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

Removing Photos Stuck to Glass

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Old 02-16-2002, 05:55 AM
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Ed_L Ed_L is offline
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Just a few words about Photo-flo. After you use it, you can put it into a bottle for future use or you can just discard it (it's inexpensive). If you put it into a bottle, make *absolutely sure* the bottle cannot be mistaken as having something for human consumption in it. Bottles for storing photographic chemicals are best. You have probably all heard about the "stinky" darkroom liquids. There is little to no odor to Photo-flo, and unless things have changed recently, it can be discarded down the drain without concern.

If the photo in question is on resin-coated paper (RC paper), the print can simply be hung with a clothespin in a dust free environment for drying. Photo-flo allows the print to dry spot free (the primary reason for it's use). For fiber based prints, the print should be put into a special drying blotter, and not hung like the RC print. Hanging the fiber prints will likely be cause for the print to curl. If I'm wrong on any of this, I'm sure someone will jump in, but I'm pretty sure the information is correct.

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Old 02-16-2002, 11:36 AM
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Lampy Lampy is offline
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Hey Ed

That all sounds about right from what I can remember from my undergraduate and graduate photo courses. It's been five or six years now but I don't think anything's changed.

Thanks for the input.

Only thing I'd add is that if Photoflo is cheap and something that isn't used that often I'd probably chuck it. Fresh chemicals are probably a better choice than old ones. I suppose there is a slight risk of cross contamination as well. I'm thinking of a photo that might have gotten wet and has some mold on it soaked in photoflo then the liquid is saved and reused. There might be a risk there but I'm sure it's minimal.

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Old 02-16-2002, 12:21 PM
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Originally posted by thomasgeorge
The few I've encountered usually "let go" with soaking, make that CAREFUL soaking.I tried freezing a photo I purposely stuck to glass by sandwiching it between two sheets of glass and leaving it in the sun to cook...results were not great. Lost some of the gelatin layer which refused to let go. I believe there are plasticizers which can be added to the soaking solution to help firm up the image bearing layer but Ferrotyping ( loss of texture of the photo where it stuck to the glass-noticably smooth and out of character) is a problem I have no idea about how to remedy...Heather or Jim? Tom
Tom, the Ferrotyping can usually be corrected by a very light steaming. All of the usual warnings about handling originals apply here of course, but just holding the photo above the steam for a few seconds will usually do the trick. For those of you who use Spottone or similar dyes, this will also allow them to blend instead of sitting on top of RC papers.

Jim Conway
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Old 02-16-2002, 12:54 PM
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Jim, are there any plasticizers or such which can be added to the soaking solution to "firm up" the image bearing layer? Thanks Tom
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Old 02-16-2002, 01:21 PM
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Jim Conway Jim Conway is offline
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More on glass sticking problems

Not that I know of Tom but now that I'm back here, I'll add a warning on excessive use of Photoflo ... A little bit goes a long way - keep in mind that this utilizes a combination of the same stuff that is used in antifreeze solutions, in hydraulic fluids, and as a solvent so read the label - 1 part of PhotoFlo to 200 parts of water. While it can work as mentioned in a number of these posts, if you assume that more is better, you can easily create your own set of new problems.

The objective (as my old physics teacher put this) is to make water wetter. In the case of Kodak's formulation, the objective is to make the water run off of the film so it dries evenly. I'd consider adding it to the water (in anything higher than Kodak's recommendation) for attempting to remove a print from glass only as a last resort.

On RC's (if the glass was clean), I'd try heat first ...not with a hair dryer but by heating the glass much like you would to release a print from a ferrotype tin ...sometimes even a touch on the spot that is stuck from the base side with a hot knife will do the trick if it melts the polyethylene enough to break the print free. On FB I'd use steam (with a conservators tool that costs nearly as much as a high end computer!)

And a final note. In real life situations, I seldom spend time on it if I can't get it to come free in a minute or two! The odds are that you'll end up with more damage to repair not less and it's usually easier and less time consuming to make a good copy negative.

In another thread I believe Mike or someone here mentioned the old trick of copying under water - many times that is another alternative that will work well in this situation.

Jim Conway
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Old 02-16-2002, 01:37 PM
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Sharon Brunson Sharon Brunson is offline
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If the intent of photoflo is to make water wetter, it sounds a lot like Shaklee's Basic H.
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Old 02-16-2002, 02:33 PM
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Thanks for the info, Jim. Tom
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Old 03-03-2004, 10:27 AM
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Juliana Ross Juliana Ross is offline
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alternate to soaking :)

Hi There,

I have always used distilled water in a household humidifier. I modified the output nozzle to concentrate the steam vent.
Once this is done you can gently pull the free part of the image back, then pass it once or twice through the steam path. This combines heat and liquid.
Ease the image back very gently until you feel resistance, then pass through the steam path again.
Rinse and repaeat until the image is freed.
All it takes is some patience and a gentle touch.
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Old 03-03-2004, 10:47 AM
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This makes a lot more sense to me than soaking in water.
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Old 08-12-2004, 04:04 PM
Howie Howie is offline
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a great product for making water wetter is Simple Green, safe for the envrioment.I don't know about for photos as of yet but I am thinking about giving it a try here based on past results using Simple Green , it doesn't leave behind a green color on anything I have used it on to assist a cleaning effort and it should only take a few drops with a small amount of water to free up a photo stuck to glass IMHO.I'll see how it works and photograph the process and see how it pans out
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