What to look out for with old negatives

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by Christopher Walrath, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Hey, all. How ya been?

    I have a question for ya. There might be someone here to offer a tip or two.

    A customer of mine comes in the store today. We get to talking about a new printer he bought and about old pictures and, being curious, I asked if he had any older black and white photographs and accompanying negs.

    Oh, BOY! He tells me his uncle was among the first liberators of the Dachau concentration camp to arrive and there some photographs and negatives. He just needs to find them. I tell him I would be honored if he would let me make some prints. We talk a while longer and decide upon, contingent on his finding everything, my making some contact prints so that we can look everything over and decide how he/we might like to proceed.

    So, if/when I receive these negatives, what should I look for? Other than the generic 'Carefully', how should they be handled? How can I evaluate their condition? I don't want them to crack when I press them in the contact frame against the paper. I wouldn't even dream of cleaning or allowing them to get wet. These are a cherished treasure.
     
  2. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Contact a professional conservator for advice. A local museum can probably suggest someone.
     
  3. boswald

    boswald Member

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    My mother's cousin was a translator/photographer at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen and a few others. His negatives were SuperXX Pan if I remember correctly. You'll need some really cold tone paper - glossy to get the "look". Most negs were really cooked back then, so be ready for a lot of contrast and density. Anyway, if it's Kodak film don't worry about hurting it. If it is really curled you may have to wash and treat it. Just don't squeegee. It is usually easier to look up and make stuff like anti-curl than track it down, though Edwal might still make it.
    I'll ask my dad what museums near you would want prints or to take care of it, should it need a home.

    Have an interesting time with it, can't say it's fun, but it is fascinating in a creepy way. David
     
  4. henry finley

    henry finley Member

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    That's odd. My uncle (still living) also liberated concentration camps. He was 79th Mechanized Calvary. Discharged 1946 as a Corporal in 3rd Calvary Recon. That's all I know, other than his unit walked into some concentration camp and liberated it.
     
  5. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I print my grandfathers negatives from the thirties and forties. They seem to be as robust as any negative. I do handle them very carefully though.
     
  6. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    So, we are talking 35mm or 120 film, right? Not glass plates?
     
  7. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    I bet mostly 120 rollfilm.

    This is quite an exciting oppurtunity.

    Please keep us updated with how the project progresses Christopher.
    I for one would be very interested.
     
  8. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    So basically, common sense. Kind got that but figure a shout out wouldn't hurt. Kevin, haven't seen the negs, but from our conversation, I am positive they are not LF. I'm thinking 35mm. We'll see. I am looking forward to this. I know it would be an emotional project to say the least. But I would like to think that I am up for the challenge.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    chris

    look on ebay for some OLD azo, it comes in weird sizes and probably is still good, it lasts forever.
    get some cloth gloves and a bright light bulb and make azo contact prints. if you have ansco 130 azo prints
    well in that, also amidol ( not the chinese amidol it will turn your developer pink ) ...
    safety film had been around for a bunch of years by the time your film was made, so it won't be flammable

    great project, have fun !
    john
     
  10. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Thanks, John. 'Preciate it.
     
  11. EKDobbs

    EKDobbs Member

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    Shooting glass plate in the forties probably gets you the same looks as shooting film today ;D

    "Look at that hipster with his glass plates. Why doesn't he just get with the times and shoot 35mm like everyone else?"
     
  12. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Are old nitrate based negs a concern here?
     
  13. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Yes, look out for nitrate based film. BAD stuff, and a potential fire hazard.

    PE
     
  14. dwross

    dwross Subscriber

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    Probably not (unless the photographer had used decades-old film bought off ebay :smile:.) "Safety film" was introduced in the early 1900s. The movie industry didn't completely switch out until right after WWII, but consumer film for still cameras had been cellulose for a long, long time.
     
  15. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Cellulose acetate, to be clear (ew, bad pun), as nitrate film is also cellulose.
     
  16. dwross

    dwross Subscriber

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    Excellent editing! Thanks.
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    StoneNYC recently got a stash of films dating as late as 1947 with no edge markings.

    I advised him to be careful as it might be the Nitrate based. He gave it a "safe" ignition test and it went up in a flash. So I'm looking at some information that says roll films used it even in the 40s.

    This comes from a PM, but since it is critical to know for safety, I thought I would bring it up.

    PE
     
  18. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    PE found the thread :smile:

    Yep that's me, these are some images ... Verichromerawscan-4.jpg Verichromerawscan-1-2.jpg

    I'm planning on getting rid of the film SOON ... though stupidly still have it in my freezer... :/
     
  19. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Hey guys, can anyone help me identify this?

    I developed 3 rolls of old film together, a roll of technical pan, roll of "recording film" and roll of Panatomic-X all Kodak, the Pan-X was easy because it has "Kodak Safety Film 5060" on it so the number identified it, the other two, one says "Kodak Safety Film" only no numbers, and has some fog like the pan-x but the other one just says "Kodak" and is SUPER CLEAR no base fog at all, so I'm really hoping that's te Tech pan, since recording film was fast 1000ASA and SHOULD have fog, but I got the tech pan off ebay cheap and it didn't look well stored, boxes all beat up, but anyone know which is which? PE??

    Panatomic-X

    [​IMG]

    Kodak Safety Film???

    [​IMG]

    Kodak???

    [​IMG]

    Thanks anyone!



    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk