Hello all question on film aging


TPF Noob!
Jan 27, 2013
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Hi all new here. I am an old timer who at one time played with developing and printing back in the 70-80's. Used several cameras but liked my Nikon best. I used both B+W and Color. I have since moved on to digital but I can see myself trying film again.
I take tons of pictures. When I was a young lad in the 60-80's I accumulated 1000's of prints several thousands to be exact. I used all types of film formats and manufacturers too.
My million dollar question....I did search here but either used the wrong search words or I am lame but I was not able to find my answer.
I have most of my zillion prints in albums. These stem from albums from all the same years I stated as well as 90's to date. My prints are getting ruined. I know there is a lot to this question but I will try to be as specific as possible.
I have changed out most of my albums from the 60-70's just because they fell apart. I do not remember when we knew about the pvc issue but when that was known I always looked for pvc free albums or refill pages. I started out in the 60's with Polaroid cameras namely the swinger b+w. I then added Polaroid color cameras had several (up to the ones in the late 90's) then added 124 cameras, 35mm and had a brief brownie experience and a couple of rolleiflex's (dont remember film size)
Most of my prints are Polaroid, 124, 35mm.

My Polaroid prints were mostly in paper window albums with nothing that touched the picture. A few were put in the pouch style pages bought in the 80-2000's. Most of the early color pictures got so dark they are all almost not viewable. I heard that Polaroid film from that period did not stop developing completely and did what has happened to mine. Would like to know more about this if anyone has info on this. I have to put these in new albums since most of the paper/cardboard albums have fallen apart.

The Polaroid b+w are all ok.

The Polaroid larger format pictures do not seem to have darkened but seems to have a color change. These are in the plastic pouch pages. Many of these have held up well with maybe a tad of darkening but still decent.

The rest of the prints are in the standard albums with pocket pages of different configurations. Many are Holson which I thought to be top quality. I guess one question would be when did the manufacturers know the makeup of their pages needed to be picture safe? Is this company one to trust. I need to find out why most of my pictures are almost beyond viewable.

I did have some no name albums years ago and when I noticed the prints starting to change I went out and bought a bunch of the Holson albums with hopes of stopping the damage. I have purchased refill pages as recently as a couple years ago. I need to see if the damage was done years ago or are they still eating themselves up.

It seems to be consistent with type of print when it comes to the damage. The 124 prints have all turned a shade of orange/brown and have darkened. A number of 35mm prints from the 80's have turned a shade of plum and darkened. All these were developed at commercial developers but none were those mail-away types like you found advertised in magazines. These mostly were done from drug stores, camera shops, and KMart from the 80's. I am sure a few were quick 1 day types and maybe 1 hour but not many. Most were 3-5 day waits.

The best prints I have are the ones from the late 90's to 2005 35mm store processed prints. After this I went to digital and do not print many anymore.

I say best guess 80% of all my prints are ruined. I have been able to scan some and fix them up in photoshop to where they look ok as a digital but I am hoping to stop the damage if possible so these keepsake prints can still be viewed even if they are not as they should be.

If I need to change out all these pages if I know that will stop any further damage I will.

Not sure if any of this damage is because of the developing, materials used, albums or a combo of everything.

My b+w prints that I developed and printed in the 70's and early 80's have a slight yellowing around the white borders only. The main body of the prints seem to be fine at least to my naked eyes. I printed mostly 8x10 of these and they are mainly in frames so I guess my work and materials used are ok.

I do have most of the negatives which I have not looked at. I may be able to scan them and digitize them but I am not sure of the negative quality. I shot so many pictures I used to just leave the negatives in the picture pouches the developers delivered the prints in. Not a very secure or good way to protect the negatives. Had I known I would have this issue I would have treated the negs like gold.

Does anyone here have any suggestions?

Color prints fade.

SOme of the other issues you talk about are due to poor processing, not washing enough, etc.

This is why fine art is done using archival processes which insure the life of the print. One hour photo places do not use these methods, or even some commercial houses.

Check out a company called Print file and look for selves and albums that are archival .

Also, negatives not washed properly will begin to silver out, break down. Color film also has a short life. Even black and white film that is processed in color chemistry (the c-41 type) wouldn't hold up over the years.
Hi ann thanks for the help.
I am sure my issues can be related. The one thing I think of my relatives that have a ton of prints like I do. They store them in an old toaster oven box maybe from the 70's. They just have all the pictures tossed in this big box. Mostly b+w but a fair number of older color prints. They all are fine! The one factor I know is different is they were never in a photo album like mine are. The b+w have some yellowing in the border like mine but their color prints are great. I am sure they may have degraded some but put them against mine and theirs look like prize winners. Remember the pictures I have that are damaged were all processed commercially.

I guess my zillion dollar question why are the prints that are just tossed in a toaster oven box fine when mine that are in albums ruined? I have done my best to keep them safe, temp and humidity factors when my aunt just had that toaster oven box in the basement with no dehumidifier or heat. I am clueless.

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