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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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  #1  
Old 02-15-2002, 09:34 AM
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Lampy Lampy is offline
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Removing Photos Stuck to Glass

Hi all

I've just been asked about removing a photograph that is stuck to glass (they think it is a cibachrome (sp?)). This is something I've done before (different photo type) with some success. I'm not sure if anyone's talked about it on this site so I thought it might be a fun topic to toss around and see what shakes loose.

Who's tried it? What worked? What didn't work? What type of photo was it tried on?
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  #2  
Old 02-15-2002, 09:40 AM
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The first photo I ever had that was stuck to glass was actually removed before I got it. Small bits of the gelatin image layer remained stuck to the glass and what I did was float them off with a little deionized water. Once off I floated them back on to the image. (I can't remember if I used warm gelatin or paste or nothing for reattachment...it was a long time ago). This worked fine except when gelatin gets wet it expandes so there ended up being a halo of overlapping image around each piece that was reattached.

--Heather
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Old 02-15-2002, 12:05 PM
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After reading the posts in the magnetic album thread, I was wondering if a hair dryer would work?
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  #4  
Old 02-15-2002, 01:26 PM
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Done a bunch of this!
I have found that just plain water is a good place to start with any photograph that is say 1930 or newer. Depending on what the customer says and what I see, we usually make a copy of the photo before we start the process, just in case we run into something bad.
Soaking in plain water will work pretty well if the print has not been on the glass for a long time. Sometimes we get photos in where they have been on the glass for what appears to be decades or something and those can be a real problem. For those I add photoflo to the water. Photoflo is a thick liquid you add to the final rinse when developing film. It breaks the waters surface tension on the film, and seems to help the water penetrate into the paper emulsion that is stuck to the glass.
One would not want to use a hair dryer on one of these. It seems that getting a print wet, then having it stick to the glass and then dry is about the worst thing that can happen.
These are much easier to do if the prints are still damp when you get them.
Very often I let the print soak for hours and sometimes days. However you really have to watch them so they just don't dissolve on you (remember the copy made before you started?)
Great care, gentle handling and patience are needed. If you really want to tackle something hard, I had a customer bring me a stack of prints about an inch thick, they had gotten wet (really soaked) and so she put them in the oven and baked them dry. We did not do to well with those


Mike
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Old 02-15-2002, 01:26 PM
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I am interested to hear other ideas on this one! I had a customer bring me her only picture of grandma stuck to the glass....It was discolored in the places that stuck. It was a picture from the 50's...don't know what kind of paper....I just scanned it glass and all. Worked out fine but would love to have a different alternative! Heather or Mike, would that be something you would soak off with deonized water?
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  #6  
Old 02-15-2002, 02:29 PM
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One quick thing to mention for anyone reading this.... If you suspect that the photograph has any mold damage do not soak it in water to remove from the glass. Gelatin that is mold damage can break down and there will be nothing left of those areas.

I guess the other warning would be to know your print types. The 1930 date is probably a good one. Collodian prints are very suseptible to water and can just wash away when they get wet so these are not good candidates for any waterbases treatment.


I would also agree that photos stuck to glass are one of the
hardest things to deal with that is with the exception of the photos stuck to each other. I've dealt with fire damaged/water damaged photos stuck face to face and there is nothing that can be done. These were gelatins and gelatin to gelatin just becomes one with each other.

I like the photoflo idea. I had been thinking about that but haven't tried it.

Has anyone tried to remove a cibachrome? My thought is that even if the print comes off what will the change in gloss be like (from adhered areas to non-adhered areas)?

Jill when you are thinking of soaking something off I would not only photograph or scan it first but test the water on the print. Use Q-tips and a bit of water. See if it will cause staining, if the emulsion comes off and so on. Test for different lengths of time. Also warn the client that it is possible that the photograph will be completely lost and that is a risk they will have to take. You can also refer them to a photographs conservator who may or maynot be able to get it off without damage.

Oh, I don't think the hairdrier is a good idea.....but has anyone tried cold? I think I read about someone using icecubes on the glass side but that might have been something totally different.

Still looking for more thoughts on the subject!

--Heather
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Old 02-15-2002, 03:07 PM
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Okay, no hairdryer...probably no blow torch either then.

Mike, where do you get photoflo?

Sharon
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Old 02-15-2002, 03:15 PM
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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
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Old 02-15-2002, 04:40 PM
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Photoflo should be available at any camera shop that sells darkroom supplies. It used to be (and I presume still is) a Kodak product. One word of caution is to take the dilution instructions very seriously.
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  #10  
Old 02-15-2002, 04:50 PM
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Sharon Photoflo is found at any store that sells photo darkroom stuff. Buy a little bottle, it goes a long way!!!!

Jill without seeing it, it sounds like something I would have tried to soak off.

Heather testing a corner is always a good idea unless you are really sure of what you have.

Tom I have never done it, but I think one might be able re-ferrotype a print one had soaked off glass. If it will stand the soaking it most likely would stand the ferrotyping. But of course that assumes you have the equipment to do so.



