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History, Conservation, and Repair The history of photographic prints, and how best to care for and repair them.

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Old 03-13-2006, 07:20 AM
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Ben Ben is offline
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Old Photos

Hi
I'm not sure that this is the correct discussion group to ask but I have found lots of old family photos which are irreplaceable. I have scanned them and at the moment they are on the hard disk of my computer.
Q1 What is the best technique for storing old photos?
Q2 What is the best technique for storing reprints of old photos?
Q3 Is there any software on the market which would in effect be a virtual photo album but is a stand alone type? ( Most types I have found to date simple pull images from the hard disk, which means if the hard disk goes down they are all lost. I need one that would save the images seperately)
Hope thats clear.
Thanks
Ben
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Old 03-24-2006, 07:32 AM
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Sally Jacobs Sally Jacobs is offline
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Storing Old Photos

Ben,

I'll tackle your questions one at a time:

Q1 What is the best technique for storing old photos?


Your best bet is to store photos in high quality archival enclosures that have passed the Photographic Activity Test (PAT). I sell some basic storage kits in my online shop (www.jacobsarchival.com). You can find larger selections at archival suppliers such as Gaylord Brothers, Light Impressions, and Metal Edge, Inc. Not everything they sell has passed the PAT, though. Enemies include light, heat, humidity, dust, and human handling. And natural disasters such as fire and flood. Which is where the digital backup comes in...


Q2 What is the best technique for storing reprints of old photos?

If you are talking about new paper prints, the storage requirements are the same regardless of age. Archivists used to argue about whether or not color prints should go in buffered or unbuffered materials, but today it's agreed that the key thing is finding and using materials that have passed the PAT. The PAT is an independent age-acceleration test that determines whether or not the enclosure will interact with a photograph over time.


Q3 Is there any software on the market which would in effect be a virtual photo album but is a stand alone type? ( Most types I have found to date simple pull images from the hard disk, which means if the hard disk goes down they are all lost. I need one that would save the images seperately)
Hope thats clear.

I'm not sure about albums, but it's definitely a good idea to store an extra set off-site in case disaster strikes. An external hard drive stored at your office or even a safe deposit box is what I would recommend. Second best is to burn your images onto a high quality gold cd and store those off-site. You'll need to check on these discs every few years to make sure they are still readable. The life expectancy of cds you burn yourself is about 5-10 years. Online sites allow you to store digitals, but there's no guarantee the company you choose will still offer that service years from now. These sites are great as a second backup, though.

One last thing, Ben -- I hope you've been saving your scans as TIFF files, which is a "lossless" file format. JPEGs are great for posting online or emailing to others, but in exchange for the convenience of compression and smaller file size you lose information.

Hope this helps and good luck on your archiving project!

Sincerely,

-Sally
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Old 03-24-2006, 10:42 AM
Mike Mike is offline
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Sally

Some (most likely too many!) years ago I think I remember reading something about storing prints and negatives in "50% humidity, 50 degrees and total darkness".

That is of course with all the acid free paper, boxes etc.

So does this still hold true?

Mike
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