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Eastman Kodak Etching Tool Outfit

Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, New York, USA

lead diameter
production date
photographic etching and retouching
2 mm
twist lock clutch
wooden barrel, metal clutch, bone cap
circa 1900

see also A.W. Faber retouching pencils
Vemco TEC retouching pencil kit
A.W. Faber Artist's Pencil
This Eastman Kodak branded "tool" is actually, I beleive, a custom imprinted A.W. Faber Artist's Pencil leadholder packaged with special blades for photographic etching.

Box reads:

PRICE $1.00
Trade Marks Reg. U.S. Pat. Office - K [P?] 1904

Retouching Photographic Negatives with Graphite Pencil

The following is an edited exchange that took place on a photographer's newsgroup:

When I was learning negative retouching we used a 2B and 4B lead in a clamp style mechanical pencil.

We covered the base side of the negative with a thin coat of retouching fluid. We put a couple of drops on the neg and then moved it around with a cotton ball. (the Conservators are now having heart palpations, but that's how we did it) after the laquer dried (a few seconds) we could fill in the the shadows with pencil, usualy in a gentle sweeping motion with the pencil held at a near parallel angle to the neg. (which was on a light box) Once the penciling was done we sprayed it with laquer again.

Les Newcomer

The Adams Retouching Machine

There are several ways to retouch sheet film negatives. They all amount to adding density or removing density.

Adams made a device that was a small vibrating light box that helped with the "stippling" action with the retouching pencils. This lead application method worked well on the base side of negatives.

For pencil retouching on sheet film Tri-X, you're in luck because there is a retouching "tooth" on both sides of the film. This tooth is simply a gelatin overcoat that is textured so the pencil has a micro-rough surface on which to adhere.

The fluid that Les mentioned is Kodak Retouching Fluid. I'm both embarrassed and amused that I could put my hands on a bottle of the stuff within ten seconds of reading his note! This fluid puts a tooth on smoother films (like Plus-X) and is (was?) also used to remove the pencil if one went too far with the retouching.

An "abrading tool" can also be used on the base side to eliminate pin holes (caused by air bells on the emulsion surface during development), etc. This tool is basically a tiny needle point that's used to carefully "prick" the base surface to raise the gelatin, which in turn refracts the enlarger light to eliminate the black spot in the print. (Whew!)

Another negative retouching technique is to abrade or etch away the actual emulsion. A special tool (like a tiny ice scraper) is used to carefully shave away the emulsion to reduce the silver density. Dating myself once more: I actually had an assignment at Brooks Institute in which we had to intentionally shoot a portrait with the hair light set too hot on the subject. We then had to shave away the dense emulsion on the negative to make the hair print properly. Coming from a long line of musicians and architects, my eye/hand skills are decent so I did a pretty good job with the retouching. Nothing like having obsolete skills!

Lastly (at least in my post) is Kodak Abrasive Reducer. This is like automotive rubbing compound and works the same way. You rub the paste on the emulsion side to "wear away" the silver thereby reducing the density which makes those areas print darker.

Dan Burkholder
www.danburkholder.comLink Opens in New Window