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  1. #1
    clayne's Avatar
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    Freezing Negatives

    I've searched around on this and haven't found a lot of information. Is it unheard of? Crazy? No benefit? Microscopic ice crystals forming and splitting film?

    It seems that if we can store unexposed and exposed-but-unprocessed film in the freezer that we should also be able to store negatives in the freezer as well. I'm thinking about archival boxes where things are relatively easy to seal and one probably won't be pulling them out at will. More recent negs being worked on are of course left out.

    Would this offer greater archival benefits than room temperature storage?
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Unlikely.

    Ilford don't actually recommend storing unexposed film in a freezer either.

    Ian

  3. #3
    Martin Reed's Avatar
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    There's a lot of information about film cold storage in 'The Permanence & Care of Color Photographs' by Wilhelm, and this can be downloaded FOC from the Wilhelm Research site;

    http://www.wilhelm-research.com/book_toc.html

    (80 Mb, be warned!) The benefits of cold storage appear to be enormous, 'just detectable' fading in Kodacolor 11 for example reducing from 6 years at 24° C to a projected 2000 years at -18° C. There's no problem with ice crystals, the water content of the gelatin at about 15% is too small for them to form. Kodak's testing never found any detrimental effects, as long as the film was sealed to stop moisture entering the package.

  4. #4

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    Dear Clayne;
    I photographed my grandparents 50th anniversary in 1965, on Kodak Ekatacolor S, probably the worst keeping color film of all time. I always keep my color negs in a freezer at -25. In 2008 I reprinted an anniversary album from those same negatives, as a gift for my aunt and uncles 63rd anniversary and those Ektacolor S negatives were nearly the same as they were in 1965, with just a slight desaturation and a small loss of the yellow and a small magenta shift all of which was easily compensated for in the filter pack. I know that freezing exposed color film definitely preserves it.
    Denise Libby

  5. #5
    Wade D's Avatar
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    For color freezing the negs might be a benefit but for B&W I really don't think so. My B&W negs are stored in a sealed ammo box with silica gel and go back 40 years. I also have B&W negs that my great grandparents shot in the early 1900's that were stored in a shoe box that print just fine. No degradation noticeable. The silver image is much more permanent than the dyes used in color film. An exception would be Kodachrome. The old slides look as good today as they did when new.

  6. #6
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    Unlikely.

    Ilford don't actually recommend storing unexposed film in a freezer either.

    Ian
    Like Wade I doubt the benefits with B&W, my comments were with regard to B&W negatives.

    Ian

  7. #7
    Martin Reed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wade D View Post
    For color freezing the negs might be a benefit but for B&W I really don't think so...
    Slight diversion, for B&W storage encapsulation, either vacuum or under inert gas may be the best option, although one problem is that the equipment necessary is really only available to institutions. A few years ago I remember Stuart Welch of Conservation by Design encapsulating a large living leaf in this way, and he carried it around for months with no visible decay apparent. However a quick trawl hasn't thrown up much with direct relevance to b&w film, the technology seems quite new and storage of other media is first in line.

    There's some stuff at the bottom of this page about colour prints;
    http://www.conservation-by-design.co.uk/flood.html

    & the Niépce photograph is interesting, although tarmac photography hasn't had much uptake for a while
    http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibition...servation.html

  8. #8
    clayne's Avatar
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    Most of my stuff is B&W. What I don't understand is if we know heat to generally be detrimental, surely sealed (enough) film of all forms should benefit in the freezer I would think? I just can't see the downsides except for the rare chance ice forms.
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  9. #9
    Martin Reed's Avatar
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    Simply that there's not enough benefit to justify freezing b&w for normal purposes; atmospheric oxidation & proximity to low grade storage materials is the main issue, and that's largely protected with the right sleeving and boxes. Maybe find out how NASA store the spaceflight b&w film material? But to do it properly seems quite an undertaking;

    http://www.archives.gov/preservation...ge-photos.html
    Last edited by Martin Reed; 07-22-2009 at 08:18 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #10

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    What's the point? Raw (undeveloped) film is unstable. Cold storage slows down the deterioration. Developed film is stable.
    Last edited by fschifano; 07-22-2009 at 10:26 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Frank Schifano

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