Best Place to Store Negatives
I have heard that the darkroom is not the best place to store negatives because of the proximity to chemical fumes, but my choices are limited. I do not have AC in the house and cannot control the temperature except in the colder months (and not in the darkroom). Where I live (Eastern Ontario, Canada), summer is mid-June to mid-September. It can get very cold by November and ridiculously cold in Jan/Feb (-22F/-30C, or even colder for a few days). Here are my options:
1) The darkroom, which is fairly large for a home darkroom (10' x 15' or about 3m x 4.5m) and it is also well-ventilated but has no heat. It is comfortably cool for most of the year (April to October). In the hot months, the temperature in the darkroom stays relatively cool (probably around 68F/20C) except for a short period in the hottest part of the summer when it can touch on 75F/24C in the darkroom. During that time, it can also be quite humid, but this is normally no more than a week or two when it is very hot and humid outdoors. In the winter, the darkroom temperature slowly drops and can go as low as 50F/10C in January and February. When I work in the darkroom in the coldest part of the winter, I use a small heater to bring the room up to 68F/20C. This can be up to 2-3 days a week.
2) The basement, which will be warmer than the darkroom all year: 68F/20C from about October to April, and then it will follow the house temperature and get quite warm in the summer and often humid.
So which is better: cool most of the time with a short high spike in the summer and a lot of cold in the winter; or moderate most of the time with a longer period of higher temperature and humidity in the summer (including a very hot spike for a few weeks in July and August).
Another possibility is add a heating vent to the darkroom which would allow me to keep the temperature up in the cold months but would have no effect in the hot months. The problem there is dust. My house is old (90 years) and full of dust. The forced-air heating system doesn't help in that regard. Have any of you had similar problems with forced-air/dust and are there filters out there which can truly make a difference?
I don't think those temperature changes occurring as they do over many months will do any harm to the negatives. I don't think that negatives in proper negative files and binders will be affected by any of the normal chemicals that might be in use. If there are chemicals that will adversely affect properly processed negatives in files and binders then I'd be more concerned about the effect they might have on the more vulnerable human being using the room
I wound't worry about. I keep my negatives in a massive warehouse!
First off, make sure your negs are well washed. Then I store in a dark, cool dry place. I found some negs I processed in high school that I didn't wash well and now they have marks on them. But the ones I did process well are holding up well under the those conditions. Humidity and heat are negatives worst enemies. Mold thinks gelatin on film is yummy.
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I'll be following this thread for more advice. I personally stow my -ves in the fridge.
That said, I'm quite surprised that you consider 24C hot!
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As mentioned, the best thing is to make certain your negs. are properly fixed and washed. Cool and dry is the maxim. Refrigeration of exposed and processed B/W film is beyond the pale unless you are Corbis. Living anywhere in the North, I wouldn't be a bit concerned about longevity due to short periods of heat. Keep them in a fire safe on the floor (a naturally cool place) inside your house but outside of your lab. Obviously the fire safe offers some degree of catastrophic protection, but it will also force you to organize your negs., and because of its insulation keep them relatively cool and dry. Looking for assured longevity of your masterworks any longer than the couple of centuries that will be good for, I have to ask: Who the hell do you think you are? Adams?, Weston?, Capa?, Watkins?, Talbot? You do know that people are mostly interested in your prints, right?
Last edited by ROL; 05-06-2014 at 12:42 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I guess I wasn't clear. I don't think 24C is hot. All I meant was that during the hottest part of the summer (which can go into the mid-30s C) the darkroom warms up to about 24C.
Originally Posted by analoguey
I didn't really talk about the long-term future, but since you bring it up, I don't really care about it. I was simply wondering about the relative short term. I am guessing you were trying to make a joke, but it came across to me as a little rude. This is a forum where people ask questions and that's what I did. Don't read too much into it.
Originally Posted by ROL
I just think it's hilarious that the Canadian is calling 24C as 'warm' , that's our record highest mid-winter temperature around here (and an average mid-autumn temp).
Forget the temperature, wherever has less dust, chemical fumes, and sunlight gets my vote.
An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.
f/64 and be there.
If you sepia tone ever, do not keep your negatives in the darkroom! Other chemicals/fumes can have an adverse affect as well.
I like the fire safe idea, but I have upwards of 40 binders of negatives now, too many to keep in all but a really huge fire safe... Temperature fluctuations like you mention are much less of a concern than humidity. If you live in humid conditions, consider a dehumidifier or storage with desiccants.
FWIW, I keep my negs in a closet in a bookshelf in dust-proof binders and in polypropylene pages.