Dust Demons

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I am curious to know what measures people have had to go to in order to eliminate dust from negatives when printing. This is a constant battle for me and it isn't helped by my perfectionist nature. I can brush, blow (before you say it, not with my mouth) and curse at negatives and dust will still appear where it wasn't 15 seconds ago.I have cleaned the enlarger out on several occasions and cover it between uses. I clean contact printing frames regularly and practicly between each print. I have heard that it is a good idea to ground your enlarger but I am unclear what this does for me. I am looking for the definitive solution folks! Thanks in advance.

-- David N. VanMeter (vanmet@ibm.net), June 19, 2000


I've found humidity makes a difference. I print in the bathroom and find dust problems are substantially reduced if I run the hot water and kick up some steam which seems to settle the dust. A humidifier or vaporizer might act similarly. I think grounding the enlarger would serve to dissipate any static charge that accumulates. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (ndhanu@umich.edu), June 19, 2000.

Short of printing in a class 1 cleanroom, about the best you can do is buy one of the wall mounted dust filtration devices. Honeywell makes a nice one for about $165.00; available at Wall-Mart. There are other manufacturers as well. You might want to buy two. One to mount near the enlarger and one close to the door to your darkroom. You probably will not be able to eliminate every spec of dust, but these devices will help get rid of the big stuff.



-- Jason Kefover (jkefover@york.tec.sc.us), June 19, 2000.

David I don't think we'll ever eliminate dust completely from our negs. The first problem is reducing the dust that settles on drying film and for this I use a Durst UT100 film drying cabinet (I don't heat dry just let it dry naturally), but what ever you use you must make sure the film and the area around the film is not disturbed by air movements whilst it dries. Next cleaning the neg, carrier, I use a double glass carrier so those extra surfaces are a nightmere to keep clean. I clean the glass with propan-2-ol (iso-propyl alcohol) this also helps to remove moisture from the glass surfaces preventing Newton rings. I use one of the microfibre lens cloths to give the glass a final polish to remove any smearing. Then I give a quick wisk with an anti-static brush, in goes the carrier and while still open I give a quick blast from a can of compressed air. Before I insert the neg. I give it a gentle blast of air from one of those hand bulb types the can of air would be too strong and could blow the neg. out of your hand. Stuck on the side of my enlarger I have a double anti-static brush (Pro-Co RM2000) through which I pass roll film but it's a bit small for the 45 negs. Another thing to remember is to use an air blower on the enlarging paper just before exposure you'll be surprised how mush dust is CONTACT dust. Have fun, regards, Trevor.

-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@uk.dreamcast.com), June 19, 2000.

I really agree with the comment above about humidity. When it gets to summertime in Baltimore, humidity capital of America, my dust problems evaporate, to return in the dry winter weather. I've also begun running hot water in the darkroom to up the humidity, which seems to help. I bet a humidifier would go a long way toward solving your problem.


-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), June 19, 2000.

I've been using a 4-inch Kinetronics anti-static brush for a few months, and I find it quite effective.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), June 19, 2000.

.I think the above are all on target. I went 4 plus years with no dust problems. Then all of the sudden it started this past winter(dry Colorado) and just keep getting worse by the day. I thought I had film problems it got so bad and I really had NEVER had dust problems. I was very discouraged and started doing a lot of calling for help, you would be amazed at the methods that are use to solve the problem. For me the Humidity was the best answer. I noticed almost instant results and things got back to normal. But I was interested in prevention and one recommendation came from a gentleman in AZ. It seems they fight this more than most. He suggested using Dryer Sheets to dust everything with (Clothes Dryer Sheets) and he suggested putting them in the bottom of my equipment bags. I was very reluctant because of the greasy feeling of the sheets and the concern of spreading it all over the Darkroom and my equipment. This has not been a problem at all and I think it helps! I work in and around very very fine dust all the time and I had to dust equipment all the time to prevent contamination. Sometimes every day. I now do less dusting and change the sheets out everyother week and they look almost black when I throw them out. I am now curious about the new Dusting Sheets that are being pushed (TV Adds) right now. But I keep forgetting to try them. One other item I would like to touch on is that you need to remember to rotate your anti-static brushes out (I rotate them every 4 months) as they loose their punch after a while. There is a very noticeable difference between new and used. I keep the Old one for heavy dirt and the New one for Fine Cleaning. This is an Old Topic but a Darn good one and one of the more important

-- R.(Mac) McDonald (rmacsteam@aol.com), June 19, 2000.

Hey, never thought of Dryer Sheets. But what about this? Do you guy's down there in the USofA have the "Swiffer" - it's some little miracle duster/cloth that they advertise with neausiating ads - S..S..S..SWIFFER!

BUT, these things are supposed to suck up the dust like cazy. I think I may make my way to Walmart (yep, Walmart has even made it to the sub-arctic!) and buy a pack and try them out.

The atmosphere here gets incredibly dry, especially in winter. May do the trick as well. But I think I'll try those dryer cloths too.

Tim A

-- Tim Atherton (tim@KairosPhoto.com), June 19, 2000.

That's the one, I couldnt think of the name. A lot of good thier add did on me. :-) I would hope that they don't have the greasy feel that the Dryer Sheets have. But like I said I have not had any problems so far. Maybe someone can tell us whats in the darn things, To make them work. Oh one more thing my bags sure smell a lot better!

-- R. (Mac) McDonald (rmacsteam@aol.com), June 19, 2000.

I agree that most dust problems are really static charge problems, and brushing will actually attract more dust. There's a simple, very low tech solution. After brushing the surface (neg or glass) just breathe over it, before using the air blower. There's enough moisture in exhaled air to create a discharge path for static electricity. A sheet of 10 x 8 inch glass can leave you a bit breathless, though, and I hope you don't suffer from Asthma!

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), June 21, 2000.

I don't do my own printing but load sheet film. I had bad dust problems but have nto had one since I started using a HEPA filter in the small room that I load film in. I first wipe the dust off of the counter and floor with a damp cloth. Next I turn the filter on for about 15 minutes ing the 6x8 room. Then I will enter the room & close the door & let the filter run for another 5 minutes while blowing each film holder with a blow brush and then load the holders. The holders are inserted into Zip Lock bags and pulled out for use. No dust problems since using these procedures.

One more thing. The HEPA filter I have is a cylindrical Honeywell Enviracare. It has a major drawback in that the filtered air is directed down out of the bottom of the unit. This kicks up any dust off of the floor. If you do get a filter I suggest purchasing one which exhausts the air at the top of the filter.

-- Guy Anderson (guymanderson@msn.com), June 24, 2000.

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