Retouching prints

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by etn, Jan 22, 2018.

  1. etn

    etn Subscriber

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    Hello Everyone,

    After doing some printing for a while, I realize that I am quite unsuccessful at keeping dust marks out of my prints. Despite my efforts to clean enlarger and negatives before printing, I still see a few white spots on almost every single one of my prints. So I was thinking, why not try to hide them by retouching? except that I am a complete newbie, never done it before. (Besides, I suck at drawing, but this shall not deter me from trying)

    I use a condenser enlarger with glass neg holder. I understand a glassless holder and a diffusion enlarger could possibly provide different results here, but please let's not start this discussion. I don't want to switch enlarger at this point, and glassless holders in medium format also have their issues (film flatness etc.) Besides, the model for my enlarger (Binema 66) cost over $100 a pair on ebay, c'mon!

    So in a nutshell,
    • I am looking into retouching B&W prints only, not negatives, no color;
    • I use glossy fiber paper (Adox MCC110 if that helps, I will also probably try the semi-matte MCC112 when I'll renew my paper inventory);
    • I do not apply any toning, so I probably don't need any fancy dyes. Black should be enough, at least for learning;
    • I will only retouch white spots of at most a few mm in size.
    • I do not intend to become a master retoucher, minimal edits is all I want to achieve.
    So where do I start?
    • Which equipment is needed?
    • What is a good source of information about techniques?
    • Or shall I just forget about it?
    Side note: other threads on this forum mention Katherine Gillis and her online course, which costs $450. Is it really worth it? It seems that this course goes much farther than what I will ever need for my purpose.

    Thanks for any information :smile:

    Etienne
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2018
  2. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    Try this, it's a great tutorial to get you started:

     
  3. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    The equipment needed is simple: an appropriate ink, a very fine tip brush, and a white saucer. Long ago in America the most popular ink was Spotone, which may be unavailable now. Dr. Ph. Martin's ink seems to work well. So may many other light-fast inks. The brush should have a very fine tip that doesn't lose it's shape in use. a drop of ink is placed on a raised area of the saucer. Several drops of water are placed in a lower area of the saucer. The brush is slightly wetted in the water and a tiny bit of ink picked up with the tip of the brush. Check the density of the ink mixture by touching the brush to a clean area of the saucer. If it looks about right, carefully apply it to the white blemish on the print. Removing too much ink from the print is difficult. It is better to build up the density of the blemish slowly with several applications of the ink than to try to get it right the first time. The brush should be damp, not really wet. Too much water in the brush can leave blobs on the print. If the ink dries in the saucer, no problem. You can pick up dry ink with a damp brush. There must be more detailed instructions online, but most of your learning will come with practice.
     
  4. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    To add what Jim has said. The Spotone inks came in different hues which could be mixed together. You can use a processed piece of the same paper to work out the precise tone you need before applying to the actual print and as mentioned it is better to build up. Wearing magnifying loupes also is a good idea. Brushes and white porcelain dishes should be available in an art supply shop. A 00000 brush should be the right size.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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  6. OP
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    etn

    etn Subscriber

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    Guys, you are simply the best! Thank you all!

    I looked at what is available in Germany, and indeed the Marshal dyes are available as a 3 or 5-dye set:
    https://www.macodirect.de/chemie/retusche/bka-marshall-spot-all-kit-retuschierfarben-3x-15ml?c=32

    Alternatively, I see that dyes exist in dry form:
    https://www.fotoimpex.de/shopen/ret...s-dry-pigment-sheets-student-starter-kit.html

    Does anyone have experience with those? I imagine they are easier to use, at the expense of some flexibility in tone?

    Thanks,
    Etienne
     
  7. OP
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    etn

    etn Subscriber

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  8. spijker

    spijker Subscriber

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    I also have a set of spotpens. Bought it on ebay many years ago. The ones I have are supposed to be the neutral tones but I suspect that the "warmtone" label/sticker was lost somewhere as they definitely have a warm tone to them in the mid/dark tones. @MattKing, is there any difference in text on the pens themselves to distinguish between the warm and neutral version? The pens work very well although it takes quite some time for the retouched spots to dry. But that makes it easy to wipe it off if you applied too much. These pens are my preferred spot tool. Unfortunately, they are no longer in production either.

