Cleaning old prints
Not quite sure this is the correct subforum to ask this in, but it seemed the most relevant. Please redirect me if necessary.
A friend of mine approached me telling me he had aquired several old prints (about 100 years old he estimates) of old riverboats from his area.
The prints were in somewhat poor condition though and has what he explains as 'they appear to have 80 years of smokers soot on them'.
How would one go about cleaning these prints if at all possible?
Darn they didn't have no-smoking areas back then!
I would first scan them.
Depending on the size you could take pictures of the prints with that other medium and/or film as well.
Suggest those alternatives before any liquid is applied to the print. How are they mounted?
He didn't mention anything about mounting, but i'll be sure to ask him. And yeah, scanning or replicating with other methods would surely get some results. This was the reason he contacted me in the first place, but my photoshopping skillls are somewhat limited and i can't help but think he would be better off restoring the originals ;)
If all else fails we'll scan them and i'll do my best to make a decent copy, but yeah. I tought i'd ask in here first as there seems to be an almost unlimited supply of analog knowledge here.
I would not recommend doing anything to the original print. Photograph the original and make another print. This can then be retouched. I learned this the hard way but only screwed up one of my own prints.
I've scanned 120 year old prints with surface cracks with simple flatbed scanner, then printed them on regular inkjet using twice as large paper. Other than the fact it lost some shaprness, it came out very well. Loss of sharpness may have come from my printing method and the fact I enlarged them, but the person who asked me to do this were certainly surprised of the good results.
Originally Posted by Degenetron
It is standard procedure to make copy negatives of any old prints you hope to restore. If the prints are yellowed, use a blue filter. Develop the film in a contrast-enhancing developer.
I would try a gentle application of naptha (cigarette-lighter fluid) on a small section first, but I am no expert, so check this advice with others. In any case, do not soak the paper.
If you're going to copy with film, use as large a format as possible. 35mm is not the best choice. Personally, I'd scan them.