Old Negatives

This is a discussion on Old Negatives within the Darkroom forums, part of the FILM PHOTOGRAPHY FORUM category; Old Negatives. By the lady's dress in one of the negatives I am working on it looks like these are approximately 100 years old. I ...

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Thread: Old Negatives

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Ludington, Michigan
    Nikon D3200, Canon XT, Canon EOS 5, Mamiya 6x7, Mamiya 645 and a full B&W darkroom

    Old Negatives

    Old Negatives.

    By the lady's dress in one of the negatives I am working on it looks like these are approximately 100 years old. I wish to scan them but they are pretty dirty and it looks like hypo stain also. I'm doing these for a friend of mine. I'm quite familiar with darkroom work but not sure about rewashing them since they're so old. In addition these are panoramic negatives and curled quite tight along the length (size is 3" x 11"). I have used my mat cutter to make a mask sandwich to hold the negatives in my scanner (Epson V550)

    The first negative I scanned is a double exposure so it looks like I can use it for a tryout. The rest look ok. I'll bet these old negatives have an ISO around 8 and the emulsion is old. The photos on these negatives do have some history value so This is why I'm asking for advice. I don't want to ruin them. I'm thinking about using a gentle dish detergent such as Dawn and a soft cloth and drying in a blotter.

    Thanks in advance.

    Bill br49431@yahoo.com

  • #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    First thing i'd do is google "film" or "negative restoration" or something similar and see if there are any specialists in this area. Contact them for expert advice.

    Given the potential age of the negatives, i'd be concerned about the emulsion detaching from the celuloid base. I dont think its a wise move to use any detergent and definately not a cloth that could leave bits of material residue creating further problems.
    Since you seem to have a test negative, perhaps soak it in a rinse tray along with a prescribed amount of wetting agent and squeegie in the usual manner, though i'd go with the google suggestion first.
    Does anyone know of photography forum's that people Actually reply/comment to postings???

  • #3
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Agree with Charlie; if you're near to a major museum, it might be worth popping in to see if you could talk to someone.
    Visit my website: John's Photography Comments and critique always appreciated.


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