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06-30-2019, 07:04 PM - 1 Like   #1
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What's happened to these negatives?

Not exactly a scanner question. I recently bought a photo scanner to save digital copies of old personal photos and slides. My fear was that they were deteriorating. Indeed, I found they are. I have attached a couple scans showing some of the deterioration Iím finding. The scan with the severe yellow discoloration is about 22 years old and the others are some years older. I am trying to figure out what caused this. I realize there is probably nothing I can do to reverse this change. Just to check, I took the negative to a photo lab and they see the same thing (so it is not with the scanner).

Some facts. I have stored these negatives in archival sleeves made by Print file and Vue All. I think they are the same company. The film I used is mostly Kodak. But, brand seems to have little relationship. Some negatives do not seem affected at all and others varying level. I am showing some bad examples. In fact, the original prints are doing better than the negatives. The odd thing is that I have some rolls of negatives still in the paper packets as they came back from the processor. They have been pretty much untouched since I got them back and they are close to perfect. Some are 22 years old and have lived in the same environment as those kept in plastic.

I have to think that the cause is the archive sleeves. All this time I have been thinking the best thing to do was to store them in these sleeves and now I find that I am losing this material. I think I may just go out and see if I can buy a bunch of scrapbooks with acid free pages and put all those negatives there.

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Last edited by agrolingua; 06-30-2019 at 08:09 PM. Reason: pic
06-30-2019, 07:36 PM - 1 Like   #2
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It could be the sleeves. I know at one time some sleeves advertised as archival were made from vinyl which releases hydrochloric acid over time. If your sleeves have become stiff or brittle, they may be vinyl.

The color casts could also be a result of bad processing which failed to stabilize the dyes.

That said, you might look into "ROC" (recovery of color) which is a program for getting some of the original look back. I don't know if it's applicable for negatives. I haven't seen much about ROC lately. It came with Nikon scanners of old and then was available through Kodak, but Kodak has gone through many big changes so you might have to do some research to find it if it still exists. Here's one link to some information on ROC (and there is some mention of another program for fixing old film woes):

Alternative to Kodak Digital ROC Color restoration: Retouching Forum: Digital Photography Review

Spotting will give you much more trouble since ROC was designed to work on an overall color cast and not areas. Hope this helps - good luck.

Last edited by Bob 256; 06-30-2019 at 07:43 PM.
06-30-2019, 08:11 PM   #3
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I could add that some of the photos (20+ years old) were processed in other countries, some third world. But I do not specifically remember which ones.

Last edited by agrolingua; 06-30-2019 at 09:02 PM.
06-30-2019, 08:53 PM   #4
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Yes, it could be from the processing - weak, old, contaminated chemicals or water. Insufficient rinsing or fixing or different preservatives to stabilize the dyes.

Edit: It could also be the cellulose acetate substrate of the film is breaking down. This releases acetic acid and in severe cases a sharp "vinegar" odor is noticeable. Hence the name "vinegar syndrome". Movie prints I've seen afflicted with this syndrome have a similar appearance to your examples.


Last edited by Not a Number; 07-01-2019 at 04:00 AM.
07-01-2019, 06:24 AM   #5
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Could be any of the points already mentioned or indeed a combination

Storage is another possible issue even in archival sleeves as temperature and humidity can have an adverse effect on long term storgage of film material.
07-01-2019, 09:28 AM   #6
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I can appreciate that environment can play a factor. What is perplexing here is that I have a number of packets of negatives that are still in the paper packets as they came from the lab. They have been stored in the same place, some the same age and almost all of them are near perfect (except one role that is in a sheet labelled COSTCO).

QuoteOriginally posted by TonyW Quote
Could be any of the points already mentioned or indeed a combination

Storage is another possible issue even in archival sleeves as temperature and humidity can have an adverse effect on long term storgage of film material.
07-01-2019, 11:15 AM   #7
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You can try the auto-tone and auto-color in either or both LR and PS, but there's a point where a really satisfactory fix just isn't possible. If that's the case, convert to B&W and fiddle with brightness & contrast, and do not neglect the color sliders after conversion to B&W.
07-01-2019, 03:54 PM   #8
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About 40 years ago I attended a conservation presentation at Toronto's Centre for Photography (I think that is what it was called, long gone now). Two pieces of information stand out in my memory which may be applicable here, I can't say for sure:

1. The yellow dyes go first.
2. Glassine envelopes were good for about 25 years before they degraded both themselves and their contents.

