Old Negative Care

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by Ray H, May 17, 2020.

  1. Ray H

    Ray H TPF Noob!

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    I have a large batch of 1920's large format negatives. They are abt 7 x 11mm. I took an insignificant one to experiment cleaning. I ran it under water and used some hand soap to clean it and rinsed it with water. After I was done I noticed that the surface of it was sticky and it seemed flimsier than before. It dried fine but has a tendency to curl. It came out just fine but the stickiness worries me. Has any one had experience with this and is it OK clean them this way? Is there a better way? Appreciate any and all comments and suggestions. Ray


     
  2. compur

    compur Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    7x11mm large format negatives? Do you mean 7x11cm?

    The stickiness is the gelatin in the emulsion. It absorbs water and gets sticky until thoroughly dried.

    There are commercially available film cleaning solutions easily found by search.
     
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  3. webestang64

    webestang64 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You might also want to use a Photo-Flo solution after the washing. Some people use a drop of dish washing liquid in about 2 liters of distilled water (not my first choice but it will work).


    Photo-Flo....
    Kodak Photo-Flo 200 Solution (16 oz)
     
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  4. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    That's what I was thinking, you could also try Home | Freestyle Photographic Supplies for supplies. I don't know if it would help but I'd probably try the one you already washed in the photo flo and see if that gets rid of the stickiness?

    If you need to get a darkroom tray large enough for the negatives they can be found fairly cheap. (Freestyle should have new ones, Pittsburgh Camera Exchange has used/vintage and on ebay their seller name is onlinephotostuff ).

    How dusty/dirty are these negatives? I don't do large format but with smaller format negatives I usually use a rocket blower, then as needed a Besleler dust gun. With that you using a quick sweeping motion down the length of the film/negatives, maybe a coupl'a three times. Not sure which is the better option for larger format. Search Results | Freestyle Photographic Supplies

    Then when they're dry put them in clear plastic sleeves made to store negatives. Any of the places mentioned, or Adorama, should have some.
     
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  5. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Why not just stick to actual film cleaner?

    [​IMG]

    It's available at Freestyle. 4 ounces will go a long way, just soak a Pec pad or similar lint-free cleaning cloth. I'd hesitate before soaking negatives that old and seeing a sticky problem like that. With a film cleaner like this, first use compressed air to remove surface lint and debris, soak the Pec pad and wipe carefully.
     
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  6. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I've never used that, but Edwal rings a bell - we have a winner!
     
  7. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    :) Edwal makes a lot of products, among them a negative "scratch filler" that is said to actually work. I have it, but haven't used it. But I have used this film cleaner and can attest to it.

    Of course, there are variables in how grimy and old the OP's negs are, leading to the bath suggestion. But with the sticky residue he described, I'd be inclined not to do that again until I tried another way.
     
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  8. webestang64

    webestang64 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    In a working lab that is called "nose grease". Used my natural fluids for decades printing scratched negs.
     
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  9. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The "nose grease" is a term I've heard before! Like I said, I've never tried to fill in a scratch before, naturally or with a product. I'm guessing it actually works? :)
     
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  10. webestang64

    webestang64 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Sure does. Helps I'm a greasy Italian/American. Edwal scratch filler does as well, I used a bottle way back in the 90's.
    Never used Edwal film cleaner, I've used Kodak's but it stinks real bad.
     
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  11. Ray H

    Ray H TPF Noob!

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    Marie Bobst driving, in front Joe Bobst, in back Leonard Zogg and dog.jpg I guess my greatest concern is the stickiness. I can clean them but am I ruining these great old negatives in the process. I have some pec 12 on order and will try that. A photo of my Grandmother behind the wheel. abt early 20's.
     
  12. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Whoa, stop right there - you've said negatives but this looks like a print. Are all the photos printed on paper like this? Then you can't do with prints what can be done with negatives. Prints are on paper.

    Don't get water on a print, at all, keep it dry.

    I don't know what soap may do but water will ruin the finish/the surface. But since these would have been done on light senstive photo paper and developed in photo chemistry, the darkened parts of the images are more or less permanent. They could fade in time but the image should mostly still be there and won't just rinse off.

    I haven't tried yet with old family photos but with my own B&W darkroom prints if just the surface (shiny part) got wet and damaged, I'd run it thru fixer (not water, liquid fixer); that will restore the gloss. But it would be a matter of if I'd want to try it with an older photograph or leave well enough alone. And you'd have to know how to 'fix' and squeegee prints, etc. This would be for 'modern' photos that used photo paper & fixer comparable to what is still used today, which could include the era of that car. There were other photo processes like tintypes that I wouldn't attempt running them thru fixer like I've done with prints on photo paper.

    This one looks fairly deteriorated but usable. Usually in restoration I think as little as necessary is done. I'd think about putting it behind a mat with an oval opening so you can see the cool car and them sitting in it, and not so much of the background where there's more deterioration. Or maybe a standard rectangular mat if you could place the photo to show mostly them in the car with the house and keep the roof and trees behind the mat. The good thing is the part of the photo with them seems in better shape than the trees, etc. in the background.

    Other than a blower to blow off dust, or maybe a very very very soft brush intended for this purpose, I'm not sure what else you can do. Of course you could scan them and make adjustments in photoshop (or whatever) to the digital copies and then reprint them for display.

    This one is certainly salvageable and not the worst I've seen. To me they're vintage and part of the history of the photos is the worn, faded look that gives the feel of the time period in photos taken long ago.
     

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