I also have done the the fire and water thing. A house just down the street caught fire, and was going real good when the FD got there. So I ended up with frames that had been burning when the guys hit them with a hose. Had about 75 or 80 frames come in all soaking wet (that was good) and boy did they stink!!!
A good many of the frames contained school pictures of the 4 kids in the family, and mom had put every new one over the top of last years, so some of the frames had 8 or 9 or more photos in them. Took about 3 days of miserable, stinky work, filled 3 garbage cans with half burnt frames and broken glass. The insurance company paid well, almost enough for all the bandaides I needed
Mike
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Old 02-16-2002, 04:55 AM
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Photo-flo

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.

Ed
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Old 02-16-2002, 10:36 AM
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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.

--Heather
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  #13  
Old 02-16-2002, 11:21 AM
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Quote:
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, 11:54 AM
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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, 12:21 PM
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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, 12:37 PM
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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, 01:33 PM
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Thanks for the info, Jim. Tom
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Old 03-03-2004, 09:27 AM
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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, 09:47 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, 03:04 PM
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Wink

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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Old 08-12-2004, 07:24 PM
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Howie,

I'd be a little hesitant to use it on a photo. I use it to soak saw blades in when they become heavy with residue from cutting wood. That stuff gets hard as a rock! And Simple Green does a good job of loosening it for cleaning! Oven cleaner is the other option, and you know how bad that stuff is. Don't forget that even if you use it for a quick dip, there is always a good chance that at a later date, some unwanted effects will show up.

Ed
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Old 08-14-2004, 04:22 AM
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I guess I should have been more specfic, all you need is a couple of drops of simple green to change the surface tension.Making water wetter.
There are many uses for products that aren't labled , for instance coca cola does a great job of cleaning car battery terminals
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Old 08-14-2004, 10:59 AM
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Let the Good Times Roll!

"There are many uses for products that aren't labled , for instance coca cola does a great job of cleaning car battery terminals"

Ouch! Of such ideas are born the reason for ER's in hospitals and for Photo Conservators who specialize in Disaster Recovery!

Jim Conway
Timemark Photo Conservators
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Old 08-27-2004, 09:03 AM
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Seriously though. The coke thing. All you do is pour a little on the cable connectoins on the top of the battery. I have always heard that its the acid and carbonation in the coke helps to dislodge buildup from the connectors.
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Old 10-20-2004, 03:53 PM
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I just got a picture today that the glass was broken in several pieces with the pic stuck. Do you think that using a razor blade to scrap the glass would work?
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Old 12-01-2004, 10:36 AM
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broken glass bonded photo to glass.

hi all

i just got a freelance offer to retouch a photo.
it's about 35 years old i'm guessing.
the glass is smashed and the photo is bonded to the glass fragments.
i have been reading your ideas on this forum and another.
http://forum.doityourself.com/archiv...p/t-49530.html
link above
i like the steaming idea
[ok scan first!]
and i was even thinking of freezing it in the icebox and than trying to remove it from the glass with a razor than immediately.
photoflo looks likes the best bet from the sound of these forums!
the q-tip idea is a must too.
i have a friend who has a frame shop
duda studios in breaksville ohio
he has tried all these ideas and never liked the results.
so he scans the photo with the glass and does his retouch from there.
but his one suggestion was to
" I have a self focusing
scanner that will adjust for the thickness of the
glass to get a perfectly clear scan. Let me know if
you want that.'
Paul
his words
so i will take this photo to school tri-c west community college in parma ohio and see what the guys in scientic imaging say and also take it ovr to the photography department and see what they say.
i will get back to you folks on there ideas!
///
i'm not a photographer so i don't know about different papers and chemicals.
but the photo i'm retouching has many stains and i think that using water to soke it will only spread the stains [very fast i'm guessing]
if i could just get some of the part of this photo out from the cracks of glass clean it would make my photo retouch attempt much easyer.
sense my drawing or painting skills in photoshop are lacking, i really need to just do color adjustments and cloning and healing tool on this black&white photo.
i'll attach this photo.[i changed the mode to black&white in ps because the stained give it a sepia look, i will give it a sepia look when i'm done i believe.]
i blew up the girl's head because i wasn't sure i could even see a face, but i can. to bad her hair is messed up, looks like a paint job ugh!
peace
gympy
photo retouch section of my website her
http://enderxen.com/framesets1/index1.html
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Old 09-21-2006, 09:41 AM
Ckparker Ckparker is offline
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Normal I use photoflo or I scan the picture and make a new. But I have a new one, the picture is a signed photo by a baseball player. And the glass is Broke they want me to get it off without damaging the picture and writing. I was wandering if steaming it would work. What do you think?
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Old 09-21-2006, 01:31 PM
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photo stuck on glass!

your idea of steaming sounds good.
be careful not to burn or damage the main part of your foto.
sometime the emation is just destoyed and you need to just retouch!
good luck
hal
http://halpittaway.com/portfolio/retouch/1.htm
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:59 PM
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Re: Removing Photos Stuck to Glass

A simple tool that can help remove stuck photos is a microspatula. They are available from archival suppliers, conservation suppliers, and dental supply companies.

