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Scanning water-damaged negatives

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Old 03-24-2005, 03:18 PM
kaulike's Avatar
kaulike kaulike is offline
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: the redwood forest
Posts: 64
Scanning water-damaged negatives

Hi all

One of my latest projects is to scan a huge number of family negatives. These are mostly 110 (and some disc film, ugh!). The challenging part is that these were in a basement that flooded about 15 years ago.

Happily, most of the negatives look okay under a loupe, with one catch. The negs were all in standard Kodak carriers, thin polyethylene sleeves with a paper strip attached. Adhesive on both sides of the paper strip made a plastic sleeve for the negative. The water shrank the paper, the adhesive hardened and twisted the plastic around each negative, so the negs are wavy and curled. I have several hundred rolls of these, aka several thousand frames to deal with, that were taken between 1972 and 1990. Ah, the heyday of instamatic 110 film.

I am carefully removing all of the negs from the carriers and putting them into archival sleeve pages. However, the negs retain the waves and curls they got from 15 years in this condition.

I will put weights on them to see if I can straighten them out, but I'm not sure what else to do with them to get good scans. I can make film holders to put them into my film scanner (ScanWit 2720s), but can't hold them flat that way.

An alternative is to sandwich them between a sheet of anti-newton glass and the flatbed on my Epson 3170, which holds them flat but doesn't yield the best scan results---and these tiny, water-damaged frames are going to need all the TLC I can give them.

Any advice is helpful!

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Old 03-24-2005, 08:56 PM
Mike Mike is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Grand Junction CO USA
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My first thought is to try to rewash the negs, say 70 degree water, photo flo, and dry by hanging them up in a dust free space with no heat. I would try that with a strip that you could afford to lose if it does not work right. Do not wash too long or in too strong a water flow. Watch for the emulsion to start peeling off.

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Old 03-25-2005, 03:12 AM
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kaulike kaulike is offline
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: the redwood forest
Posts: 64
Sounds very interesting---my darkroom knowledge is very minimal. I hadn't thought of rewashing. Since this is cheapo 110 I am worried about losing the emulsion, but it is definitely worth a shot, thanks for replying!
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