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Removing brown stains form old Print

Mark Hansen , Oct 09, 2008; 07:05 p.m.

I have a nice old 8x40 inch print dated July 17, 1929, and it has some brownish stains on it. The effected areas actually look as though the black areas of the print have turned brown. Scanning this image is not an option, and I am pretty good with darkroom chemistry; so a nice chemical solution is what I am after.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



Robert Budding , Oct 09, 2008; 07:32 p.m.

I'd at least scan it in case the original is damaged by the restoration attempt. Actually I'd try a digital restoration first.

Bob Sunley , Oct 09, 2008; 11:22 p.m.

First off you copy it onto film or scan it. Then try chemical restoration on a photo you can afford to turn into a piece of blank paper, or worse.

The image turning brown could be caused by environmental contamination, poor processing, or maybe the print was sepia toned and the toned image is reverting to black. There is no easy way to tell by visual examination.

If you don't know what to do or the causes, send it to a pro.

Randall Ellis , Oct 10, 2008; 08:41 a.m.

If this has any value at all, do not do anything that cannot be reversed in your attempt to work with the print. Poor washing or fixing could be the culprit or it could be environmental damage - only someone who has the print in hand will be able to determine for certain what can be done.

If the print is not valuable and you simply want to play with it, you could fully bleach it in sepia bleach (rehalogenating bleach) and then sepia tone it. There is no guarantee that the print will be evenly toned, depending on the source of the discoloration, but it might be less obtrusive than it is now.

- Randy

Mark Hansen , Oct 10, 2008; 08:43 p.m.

Thanks for the good advice Randy,

I think that is exactly what I will do is give it a good sepia toning. The photograph is a picture of all the employees of a company my grandfather worked for; however, nobody in my family can pick out my young grandfather, so it is of limited sentimental value. My guess is that this print is on printing out paper, considering the size and the 3/8 inch white borders. Any suggestions for a good toner for those old chloride papers.


Frank Schifano , Oct 14, 2008; 12:35 p.m.

Here's an old trick that I learned many years ago, When copying an old, stained print, do so with a yellow filter. This will lighten up the yellow stains and make the traces less obvious when printing the internegative. It works, though its effectiveness is dependent upon the severity of the stains. I did it with some of my father's old prints from his days in the US Navy during and shortly after WW II.

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