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Getting negatives ready to be scanned

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to ask this kind of question on this Forum but I'll give it a try. I've just bought an Epson Perfection V550 scanner and I want to start scanning lots of negatives, some of them are quite old, and they are a mess. I believe Isopropyl Alcohol sprinkled on a dust free cloth and wiped very gently over the top of the negatives is one of the best ways of doing it, but I'm reluctant to do anything until I've heard from someone experienced. I would appreciate some help.

Comments

  • SummerSummer -
    edited November 26


    I have scanned many 35mm slides and negatives in an Epson scanner and have hundreds more to do.  I would try using a cotton-polyester cloth with distilled water.  Anything stronger than that you might consult an expert.  Do you have a photography store in town?  I was able to print them to files as well as print them out on an inkjet printer.  Other types of printers, like laser types, would also do the job but I haven't had any hands-on experience with those.  Good luck and please post your findings here.  I would be interested what you find out.

    Summer
  • Dianna

    Dust, fingerprints and static are your enemies. 100% ISO Alcohol, nitrile gloves and linen cloth are your friends. Work on a cool humid day. Water will soften and swell the negative’s gelatine emulsion and provide a home for mould spores.
    A can of compressed air may be all you need. Damp sponge all the work surfaces. 

    Give some thought to storage capacity, locations, ( hard disc, thumb drive, DVD, cloud) categories, captions, file names, dates.

    Denis

  • @Summer ;  Thank you for your recommendations.  I will definitely post the results here.  I am going to follow @dencal 's advice and use 100% ISO Alcohol, nitrile gloves (whatever they are) and linen cloth (presumably I will find suitable some cloth on ebay)   Most days at the moment are humid, and the air-conditioner will make the temperature reasonably cool.  I have hundreds to do as well, Summer - so it's important to get it right.  Thank you for your advice Denis.
    Summer
  • @Summer ;  I have recently joined an online trainer in Photoshop called Damien Symonds.   damiensymonds.net. He was recommended by a friend who does Photo Restoration for a living.  He offers courses in many aspects of Photoshop and Photography, the first online training course he offers is a $10 course in Bridge which he swears is the best cataloging software out there in his opinion.  His online courses are very reasonably priced although not as low as $10 of course.  I think there is also a Forum attached to his website although I'm unclear at this stage how to use it. I have a feeling that it might be as useful to people in the Photoshop side of things as Mark's DMP Forum is for art. I'm looking forward to becoming more familiar with it. Now I'm off to the shops to get some nitrile gloves and some linen cloth.  I've already got the ISO Alcohol.  I might even do some scanning tonight.  Yeah.
    Summer
  • dencaldencal -
    edited November 25
    Dianna

    Linen tea towels can be purchased at quite good prices.
    Nitrile gloves are cheap disposables bought by the box. Used by medicos and food handlers. Bunnings 100  @ $10.75.
    An air conditioner will strip the humidity out of the air. Wait for a cool day or work in the evening.

    Denis



  • Thank you @dencal ;   I bought some linen at Spotlight today but she said I could either buy linen that is 100% flax or did I want the linen that is mixed with cotton?  Why is everything so complicated? So I bought just a small amount of 100% linen, but it seems rough to me - although I don't really know how to judge it.  I will buy a linen teatowel and I might also buy a lint-free cloth from Harvey Norman.

    I got the nitrile gloves at Bunnings but they are large and horrible, they only have XLarge, no medium for heaven's sake. What, don't women use them?  But they will probably be ok.  I will make sure there is a fair amount of humidity before I start cleaning the negatives. Thank you for warning me about the air-conditioner. It won't take too much time to clean the negatives, compared to scanning them which will take forever.    Thank you again for all your help and I hope this information is helping Summer too.
  • Dianna

    it will all be good. There is no need to be fastidious, just as long as you minimise and avoid the problems.
    Bunnings is a bit of a “blokes” store. Coles etc carry them too. The linen should soften up after a couple of washes, the tea towels should be soft on purchase.

    Denis

  • SummerSummer -
    edited November 25
    Thanks @Dencal and @Dianna.  I'll try the alcohol instead of droplets of distilled water and use laundered softened linen or a linen blend of cloth next time instead of the soft poly-cotton I had been using.  With the nitrile gloves, there should be a noticeable improvement in my work flow and results of the scanned images.  Summer
    dencal
  • Thank you @dencal ;  I am quite intimidated by the idea of working with negatives because it is so easy to damage them.  Mind you, I have spent my entire life throwing them around as though they were covered in laminated plastic!  I will check out the nitrile gloves at Coles today. Onwards and upwards......  I can't wait to clean my first negative!
  • dencaldencal -
    edited November 26
    Summer

    Poly-cotton is soft but it generates static and sheds a lot of fiber. This entails a lot of time and effort in photoshop cleaning up.

    Denis

    Summer
  • SummerSummer -
    edited November 27
    dencal said:
    Summer

    Poly-cotton is soft but it generates static and sheds a lot of fiber. This entails a lot of time and effort in photoshop cleaning up.

    Denis

    That explains why I had to do a lot of blowing on the slides and negatives during that part of digitizing those slides and negatives. 
  • OK I'm in the dark here. Why are we interested in scanning negatives. Can the scans be converted to photographs? wouldn't it be better to have them developed and printed. The process of developing will clean them won't it?
  • dencaldencal -
    edited November 27
    BOB73

    Ease of access to old images where there are no prints, faded or damaged prints.
    Ability to low cost, share, family memories with relatives and friends.
    With time, negatives, printed photos and slides fade in color.
    Also color shift happens due to chemical reactions.
    They can easily get scratches or can be damaged mechanically.
    Protection from insect and mould attack.
    Printed photos/negatives are prone to natural calamities.
    Archival improvement.
    Compact storage.
    Creation of collage display and photo books.
    Digital enhancement.
    Commercial processing of negatives and paper prints awkward, costly and laborious.

    etc. etc.

    Denis


    PaulB
  • Well, @BOB73, it’s good to have you in the dark for a change. Yes, the scans can be converted to photographs.  1st clean the negative (very tricky)  2nd scan as jpeg in special scanner that has light going THROUGH the negatives  3rd Then import into Photoshop or whatever and convert to positive image and enhance/improve (that’s a fairly rough interpretation of what happens) and then email to good old Harvey Norman to get prints done.

     

    The relevance for me as an artist, for instance, is that I intend to do a portrait of “Jeana” but the only record I have is a photograph which is about 40 years old. It’s in bad condition. So I was thrilled when I went through the 500 negatives I intend to scan when I found the original negative of “Jeana”.   Now I will have a much improved image to paint from.

     

    As Denis pointed out, there are lots of other reasons, too,  why people want to scan negatives.

     

    My father created the most wonderful genealogical albums – 7 of them - for our family going back several hundred years. He was very creative and the albums contain all kinds of delicious documents, images, newspaper clippings, personal stories etc. from the past. I consider it one of the duties of my old age to digitize all of the contents of these albums so that they can be preserved for future generations.  True, this won’t include scanning negatives, but rather scanning hard-copy images into digital form to ensure their survival.

     

    I hope all this makes perfect sense to you, Bob.  I hope you are keeping well.

     






  • Picture Perfect! Sense I mean. The genealogical tasks are important as you say for future generations and not just the family. Historians rely more and more on personal letters and deeds etc. to fill in the gaps in important historical events. I can trace my maternal side back to 1400 England. The first to arrive in America came in 1640. So I'm pretty lucky that someone  started collecting information back before the Revolution and made plans for safekeeping. Don't think they were digitizing much back then. Thanks very much for the clear explanation.
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