Little brownish spots


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Jul 7, 2003
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Portland OR USA
So the first day I was back in the darkroom to print in about 10 years (this was about a month ago) I had several prints where I was getting little brownish spots on them. Now I know it wasn't a washing issue, because I noticed the spots on one of them while it was in the stop bath. So I'm thinking maybe I got some fix or one of the other chemicals on my hands, and then onto the paper when I pulled it out to expose? Thoughts? Other than keep my damn hands out of the chemicals and remember to keep em clean?
Hello oriecat

...this can be caused by unfiltered wash water (minute bits of rust) - but you note it was first seen while prints were in the stop bath

You probably answered the question yourself: chemical contamination somewhere in the work flow

I will presume you use a different set of tongs for each bath: the wrong chemical on the tongs at the wrong time in the development process can leave strange spots and marks

Did/has the problem reoccurred?

Here's a useful link for trouble shooting those annoying problems with print results:


Thanks for that link, e_! Yes, I have seen the spots a couple more times, and it is usually on the edge on the print, so I think it must be a finger issue or a tong issue (altho separate tongs are used, so maybe not). I think I will hit Goodwill and pick myself up a supply of clean towels to keep with me. Can't trust the ones provided, tonight I couldn't even find one.
...thanks for your feed back, oriecat

While public or shared dark rooms are a godsend for those without the wherewithal to run their own - they have drawbacks

My pet peeve is the roller-dryers ... and people who don't wash their prints thoroughly before using them

I've lost count of the times that prints (lovingly laboured over) have been screwed up



While towels or paper towels are a nice idea that will help, another thing that helped me tremedously was washing my hands in the water after each time i put my hands through the chemicals, and drying after watds
I haven't had much experience in the darkroom (only one semester at the community college), so I probably don't have room to speak, but I had a problem with spots on the edge as well. They may have been brown, but I don't recall. I simply stopped touching the prints with my hands (unless absolutely necessary) and started being extra gentle with the tongs. That seemed to solve it.
Awesome quote, shutter bug!!! :D

Thanks for sharing your experience. I still need to get those extra towels and just be more careful. So did you not hand the paper with your hands at the enlarger even, or just real carefully there?
Thanks! It really sums up why I love photography so much I think.

Yes, I did handle the paper at the enlarger, just very carefully. Also, I remember another problem I had at one time. The safe light leaked, and it would make spots on the edge of the paper where my fingers had been as well. I don't know if that would cause them to be brown though. It's an idea. And I guess it's probably an obvious thing that you've already checked, but your chemicals aren't too old or by chance contaminated are they?
No, I don't think so. I use a community darkroom and I think they do a good job at keeping it all up to snuff. So I don't have any control there anyway (unfortunately and fortunately. :D)
In high school, there were always finger prints.

In college, there were always finger prints and tong marks ;)

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