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

Wrinkled b&w negatives

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Old 01-31-2016, 02:39 PM
dhfessler dhfessler is offline
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Wrinkled b&w negatives

I've acquired a number of badly wrinkled negatives which I'm trying to scan. I've noticed that in some of them the backing has started to separate from the emulsion. Is there a way to 'flatten' the wrinkles from the separated emulsion so that I can get a decent scan?
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Old 02-01-2016, 02:38 AM
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JoReam JoReam is offline
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Re: Wrinkled b&w negatives


I don't know if this will help but I have had a similar problem with the emulsion lifting and bubbling in a print to the extent that it obscured information in the image. As the print surface was uneven I could not flatten it enough to reduce the damage when I scanned the image.

So I tried scanning the print in different directions as you would with a heavily textured image and then placing each scan on a separate layer in Photoshop and using a combination of masks to reduce some of the damage. I was then left with a lot of cloning/ healing etc.

I still have one area of one of the faces in the image that needs a little more work as I was not able to flatten this area in scanning, or hide the damage so i would be interested to know what other solutions there might be to this problem.
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Old 02-01-2016, 10:28 AM
Mike Mike is offline
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Location: Grand Junction CO USA
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Re: Wrinkled b&w negatives

IF and its a big IF, the emulsion is NOT separating from the base, then you might be able to rewash the film and see if this would help you get the wrinkles out. Hang it to dry and place some weight on the bottom to help it flatten.

IF the emulsion is separating from the base do NOT wash it.

If you cannot flatten it in a scanner, you could try this. Place it under a very heavy sheet of glass (maybe with the edges of the glass held down with weights) and copy it with a camera. If it still is not perfectly flat, adjust the f stops to give you enough depth of field to cover the ups and downs of the original. Remember that you are going to have to have two sheets of glass and backlight the negatives.

Anyway that's what we used to do. Good luck!
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:08 PM
dhfessler dhfessler is offline
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Re: Wrinkled b&w negatives

Thanks for the reply.

In some cases the emulsion is separating from the base with a little help. In other cases the base is very brittle and can be 'peeled' off. I just tried washing one of these and the layers separate. In this case (Ansco Safety Film) there are three layers - a thin flexible upper layer, a brittle mid layer, and the emulsion. Having removed the two upper layers I'm letting the emulsion dry to see if I can work with it.
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