Spotting is an easy skill to learn, and causes a dramatic improvement in the quality of prints.
I use either Spottone (no longer made) or Marshall's dyes. Both come as liquid concentrates. My preferred approach is to place a few drops on a plastic "pallate", allow it to dry, and then use a barely damp brush to pick up a bit of the color for application to the print. I use a plastic makeup kit as a pallate - so I am able to use the same drops of dye for many months. My bottles of Spottone are more than 25 years old and this point and I expect them to last me many more years.
By the way, an advantage of Marshalls over Spottone is that Marshall's comes in bottles with dropper caps, whereas you need to find a separate dropper for use with Spottone.
Spottone comes in six colors, and you mix drops to achieve a color that is close to the final image tone of the paper. I was in a workshop many years ago with David Vestal who said that the important thing about spotting is to eliminate the local contrast of a bright white spot against a darker background - if that objective is met, it hardly matters that the color of the spotting dye doesn't match the print color exactly.
I use distilled water mixed with just a bit of PhotoFlo to dampen my spotting brushes. The PhotoFlo eliminates surface tension so that the water doesn't form drops on the print.
The objective in spotting is to lay down tiny dots of dye - don't try to brush the color on, but rather use a stippling motion to apply multiple dots. You can blend in additional water to reduce the intensity of the dye - and it's a good idea to use a dye that is slightly less initense than required, and build up intensity through multiple applications rather than trying to match the gray tone of the print in one application.
You need a bright light for spotting, and preferably one that can be above and slightly behind the print - so that you see reflections of the brush on the surface of the print. If you have a very small spot to address, you can then see the brush AND its reflection - and bring them together at the spot.
You will also need magnifiers for spotting. I use inexpensive drugstore reading glasses - another Vestal trick. I get them a diopter or so stronger than my reading bifocals.
Finally, you need to practice - it's easier to do than to describe - something that becomes obvious as you do it.
Last edited by Monophoto; 10-25-2005 at 07:52 PM. Click to view previous post history.