Quote Originally Posted by Donald Miller
5. Check your film holders (if applicable). Dust can be a culprit as much as stop bath strength.
I'm sure it's dust, as I quit using K's Indicator Stop Bath when I went to pyro, and didn't resume when I came back to HC110. I just use filtered water.
Like all ULF guys I get some dust in the holders. I suck, I blow, I sweep, I fret, I anti-static, and then I go out into the field (literally) and get plenty of dust. We all do. The 90 year old holders are no better or worse than the 3 month old holders. Michael Smith has said something to the effect of "There will be dust. Get over it."
I contact print and the dust specks are miniscule, but ALWAYS occur in the highlights and clouds. [hard and fast rule of photography]
I agree that fiddling with a negative is risky business, but bleaching a black speck is tough, and the scalpel trick is too mechanical and roughs up the surface of the print. I haven't tried the Sharpie, but my experience with Sharpies is that they aren't very sharp--compared with an 0000 sable brush, for instance. I have a 5X magnifier and can lay down a very small bit of pigment. I just need to know the best pigment to lay down.
Thanks to all who responded.