- Use compressed air canisters. This is one of
the most valuable tips. The first time I started using these
canisters, that can be bought at any good photo shop, I was
amazed how effective these were. They remove dust very effectively
from negatives and equipment. You can buy these from different
brands under divers names like "Air Duster" or "Air
Power" or whatever.... My personal favorite are the "KenAir"
Air Duster canisters, as they have an excellent ventilation
system, giving a strong airflow with a light touch of the
button. Before I print any image, I use the compressed air
to remove dust from my negatives and the holding glasses of
my enlarger's mask.
By the way, if anyone can actually tell me what's
really in these canisters, please do send me an e-mail! I've
been wondering what gas it is (also considering possible health
issues - or not). It's definitely NOT compressed air (well,
I guess my hands would be freezing of if it really was a mixture
of 80% liquid nitrogen and 20% liquid oxygen I was holding
in a thin walled canister ;-0). I suspect it's something like
butane gas (the same gas as used for camping purposes), considering
the "highly flammable" warning sign.
- Make your vacuum cleaner your best friend...
;-) This may seem like a trivial notion, but working dust
free really starts with a clean working environment. Each
and every time I start using my darkroom, I take my vacuum
cleaner in and dust of my working surfaces. It just takes
a few minutes but is worth it. Don't forget to dust of the
easel that holds your photopaper! Any dust on there may end
up as a visible artifact on your print too when you put down
a new piece of paper for printing.
- Cover up all important equipment, especially
your enlarger and digital photo printer, with plastic bags.
Both my Durst Laborator 1200 enlarger head, and the 670 BW's
head, are under plastic bags that I refit after each printing
session. This avoids excessive dust settling on the optical
parts of the enlarger, reducing dust load and related issues.
My Epson R2400 is covered up as well... and scanners should
- Be very careful with your negatives. I used
to be pretty careless with my negatives at times. Especially
since 35 mm film has a wide transportation strip, you do not
damage it to easily. However, large format negs that lack
the perforation, have a much smaller area to hold the image.
The first time I discovered I was actually scanning my own
fingerprints, was definitely the turning point for me... Since
then, I only touch my large format negs using cotton gloves
and insert them back into sleeves immediately after printing.