In the film scanning world, dust is one of our biggest enemies. Thankfully, there are strategies that we can implemented to minimise dust in our respective workflows. This will reduce frustration and ensure great results, saving us precious time in post processing.
The most important starting point is to actively minimise the opportunity for your film to be exposed to dust. This is a more substantial issue for home developers because it's important to dry your negatives in a clean, dust-free environment. Many photographers use their shower as there is less suspended dust in the air while others make use of dust-free drying cabinets either purchased or self-constructed. Paying attention to the drying step is important as dust that dries onto your negative is very difficult to get rid of. This is a problem that is easier to prevent than to cure. Be sure to take down your film as soon as it is dry, as the longer you waits, the longer it will accumulate dust!
Often lab developed film is relatively dust free and stored in a sleeve or dust safe package (assuming you make use of a good, professional service!). As camera scanning is much more efficient when rolls are left uncut, be sure to make a note of this at your local lab. Be vigilant during every step of the process. Follow our dust management protocol below, you can also watch the video on youtube:
1. Always dust and wipe your scanning surface before you get started, you may choose to wear cotton gloves if you want to be extra careful with finger prints, but make sure they are clean and relatively dust free.
2. When you are not handling your film, and you put it down on a surface, make sure it is coiled up and always put it on its side instead of with the image surface sitting on the desk.
3. If you have it, pass the film through our VALOI Duster, a wonderful tool to help clear dust and other particles like hair.
4. Make use of a rocket blower to blow the frame before taking the shot.
5. Place your cut film strips in a dust safe negative sleeve.
Remember, fresh (unexposed) film is a perishable product and has an expiration date. Film can be kept at room temperature until expiration, but like fresh produce, will last much longer in a fridge, and indefinitely in a freezer. Develop your film immediately after shooting, it may be stable for some time but after extended periods, the images might fade. Well stored negatives can have an archival life span and will last for decades. However, in general film emulsions are very sensitive to scratches and damaging oils from the skin on our fingertips. Film should always be handled with care, and you should avoid touching the image area. Be sure to store negatives in a dust free, dry environment and, that way they will deliver excellent prints and scans for decades to come.