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Thread: Holes in my old negs!

  1. #1
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    Holes in my old negs!

    I dredged up an old color roll-film negative today to re-scan--the original scan was made on a low-resolution Minolta Multi II and I want to print it bigger than the previous scan will allow.

    After finding the original film in my archive, I made a horrifying discovery. The frame adjacent frame has a tiny hold in it. It really is small--maybe half a millimeter or even less--but it goes right through the film and through the plastic sleeve. There is no impression indicating a puncture wound, but there is a bit of debris visible using a 10x loupe.

    It would appear to me that some very tiny insect has conducted an invasion. There was no evidence of insects in that container of negatives, but I notice another hole on another strip. The negatives are stored in the plastic sleeves the lab used when I had them process. Film is Fuji NPS 160, if it matters.

    I think it's been eight years since I've laid eyes on these negatives.

    Any idea what sort of insect causes that kind of damage, and what I can do about it that won't damage the negatives?

    Rick "for whom this is a first in 35 years of handling negatives" Denney

  2. #2

    Re: Holes in my old negs!

    The first thing that comes to mind is Silverfish (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silverfish) but I'm sure there are other possibilities. The ones we used to get in my country were really small (1/2 - 1 cm or less in length) and these caused long slender holes or sometimes, just a 'dot' type of hole or about 1mm give or take. Traditional 'repellents' included mothballs, but I do not know what sort of effect camphor fumes would have on negs in long term storage. Perhaps a double or triple container approach where the mothballs are used only within the outer-most layer?

    Sorry I can't be more helpful. Never had silverfish attack my negs ... yet.

  3. #3

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    Re: Holes in my old negs!

    There is a kind of moths (if I remember well, from the same family as clothing moth, similar even visually) attracted by chocolate that can easily make holes in plastic material, (e.g. zip log bags). Wouldn't be surprised if they found your film or the sleeves interesting for them for some reason. There are also other kinds of moths that eat keratin and who knows what else...

  4. #4

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    Re: Holes in my old negs!

    There are two insects that will eat the emulsion on film. Silverfish and cockroaches. They appear to like slide and color negatives but not black and white negatives. I've experienced this with some of my film, my real job is as an entomologist and I solve the problem by either storing my film in something they can't get into or treating the area with and insecticide. It is really annoying to find one of your favorite images with chewed up areas.

  5. #5
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    Re: Holes in my old negs!

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Curtis View Post
    There are two insects that will eat the emulsion on film. Silverfish and cockroaches. They appear to like slide and color negatives but not black and white negatives. I've experienced this with some of my film, my real job is as an entomologist and I solve the problem by either storing my film in something they can't get into or treating the area with and insecticide. It is really annoying to find one of your favorite images with chewed up areas.
    Silverfish are at least possible here, but we (thank goodness) do not have cockroaches. But I've certainly never seen a silverfish anywhere near where I keep these negatives, which is in a box sitting under the shelf where I have the scanners and light table. It's on the second floor.

    These were stacked in their sleeves, cut into strips of four, together with the prints, in the envelopes from the lab. I doubt there was much air between these.

    What about mites or fleas? Something too small for me to see?

    Rick "whose most important negatives are in this container" Denney

  6. #6

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    Re: Holes in my old negs!

    OT kind of:

    What is the most enviro+human safe way to get rid of silverfish?

  7. #7

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    Re: Holes in my old negs!

    Go any improvement store and buy any of the permethrin based sprays(small hand spray type) and put a small amount around the area you see the silverfish. Permethrin is the same product that is in shampoo kids use when they contract head lice. You can also buy fine powered boric acid and sprinkle it around the area.

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