What to look out for with old negatives
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.
Contact a professional conservator for advice. A local museum can probably suggest someone.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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
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.
So, we are talking 35mm or 120 film, right? Not glass plates?
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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.
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.
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 !
Thanks, John. 'Preciate it.
Shooting glass plate in the forties probably gets you the same looks as shooting film today ;D
Originally Posted by Kevin Caulfield
"Look at that hipster with his glass plates. Why doesn't he just get with the times and shoot 35mm like everyone else?"
In other worlds he has
darker days, blacker swells.
Strokes that mix noir revenge
on waves of grey.