    W.r.t the Marshall dyes, I find the Neutral Black not neutral at all but has a bluish tint. Some time ago I picked up a bottle of Diaphoto Dye-Lasurfarbe neutral grey when I was at the Fotoimpex store in Berlin. I haven't used it on prints yet but this is much more a neutral grey than the Marshall neutral grey dye. So Etienne, this might be a good product for you to start with.

    As for technique, I'd suggest that you apply the dye too light first and let the spot completely dry before applying more dye. There is a dry-down affect to spotting as well

    Menno
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2018
  9. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    That 3 or 5 dye set from Maco would probably see you out; they last that long. I assume they are the direct replacement (within reason) of Spotone. I have quite a few Spotone bottles, seem to pick them up here and there as darkrooms are cleared out.

    I would also agree with Jeffrey Glasser, the 00000 brush is really good, with a 0000 or 000 being useful for certain things once you get the gist of how to use one. I almost always use the 00000 brush. I also have dried up Spotone on my egg holder, I place a drop or two (literally) of water in one of the egg holders and dip the brush in to wet it, then drag the brush over the dried Spotone and dilute it to the required black or non blackness, check it on the edge of the print or on another identical piece of paper, then apply; ensuring the die being transferred is ever so slightly lighter. Repeat as necessary.

    It really is easy.

    A great help can be to have a board, say 70mm wide by 300mm to 400mm long with a 20mm spacer under each end, say 25mm in width. This board can be placed over the print and your hand can be resting on the board allowing you to spot somewhere in the middle of your print. You can of course wear gloves, but this method is also quite good. Similar to the rod with a rag ball on the end that sign writers use.

    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=...AUICygC&biw=1536&bih=714#imgrc=OV203sX3h9_OqM:

    Mick.
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Correct

    For the warm tone pens the package label itself, which is predominantly black, has a large white section with "Warm Tone" clearly printed in that section.
    There is no marking whatsoever on the pens themselves to indicate whether they are part of the Neutral set, the Warm Tone set or the Sepia set (I've never seen the Sepia set).
    Mine still have the price tags on the plastic cases - $26.74 each 10 pen set, from Glazer's Cameras several years ago.
     
  11. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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  12. mcfitz

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    I'm not sure if anyone has suggested using a head loupe, rather than a magnifying glass or thread counters loupe. I find the head loupe makes spotting far easier, more accurate and leaves me with less eye strain.

    Mine is quite simple, but there are some pretty fancy ones available, with lights attached.
     
  13. OP
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    etn

    etn Subscriber

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    Thank you Ralph! I even have the book, I simply overlooked this chapter... :sad:
     
  14. M Carter

    M Carter Member

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    I still have a Marabu spotting set, solid blocks of cool and warmtone. It'll outlive me and I've had it for 20+ years. Kind of the BMW of spotting dyes I think.

    But, nowdays I do mostly lith printing, so I've had to add a kid's watercolor set to really match the tones. The range of print colors I get is pretty crazy when it's time to spot.

    I use a big Edmund's loupe with the opening for brushes. Expensive but well worth it; I can go in and repaint grain, go beyond spotting and into more retouching.

    Some gum arabic is a big help with gloss papers, too.
     
  15. OP
    OP
    etn

    etn Subscriber

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    In a previous life, 15 years ago or so, I used to work as a hardware electronics engineer. I sometimes had to solder components under 1mm in size on printed circuit boards. Back then, and for that reason, I very much hated electronics miniaturization! I always found this kind of PCB repair impossible to do with naked eye - my hands would quiver (is that the correct word in English?) too much. At some point my company acquired one of those excellent Zeiss binocular microscopes offering 3D vision. Suddenly the operation became not only possible but rather easy - the quiver was gone too. The limiting factor is actually our eyes, not our hands!
     
  16. hoffy

    hoffy Subscriber

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    Hey Folks,

    Just going to dig into this again. I want to start doing some retouching on some prints. I have some Peerless dry sheets which I bought ages ago, but will be my starting point.

    Can anyone give me some advice on how to use them effectively? Also, as above, should I be looking for a 00000 brush to use with these?

    Cheers
     
  17. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I used somewhat larger spotting brushes. The quality of the tip is more important than the size rating of the rest of the brush.
     
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