Day Three At Fort Onkaparinga

Day Three At Fort Onkaparinga

See yesterday’s column for the reference…

The cleaning of slides is a problem that I had forgotten in the last decade. Of course I’ve been tasked with cleaning digital files in that time – we’ve all sat there spotting out dots with Photoshop, Lightroom, or whatever editing program we use. Sat there and vowed to get the darned sensor cleaned, a new roll of backdrop paper, and to look more carefully to spot lolly wrappers on the ground in the landscape shots.

Digital spotting is a pain but I can assure you children that it is infinitely better than sitting there with a bottle of Spotone and a teeny brush trying to get the dot of ink to match the tone of a paper print. Even worse was the business of colour spotting – there was a reason that colour retouch artist ladies in wedding studios were valuable workers. The work itself hardened them, mind, and it did not do to annoy them while working or they would stab at you with an emulsion knife.


My efforts at cleaning make use of a fluid from FVE. it is mostly alcohol and other solvents and is the sort of thing that you need to use in a well-ventilated place. The bottle is confusing in that it seems to say you’re not to use in on the emulsion side of the slide, but if that is where the grunge is, that is where I wipe it. It works. Don’t smoke a cigar while using it. Soft cotton Q-tips are the safest applicators and wipers. Let us hope they do not become the subject of the latest panic buying…

The dear old Rocket blower and soft brush from the Giotto cleaning kits is a great help as well. We sell these kits for camera cleaning but they could equally well be used in the darkroom or digital workroom.

You might also get some of the canned air from the shop, though as usual, you need to use it with the can vertical to prevent a rush of liquid propellant being squirted out the nozzle. I was lucky to be gifted several cans of air that was touted as a gun cleaning aid. They were a fraud for that purpose as the muck that fouls a barrel, receiver, or action is far too adherent to be blown away with air, but they will shift dust from slides.

The last problem you get before scanning or copy photographing is caused by static. A dull, damp day is no problem, but a dry Western Australian day can see quite a build-up of charge. It attracts more dust and that just sticks harder. The best solution I ever found was a horribly poisonous and dangerous brush marketed in the 1960’s that apparently had a small amount of Polonium or some other radioactive element sealed next to a set of soft bristles. One brush and the dust was gone. So, possibly was your hair and the possibility of a family… I never owned one and can still comb my hair while talking to the daughter so I’m grateful for dodging that one. I do use a pistol-shaped accessory that has a piezo crystal in it which fires out ions when you squeeze the grip. It was fashionable in the days of vinyl records – I think it was the Zero-stat.

BTW…were you planning to copy out transparencies on 120 or larger film? or unmounted strips of 35mm film? Okay, Epson have you covered – but there are a number of other possibilities for that as well. More from the fort as the fortnight progresses.

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