Sorry to be a stick in the mud, but I feel compelled to inject a cautionary note to this discussion: As an archivist trained in preservation (tho' not a conservator by any means) I have to advise against radical methods like steaming, freezing, and (yes!) even soaking. If you feel these measures are absolutely necessary, please try to create a copy first.

Also, a question....

As an archivist, I make a distinction between the informational value of a photograph (the image it contains) and its artifactual value (the thing itself). Do you find that clients want glass removed because they're attached to the original photograph? Or is this just a necessary step before you can get a decent copy of it?

-Sally
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Old 05-18-2009, 02:09 PM
Joe Townsend Joe Townsend is offline
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Smile Re: Removing Photos Stuck to Glass

I am facing a potential job where flooding caused a number of photos to stick together in piles of up to 10 photos, so I have been reading this forum with great interest.

The discussions about removing a photo from glass, with the questions as to whether the image or the artifact itself are of value caught my eye. I have successfully restored a couple of photos by scanning the damaged item, glass and all. The images here show a snapshot of great value to the customer. There was some additional work in dealing with discolorization, but it was probably offset by the time it would have taken to complete the removal. The resorted photo brought great satisfaction to all.
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Old 05-21-2009, 08:37 PM
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Re: Removing Photos Stuck to Glass

Nice work Joe ! You have shown what a bit of creativity can do. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-10-2009, 05:42 AM
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Re: Removing Photos Stuck to Glass

Great thread lots of good info.

I used soaking in distilled water a couple of times before (after taking some good scans) to un stick photos from glass. It worked well the pics were in decent shape to begin with so it was not to bad.

I think next time I will start out trying to use steam from a humidifier before I do the soaking.
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Old 07-10-2009, 06:31 AM
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Re: Removing Photos Stuck to Glass

I have to disagree with Sally on this one.
Photos are typicall born of water. Just like you can refix fading and/or yellowing b/w's you can resoak film and images.
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Old 09-12-2011, 07:45 PM
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Re: Removing Photos Stuck to Glass

My photo that is stuck to the glass is only from the 70s. Tell me which of these would not be good to use. Quickly then neutralize somehow: GooGone, mineral oil, denatured alcohol, mayonnaise, cold cream, Windex?
I tried scanning on my HP but the result was poor.
Thanks,
Lynne
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Old 09-12-2011, 08:50 PM
Joe Townsend Joe Townsend is offline
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Re: Removing Photos Stuck to Glass

I have done a number of these. Before you do anything, be sure to get as good a scan through the glass as you can, as a fallback. Not sure why your scan result was poor. Be sure as much of the photo is covered by the glass as you can. The parts actually stuck tend to have a blue tone that is correctable.

I do not recommend any of the chemicals that you have mentioned, especially -- no oils and no solvents such as goo gone (photo gone!)

There is a set of articles on my blog about this. http://tinyurl.com/3vpnbjr
Soak in distilled water, if available. Add a photo wetting agent to the water (i.e., Kodak Photo-Flo Solution). Plan to soak at least 24 hours. Dry slowly. I place them in the ventilated crawl space under my house. See article mentioned.

The most recent such project was a photo printed perhaps in the 80's by a modern machine. It eventually came off the glass but but did not do as well as older photos processed in a traditional darkroom.
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:21 AM
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Re: Removing Photos Stuck to Glass

Photo-Flo is still available from many sources. B&H, Adorama and even Best.com or Rakuten. However, I most often use common dish detergent, a little drop will do the trick BUT I have been known to make the water pretty soapy when trying to remove a color print from glass.

Someone mentioned Cibachrome. The layers of a Cibachrome print can be rock hard when dry but fragile when wet. As with all emulsions when wet require TLC. Some knowledge of the paper its self is important.

As a rule of thumb I try to NOT re-ferrotype recovered images. Many time this results in poor results. Try air drying and then re-copy the print.

Jim Crabtree
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Old 07-14-2013, 07:39 AM
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Re: Removing Photos Stuck to Glass

Thank you for all your posts. Here is my experience. I have a 1990 8 x 10 color family photo on Kodak paper that was stuck to the glass. I decided to take the plunge and planned on soaking the photo.

First, I scanned and took a few digital photos of the picture with various exposures and contrast settings.

Then I soaked the photo in warm water for about an 3 hours with little success and I noticed the photo was getting a bit wavy and the gel was getting sticky on the surface of the photo.

I then decided that a little heat may be needed. This required a second set of gloved hands to hold the glass. I applied low heat gun setting to the glass where the photo was stuck. As the glass heated up and applying a peeling pressure to the photo, the steam between the glass and the photo released the gel. It was like magic watching the steam separate the photo from the glass.

Then the heated glass cracked off at the edge. We should have been wearing safety glasses. Luckily the break did not affect the photo. I was more careful heating the rest of the glass, spreading the heat more evenly and pulling more slowly.

The photo was released with no further damage. I got two paper clips and hung the photo to dry. I did notice some minor curling where it peeled off the glass, but it worked nicely!

Last edited by SkiTX; 07-14-2013 at 07:47 AM.
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