Storing B&W photographs

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by HMFriedman, May 8, 2014.

  1. HMFriedman

    HMFriedman Member

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    I have an opportunity to but a couple of solid oak flat files. I am wondering if storage of my fiber based prints in wood drawers would have any negative impact on the life of the prints. Thanks for your help.
     
  2. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Humidity and chemical contaminants could be a problem especially with long term storage. Proper processing and thorough washing of prints is a must. Our house is air-conditioned and I keep film and prints in acid free storage boxes in a closet that has a louvered door. Despite all that some acid free mat boards developed climate stains so I quit dry mounting my prints unless it is requested. I don't know about wood drawers.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  3. momus

    momus Member

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    I think it will be fine. That's exactly what most artists keep their works on paper in. I think Jeff's problem is with the mat boards. Acid free does not mean 100% rag paper, nor does it even mean totally acid free. It can often still have a high PH rating and be given a rating of acid free. Quite confusing, but the easiest solution is to never buy any paper or mat boards that are not 100% cotton rag.

    Acid free paper is made from wood pulp, not cotton. Often the mat boards are made from sandwiched construction w/ the outside of the mat board, the side that would touch the art work, being acid free. The other side is often laid on top of a piece of non acid free paper in the middle. The chemicals and acids in the interior part of the paper WILL leach out to the other side over time and onto the art work. Never use any mat board that is not made from 100% rag. It's more expensive and a little harder to hand cut, but it's worth it. Foam board presents the same problem if you are mounting your work to it unless you seal things w/ acrylic gesso before mounting the print. The fiber print itself is no longer made from 100% rag, but is coated with barium and a salt called strontium to insulate the image from the paper itself, and usually a hard gelatin coating over the emulsion, which performs a similar function of sealing papers with gesso, but of course it's translucent. Bromoil papers do not have the gelatin coating.

    I'm in Florida too, which presents the added issue of humidity. Make sure to use packets of silica gel in the file drawers, and every now and then pull the prints out and rotate them in their order. A few times a year is usually sufficient. It would be best to keep a room dehumidifier near the prints in high humidity climates as well. No matter what you do, to my mind, the use of optical brighteners like barium, and the gelatin emulsion itself, mean that no photographic paper is truly archival like an art print, such as an etching.
     
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  4. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Actually the board I mentioned was 100% cotton rag. That is all I use and oddly most mounted prints on the same board in the same boxes were not affected. I have no explanation since the boards were from the same package of 25 but not necessarily mounted at the same time but all with a Seal 210 press and the same archival tissue. The actual prints were not affected.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  5. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Outgassing from pulp, glues, and finishes are the main concerns with wood, just as with wood pulp mat boards, and 'archival' boxes. Inert metal would be better. But given the cost of working flat files, if you get a great deal on a wood one, you may only be splitting hairs as to any deleterious long term storage effects. It really comes down to all the other factors mentioned in previous posts and the treatment of the wood. One thing: solid (you sure about that?) oak would sure look better in my office than the 3 giant stacked metal flat files I have now.:wink:

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  6. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    Those things look like a bear to move.