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

Getting pictures off of regular paper

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Old 12-21-2011, 03:51 PM
dylangrrl dylangrrl is offline
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Question Getting pictures off of regular paper

My mother let my little sister put a bunch of old black and white family pictures on a giant piece of light posterboard about 15 years ago, some with masking tape and some with Scotch tape. They are pretty firmly stuck on the paper. Most have tape only on the back, but some have tape on the front too. My mother-in-law suggested getting some tools, but I don't know what to get. I have also heard of UnDu, but I don't know if that's right either.

Also, some of the pictures have a bend in them from the posterboard being curved in storage. Anyone know how to straighten them out in a timely manner besides putting them under big books?

My father has early onset Alzheimers and I'd like to get these photos in an album for him while he still is himself. Please help!!
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Old 12-21-2011, 04:31 PM
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Tony W Tony W is online now
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Re: Getting pictures off of regular paper

UnDu may work as it is supposed to be photograph friendly however caution should be taken and prior to using it you should IMO get a high quality scan of each individual photograph.

I would suggest cutting around them and including the posterboard backing first (do not try and remove the backing or even the tape on the front at this stage).

Once you have done this and had your first scans made then you can try UnDu. If all goes well have a new set of scans without the tape marks.

As far as flattening goes a weight on top for a day or two may work but it really depends on what has caused the bend. For instance if it is shrinkage of the mounting tape causing the bend it may spring back quite quickly when pressure taken off.

I am not aware of any quick method to do this but it may help to lightly steam the board before placing under a weight. Be aware that there are risks of further damage if you want to try this!
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Old 12-23-2011, 01:55 AM
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plugsnpixels plugsnpixels is offline
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Re: Getting pictures off of regular paper

Like Tony said, hi-res scan everything before starting! You can always remove the tape digitally if need be.

I'm surprised the tape hasn't dried out and given way by now.

This reminds me of a situation of my own, where I borrowed a 100-year old album of snapshot photos from a relative. The photos were glued onto the black construction paper pages using rubber cement. While scanning each and every one in hi-res, I noticed I could peek under and see the edges of writing on the backs of some and became curious for more information (such as, who are these people-!).

After getting permission to do so, I first tried carefully peeling the photos off the paper. That left behind lots of paper residue, so I next soaked the photos in water to loosen the paper (after all, I knew from my own darkroom years that the photos had gotten wet at least once before!). You can see the results attached. Not perfect, but writing that had been hidden since the early 1900s was able to be somewhat read again.
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