View Full Version : Negative storage

25-Mar-2008, 20:42
Hello all,
I keep my negatives in Print File archival preserves that are kept in Beseler folders, however I do keep the notes on the negatives in between the Print File sheets. The notes are printed on regular printer paper and placed in acid free sheet protectors. I wonder if this is the setting that is safe for negatives. I mean the paper - it might well be the source of contamination. I wonder how do you store your negatives and the notes relating to them,


26-Mar-2008, 07:34
I have preprinted 3x5 cards on which I write all of my exposure information at the time that I make an exposure (I work in 4x5 most of the time). I almost always make 2 exposures of the same scene, and process one, then decide if I want to process the other half differently - usually both sides end up being processed the same. I then make a contact print of my preferred negative - so I end up with: 2 negatives, one 3x5 card and one contact print. I put each of these four things in one of the pockets for a negative sheet to have everything together. For the images that I really like and end up spending appreciable time printing, I will put my printing notes on the back side of the 3x5 card, or on the back of the contact print.

Nacio Jan Brown
26-Mar-2008, 08:12
I prefer to keep negatives by themselves. I use the three-hole perforated file pages and keep them in archivaly safe cardboard binder/boxes I get from Light Impressions. These boxes aren't open at the edges the way regular binders are. Each box of negatives has a corresponding plastic binder/box of contact sheets. I keep notes on printing along with relevant proofs in archivaly safe envelopes, filed by roll and frame number. In my opinion negatives are a safer storage medium for images than anything digital. Certainly cheaper.

26-Mar-2008, 10:09
The best way to store film is in cold storage.

Sheet film used acetate base until about 2000; Kodak went to all Estar in 2000-01; don't know what the others have done, assume acetate base. Roll film has been on acetate base in one formulation or another since the turn of the 19th century; very early roll film (approx. 1889-1909) will/can be on nitrate base. All film, except Estar base (Mylar or polyester), should be kept in cold storage because the acetate base will fail starting at about age 45 depending on storage conditions and the details of manufacture; some acetate film is 90 years old and still only yellowed and curled. Early stages of deterioration are (1) curling and (2) yellowing, followed by (3) interlayer bubbles and (4) channeling. Unusable acetate film can be salvaged, but this is another story; don’t throw it out.

Polyethylene page protectors are the first level of good storage. Eliminating the sources of acidity is another, although cellulose acetate (film base) generates its own weak acid, acetic acid (Vinegar Syndrome), as it ages. Lowering the temperature slows chemical deterioration (VS), including color dye (dark) fading. See IPI’s publications on Acetate base and Color Dye fading <http://www.imagepermanenceinstitute.org/shtml_sub/cat_pubs.asp> and A-D Strips for accessing the current stage of Vinegar Syndrome in your acetate film collection <http://www.imagepermanenceinstitute.org/shtml_sub/cat_adstrips.asp>.
Some say that including paper (cellulose) in the package acts as absorbent to scavenge the acetic acid evolved by the degrading film. If this is the case, and many suggest that it is, changing the paper every 5-10 years to remove the absorbed acidity is an excellent practice.

Developing an imagebase of thumbnail images and printing information, backed up on two other HDDs, is the recommended method. The information database would be the proper place for information such as (a) printing details and (b) package number in your freezer. Remember index cards can be scanned and images used as information. Scanning negatives in their page protectors for both their image information (transmitted scan) and index cards (reflective scan) is acceptable for making an imagebase and database. The imagebase is not intended to be a digital printing image, just a record so that the original can be located in your files or in cold storage freezer as quickly as possible.

The company Metal Edge Inc. <http://www.metaledgeinc.com/Products.tpl?cart=119264884591711&id1=21&id2=48&startat=1&--woSECTIONSdatarq=48&--SECTIONSword=ww&ran=32> sells “freezer kits.” Sealed bags with good quality cellulose inside is critical, as is a warm-up period before the sealed bags are reopened. An essay on cold storage can be found at <http://videopreservation.stanford.edu/trad_mig/storage_videotape.html> top of the page [by me, sorry]. Sears and other appliance distributors sell 2-4 cu. ft. box freezers for about $200.

Good luck!

Tim Vitale
Paper, Photographs &
Electronic Media Conservator
Film (still) Migration to Digital Format
Digital Imaging & Facsimiles
Preservation & Imaging Consulting
Preservation Associates
1500 Park Avenue
Suite 132
Emeryville, CA 94608

510-594-8799 fax
tjvitale@ix.netcom.com http://briefcase.yahoo.com/tvitale@pacbell.net
[Use of the above URL may require a "Yahoo! ID" to download files.]

Albumen website, 2000 <http://albumen.stanford.edu/>
NEW: VideoPreservation Website <http://videopreservation.stanford.edu>