Friday, November 4, 2011


We live in a world with dust. Somewhere,quite some time ago, someone decided that dust was the enemy and we have been fighting it ever since. It tarnished our image of purity. So, devices like brooms, feather dusters, and air purifiers just to name a few were created to dispose of the particles.  When I was in college taking photography classes, dust on a print was unacceptable. I understand that the faculty was trying to teach us rigor  and dedication to the craft. I questioned a professor one day that Ansel Adams prints had spots on a lot his prints from dust on the negatives. No reply came. So Unless, I wanted to spend a lot of time fixing spots on a print with dye and a camel hair brush, I had to learn to keep the negative clean as possible. Today with digital photography and Photoshop dust is less of a concern but there is still a lot of money being made on removing dust from image sensors. Once, I scan an image on a flatbed scanner or negative scanner and it is turned into a digital file. Spots made from dust can be easily removed from digital images with Photoshop.
    The image below I made with my 4x5 camera, Printed on Ilford variable contrast paper, then scanned as is, opened in Photoshop only to resize the image for internet purposes.

Quinn. 4X5 Print 150mm lens f7.7 1/2 second exposure ISO 100 Film.

The question I pose here is, where does one draw the line on dust? What amount of dust on a print is acceptable in this day and age? I have looked and do not see many answers. Here is my opinion. Ha! You knew it was coming.
 The image above has dust on it. I have some control on the amount of dust on the negative. With the negative size of 4 inches by 5 inches, I can try to eliminate it but a certain amount is just going to be there. I can move dust particles from one place to another. By the time I get the negative into the the enlarger, dust  creeps in. I am certain dust is in the enlarger. There is no way around it. I have come to the conclusion that as long as it does not detract from the content of the image let it be.

Quinn. Enlargement from above image. This image was taken and printed with the same lens. A Kodak lens made sometime in the 1920's.

This lens also a Kodak made in the 20's.
This image is pure magic.