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Did I just ruin my negatives?

S L , Oct 31, 2000; 10:05 p.m.

Upon the advice of one of my past instructors - and from some research I did on conservation and preservation - I decided to freeze my negatives to give them some longevity. My process was as follows: sleeved them in archival pages (Printfile), placed each of these pages between some acid-free board to prevent warping, and put these all in Ziplocks from Light Impressions (making sure to squeeze as much air out as possible). I then put them into the freezer (frost-free). Does this sound right? Did I miss something? I am anal retentive when it comes to my work and I would hate to think that I missed a crucial step here. I keep thinking that freezing such delicate material seems so extreme... Please advise me if I've done something wrong so that I don't completely demolish my negatives...


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Tom Luongo , Oct 31, 2000; 11:50 p.m.

Check this out at Wilhelm Research. It has a good article on cold storage. Sounds like the only step that you might have missed is perhaps double bagging everything and adding a humidity indicator.

andrew schank , Oct 31, 2000; 11:58 p.m.

Some of the first negatives I ever took 25 years ago still look good just stored in regular archival neg sleeves in a binder. We wouldn't have any room in our freezer if I had all of my negs stored that way!

John Snyder , Nov 01, 2000; 12:40 a.m.

I believe moisture will migrate through ziplock bags. Bring the film to 25 percent relative humidity and place it in a mylar vapor proof bag....then freeze. Don't freeze Kodak Portra film.

James Hughes , Nov 01, 2000; 12:45 a.m.

I still have negatives when I was 6 months old,I'm 35 now ,and they look very good for almost 35 years old,they were inside a book in&out all this time.

Robert Segal , Nov 01, 2000; 09:53 a.m.

Got a Tupperware box full in my freezer -- I have no choice. Way back when my wife ordered a huge bag of Seattle Filmworks (now "Filmworks.Com") crudzo film, for the wedding and honeymoon, neither of us knew their junk was repackaged movie stock. It's the only way to keep the negs from deteriorating.

(I have since redeemed myself. I have achieved Velvia enlightenment.)

Just be sure to keep 'em de-humidified, SL.

john enman , Nov 01, 2000; 11:18 a.m.

I guess the idea of keeping negatives in a cooler environment is a good idea. I would be worried about humidity as some of the other responces. I regularly print negative for people that are from the early 1900's; most still have contrast. I have found that negatives stored next to each other do loose contrast(and get scratched). My suggestion: store them in a cool room not hot, and in proper sleeves. Lot of information floating around is for old technology and doesn't apply to current manufacturing. John

Russ Rosener , Nov 01, 2000; 05:17 p.m.

Wow. This is hardcore archival anal retentiveness. Not even Ansel Adams' negatives are stored with this much care! You didn't mention if these were color or black & white negatives. In either case, such extreme measures are unnecessary unless you live at the equator. In fact the best thing you can do is keep them in the dark, and dry. Freezing and then thawing is likely to cause moisture to build up, and that's not good. Besides, you have to defrost them out before you print! I would just keep them in archival boxes in a dry dark closet.

Samuel Dilworth , Nov 01, 2000; 07:34 p.m.

Humidity is not a problem. Air at -18 degrees C and 25% humidity holds far less water per litre than air at 25 degrees C and 25% humidity. Humidity in this sense is RELATIVE, not ABSOLUTE. It's the absolute value that you should worry about, and it's not a problem in a typical freezer. (Just don't let the RH get to 100% - saturated air will release water which will form on negative!)

John Kantor , Nov 02, 2000; 03:57 p.m.

If you really want to preserve your images, you'll also get high-quality scans made of them. Multiple digital copies are the only thing that will save them from accidental destruction.

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