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Thread: Archival stability of dye-transfer prints

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  1. #1

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    Archival stability of dye-transfer prints

    Hi guys, I'm interested in knowing about the archival stability of dye-transfer prints. People say that dye-transfer is one of the most archival processes, but I have also heard that it is quite a fugitive process, and that it has been confused with pigment transfer (which is in fact extremely archival).

    Does anyone have some hard information about this subject (test results, info fromWilhelm, etc.)?

    Thank you in advance for any thoughts,

    ~cj

  2. #2

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    Archival stability of dye-transfer prints

    Hey Chris,

    There may be some useful info on Ctein's web site about die transfer. He is the guru of die transfer. www.ctein.com

    BR

  3. #3

    Archival stability of dye-transfer prints

    To oversimplify a bit, the test results Wilhelm reported in his big book showed Kodak Dye Transfer materials to have dark storage stability equivalent to that of pigment-based processes within the limits of his test, but far inferior to the pigment-based processes, and not even really superior to Cibachrome, for light-fading stability. You can download the book for free from his website now.

    Of course, Kodak dye transfer materials are now gone, save perhaps for Ctein's freezer, and all bets are off with respect to any alternatives now on the market.

  4. #4
    Resident Heretic
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    Archival stability of dye-transfer prints

    Dye transfer, when done right, is quite impressive. I know where there's an Eliot Porter dye transfer print made about 40 years ago. It's been hanging in a guy's living room for many years (no direct sun but plenty of light). This print is, well, stunningly beautiful still. No sign of deterioration. No fading. No color shift. And it's not like it's in a temperature and humidity controlled environment.

    I'll be very impressed if you can get a dye transfer done in the print sizes you seem to favor ;-)

    I'm a little suspicious of this Ctein guy - he seems very proud of himself. But, there are others. I've seen some of Charles Cramer's dye transfers and I think he was a master of dye transfer on the level of Porter. Dye transfer was his printing method of choice for many years, until he had difficulty obtaining the materials. Cramer might well talk to you about it.

    Bruce Watson

  5. #5
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    Archival stability of dye-transfer prints

    Ctein cites Henry Wilhelm's (of Wilhelm Imaging Research fame) 700+ page book ca. 1993 The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs: Traditional and Digital Color Prints, Color Negatives, Slides, and Motion Pictures. It's available free on-line, apparently, at the above link. Looks worth perusing. Hopefully there's an index!

  6. #6
    tim atherton's Avatar
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    Archival stability of dye-transfer prints

    Wilhelms book is THE standard text on (the permanence and care of) colour materials for museums, archives and conservators etc
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

    www.photo-muse.blogspot.com blog

  7. #7

    Archival stability of dye-transfer prints

    I'm a little suspicious of this Ctein guy - he seems very proud of himself.

    Bruce, don't let that relatively minor bit of promotional puffery on Ctein's home page put you off. Some years back I had the opportunity to visit with Ctein and look at his dye portfolio. The prints he showed me did indeed reflect a very high level of technical command of a difficult medium, and on a personal level he was a gracious, friendly and unpretentious host. Whether his pictures are to your taste esthetically is of course up to you, but there's nothing that anyone needs to be "suspicious" of.

  8. #8

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    Re: Archival stability of dye-transfer prints

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    I'm a little suspicious of this Ctein guy - he seems very proud of himself.

    Bruce, don't let that relatively minor bit of promotional puffery on Ctein's home page put you off. Some years back I had the opportunity to visit with Ctein and look at his dye portfolio. The prints he showed me did indeed reflect a very high level of technical command of a difficult medium, and on a personal level he was a gracious, friendly and unpretentious host. Whether his pictures are to your taste esthetically is of course up to you, but there's nothing that anyone needs to be "suspicious" of.
    Bob Pace used to say a dye man's ability could be judged with skin tones. When looking at a printers work, see how the skin tones look. Are they peachy and natural or are they off. TBS, nowadays most dye printers print landscapes or close up of plants. They seem to avoid skin tones like the plague. Maybe just by chance or maybe by desire?



    ...dye transfer print circa 1948 - 1954 U.S Print Co. Portland, OR

  9. #9
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    Archival stability of dye-transfer prints

    I have a "Wash Off Relief" three-color dye tranfer print that is still in excellent conditon (no fading, color rendering stable) that was made in 1936.

  10. #10
    multi format
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    Archival stability of dye-transfer prints

    my uncle has some dye transfers that he did 40-50 years ago that are just as vivid and beautiful as the day he did them. they are hanging on the wall of his house ( central massachusetts) in very un-museum-like conditions.
    http://nanianphoto.com/blog website + blog
    http://imagekind.com/search/nanian % of proceeds sent to charity ( ri food bank + dr's without borders )

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