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Negatives degrading after 10 years, or, what the heck are these spots
Old 08-19-2019   #1
Takkun
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Negatives degrading after 10 years, or, what the heck are these spots



As I've been doing for a while, going through and scanning a lot of work that hasn't ever seen the light of day. I've got another piece in an upcoming show that I wanted to re-scan at a higher resolution than the lab scan, and this is what I got.

SPOTS!!!

I first thought it was a dirty scanner mirror, but nope, it's just this roll (so far, and I hope). Confirmed with a loupe. Tried PEC-12 and Edwal, and both the emulsion and base look shiny and clean when held oblique to the light, so it's deeper in there somewhere.

Maybe it's just my eyes, but the film itself looks kind of...brown. I wonder if it wasn't fixed properly. It was stored well, in a typical Print-File, in a binder in normal conditions.

Film is TMX100, developed in Xtol 1+1 at Hunt's Photo in Cambridge, Massachusetts about a decade ago. I don't really remember what the rest of their process was.
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Old 08-19-2019   #2
Steve M.
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If you didn't develop the film yourself, it makes it very difficult to know what's happening w/ the negs. Do you have some more scans you could post? That neg you show here has both white and dark spots on it, but due to the nature of the image, it's not easy to know what's up. The fact that the negs are brownish could be a lead, but give us some different scans if possible.

Even if things are in a print file, dust or moisture could be an issue, especially if high summer temps are relevant to where you store the negs.
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Old 08-19-2019   #3
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Could be insufficient fix and or wash, or a little contamination in the film during drying leading to some fungus or mold. Hard to Say without examining the damage with a strong loupe. Some of my old slides have similar spots and they’re a combination of some impregnated dirt from the processor and some mold.

Clean what you can up in post after scanning has been my approach.

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Old 08-19-2019   #4
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The dark spots equate to less density in the negative. The light spots the opposite. My guess is in the processing, unless storage was inadequate.
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Old 08-19-2019   #5
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For the hell of it, I would put one neg through some fixer again, wash it ect.....and see if there are any changes !!!
Your climate up in Seattle is nice, so it all points towards the processor of the film.
When I lived in England I was always disappointed with color negative prints that came back from processing.
When I came over here, I was BLOWN AWAY with the quality I was getting, from the same cameras. Obviously I was being ripped by the processor, they were over using the chemicals. All along I thought it was my fault, young and inexperienced I was ignorant.
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Old 08-19-2019   #6
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I've developed all my own BW film to archival standards recommended by manufacturers (throwaway/test rolls notwithstanding) since college, when I was doing a mix of sending things out and developing in our very busy group darkroom, mostly to avoid exactly this happening. I've definitely noticed that a lot of the C-41 I shot way, way back almost 20 years ago and developed at drugstores or other one-hour spots are horribly faded.

As for temp/humidity: another worry. Nothing's been stored in attics or garages or anything like that, but Seattle being Seattle, it's humid indoors (55%RH right now) much of the time, and increasingly hot summers (been in the 80s indoors most of this summer). I wouldn't be surprised if it was mold/fungus.

Anyway, a few more scans of this roll. Click through for full resolution.

The preceding frame:

Lots and lots of spots. "Fix it in post" doesn't apply here.

The original lab scan:


Another from the same roll:


Not much visible, except for a suspicious spot near the lower right.

And for good measure, a blank frame near the end:

Nothing much to see here.

Real shame that I don't think this is fixable; the gentleman in the photo with the guitar is now an established musician and was really looking forward to some prints of these.
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Old 08-19-2019   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmpgino View Post
For the hell of it, I would put one neg through some fixer again, wash it ect.....and see if there are any changes !!!
Your climate up in Seattle is nice, so it all points towards the processor of the film.
When I lived in England I was always disappointed with color negative prints that came back from processing.
When I came over here, I was BLOWN AWAY with the quality I was getting, from the same cameras. Obviously I was being ripped by the processor, they were over using the chemicals. All along I thought it was my fault, young and inexperienced I was ignorant.

Nothing to lose, right? Though I might guess mold, only because the original lab scans were clean. As someone mentioned earlier, the dark spots are less density. Baffling. Does mold eat silver?

If you're down in GA, you're right, the humidity here isn't nearly as bad, but my home seems to stay perpetually muggy indoors. (LEED standards aren't always what they're cracked up to be). I've got half a dozen DampRid desiccants around the place, but its got me rethinking storage solutions.
Just a coincidence, but these pieces are going to a show next month at Columbus State, so down in your neck of the woods.
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Old 08-19-2019   #8
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Try cleaning them. I have a bunch of negs from the 1970’s that have been poorly stored throughout the years. Many are covered with a light covering of fungus. I figured they were toast. I soaked them in warm water for several minutes, gently cleaned them (by massaging the negs with my fingers) then let them dry. They now look as good as new.

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Old 08-19-2019   #9
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If the film is brown then you likely have an issue with fixer left in the film. Not good...

The first thing you should try if you don't want to rewash the neg is to scan the neg with different color channels. That might do the trick. The default channel of most scanners for black and white is green. Try red and blue. If you use Vuescan this is easy. If not, scan it as a color neg and see if one of the channels is clean. Looks like you use a Nikon scanner, so you could even try scanning with the Infrared channel (I think you can do that with Vuescan, but I've never tried it.)

If that doesn't do it, then- I am not a conservation expert, but you should wash it to clear whatever chemicals are left in the film to stop any further deterioration. A soak in distilled water with a few changes would do the trick.

If washing the neg doesn't do anything for the problem (it probably won't) then...

If it were me, and I'm not recommending anything here, I would bleach a neg on that roll that has the same problem to see what I was left with. If I am not mistaken, the brown is a form of sulphide left over from the interaction of the left over fix with the film. If that is the case, the spots will still be there after bleaching. Sepia toning the neg might mitigate the problem. If I bleached the neg and the spots disappeared, then I would redevelop it and that should solve it. If you go down this route be careful. You need to use a rehalogenating bleach.

You might want to consult a conservation book. Lots of old prints had the same problem of inadequate fixing/washing.

Hope that helps you.
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Old 08-20-2019   #10
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I'm glad to see the topic of film archival brought up, not something I've seen recently on this forum but a topic of much personal interest.

Takkun, any chance your negatives were sticking to your print file sleeves? This very helpful book by Henry Wilhelm and Carol Brower actually recommends against using print file sleeves.* Namely, it carries risks of not just scratching, but also film adhesion to the low-density polyethylene used to make these pages over the long term (especially in higher humidity).

*see p.485, 497; http://www.wilhelm-research.com/pdf/..._HiRes_v1c.pdf

As for your colour negatives, colour fading in C41 seems to be a well-documented phenomenon. E6 seems much more robust, going 70+ years (instead of C41's few decades) before colour degradation becomes apparent. When shooting colour film with historical/archival purposes in mind, E6 is probably the much better option.

On a small side note, Kodak's marketing material claims improved archival characteristic for its latest Vision3 line. I've tried to get in touch with Kodak Alaris for more detailed information, but to no avail. Any archival/film experts on rangefinderforum who might know how the new Portra (and presumably Ektar+Cinestill) product lines fare against E6 in terms of colour degradation?
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