A lot of good tips in the above posts - here is my method:
I start with a stack of prints, a very small schnops glass with a drop or three of straight spot-tone, another glass (cowboy style, you know, the kind with hex cut tapered sides, the kind Gary Cooper would use to knock back a shot of rotgut) with clean water, with an eyedropper.
I go through the stack, spotting only the darkest areas, that match the straight (or nearly so) spot-tone. Then I add some water, go through the stack again, and hit the next lighter areas, as the spot-tone gets weaker, and so on till highlights are done, and the spot-tone is very weak at this point. So, very little spot-tone used, and when the strength of the tone matches the value in the print, the dark ring isn't a problem.
I also use a Windsor and Newton 00000 brush, the same one for the last 25 years, stored by taping it to the bottom of a small box so it can't get damaged.
I also keep a small wad of tissue paper in my left hand, to quickly dob excess.
I wear a pair of cheap reading glasses, +3 I think. They don't fix my astigmatism, but they work well for this.
I also use a cold light head, which minimizes dust spots to begin with, and my darkroom is in the basement, enclosed in it's own room, so not much movement, and humidity is never below about 40 degrees.
Ditto Thomas' suggestion re Printfile pages. The negs go in there as soon as they are cut down, and come out only to be printed.
If you don't have one like I do, I use an old white plate. Most of the time, spotting is punishment for not keeping my negs and enlarger clean.
Originally Posted by Mike Wilde
Here's from my spotting session.. It actually went pretty well once I had my magnifier set up and got my technique in order. I wouldn't say I enjoyed it, but I survived! Thanks for all the tips in the thread. They certainly helped!
(cell phone "photos")