There would be exceptions, of course, depending on storage conditions (dark storage is always best; freezing is also possible); and I do have negatives stored in glassine which have survived that period.

07-01-2019, 05:21 PM   #9
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I have been thinking to toss the plastic sheets and put the negatives in something like paper archival envelopes. A quick search on the web and I found Gaylord Archival negative boxes. Something along that line.

I am not into a major project here, but if I want to restore some of the negatives I gather programs as Photoshop would be the ticket. As I am more a hobbyist would a program such as Photoshop Element be sufficient?

What does LS stand for? It was mentioned earlier.
07-02-2019, 06:20 AM   #10
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Photoshop Elements should be good enough for the job as would some of the free offerings such as Gimp which is Open Source editor
GIMP - GNU Image Manipulation Program

If you meant to type LR then this refers to Adobe Lightroom.
07-02-2019, 06:27 AM   #11
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Yup, meant LR

QuoteOriginally posted by TonyW Quote
Photoshop Elements should be good enough for the job as would some of the free offerings such as Gimp which is Open Source editor
GIMP - GNU Image Manipulation Program

If you meant to type LR then this refers to Adobe Lightroom.
07-07-2019, 08:51 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by agrolingua Quote
I have to think that the cause is the archive sleeves. All this time I have been thinking the best thing to do was to store them in these sleeves and now I find that I am losing this material. I think I may just go out and see if I can buy a bunch of scrapbooks with acid free pages and put all those negatives there.
I don't think it's the storage sleeves, Print File is a good company and specialize in long term storage of film medium.

I had a similar issue with cheap store bought slides from a trip in 1976. My Kodachrome slides I took on the trip are all perfectly fine, but the store bought slide were all badly faded. All of these slides were stored the exact same way in slide trays.

The film makes the biggest difference, as some emulsions have excellent long archival times. Kodachrome was always known as one of the best, but other Kodak slide film like Ektachomre were not.

Also negative film processing was not as strictly controlled in the lab like Kodachrome slides were, so where you got the negatives processed could also be the issue.

Phil.
07-07-2019, 09:57 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
I don't think it's the storage sleeves, Print File is a good company and specialize in long term storage of film medium.

I had a similar issue with cheap store bought slides from a trip in 1976. My Kodachrome slides I took on the trip are all perfectly fine, but the store bought slide were all badly faded. All of these slides were stored the exact same way in slide trays.

The film makes the biggest difference, as some emulsions have excellent long archival times. Kodachrome was always known as one of the best, but other Kodak slide film like Ektachomre were not.

Also negative film processing was not as strictly controlled in the lab like Kodachrome slides were, so where you got the negatives processed could also be the issue.

Phil.
Something similar happened to nearly all of my fatherís slides (taken with an Argus C3) that had been stored in a galvanized metal slide box. For many years he puzzled over why a couple dozen rolls of vacation slides remained fully colored. Eventually he realized he had used Kodachrome for the Ďimportantí documentation of visits to landmarks, but less expensive film for everyday shots.
07-08-2019, 06:10 PM   #14
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I don't think it is the sleeves either. Print File been using polyester and polypropylene forever - ANSI has even adopted their specifications as the standard for archival storage materials.

I'm not sure when polyester was adopted for still camera film bases but it wasn't until the 90s that saw wide-spread use for motion picture prints. Kodak only stopped producing cellulose acetate based films in 2013.
07-17-2019, 06:23 AM   #15
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It's not so much the color has shifted but the yellow in the negative (missing blue in the positive) has faded. Some scanning software has an 'old photo' feature where it tries to restore the image by putting some color back in it. You can restore a little by pulling the red and green channels down and the blue channel up. If the guy second to the end on the right has a white shirt, you can use that area to balance the RGB.

Last edited by tuco; 07-17-2019 at 06:55 AM.
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