expose and process. I have no problems. Comes out as sharp as a contact print. Occasionally I have to spot one that got by.
In working with contact printing LF negatives I found I got sharper results with 8x10 and larger film sizes by using a vacuum frame. 5x7 and 4x5 were fine with a normal spring back glass contact printing frame.
contact print frame
Good Lord! Why is something so simple and so pure and so well documented by real experts (no, not Ansel) suddenly a math problem?
Dust? Crappy glass? Light? Dark?
Alas, ic-racer, I'm afraid your contact printing dilema requires only logic.
Geez, this is not rocket science...
light bulb, glass, paper and you are good to go.
If your prints are soft after you lay glass on top it is your error, learn how to focus better. If dust is an issue that is also your error also, clean you holders, blow out with air, load the film and place in plastic bags, simple done.
These are not math issues, these are user error issues.
Lose the math and get a bulb, glass, paper and good negatives and go print.
You need a good contact frame check out; http://www.pellandphoto.com/