Pegs Vintage Shop

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How To Restore And Store Old Antique Family Photos And Pictures

This article explains methods of antique photograph restoration as well as the proper care to ensure the longevity of the photographs.

Some people view and treat antique photographs as dispensable pieces of paper and often store them in the worst places. As a result, the images are often stained, torn or faded. Fortunately, you can correct existing problems and take steps to ensure that your photos are not damaged in the future.
Loose photographs stored in antique albums, old cardboard boxes or envelopes can suffer the effects of acid and lignin. These chemicals are found in most paper products. Both chemicals can stain your images an ugly shade of yellow and turn your antique photographs brittle.

Natural occurring chemicals are not photographs' only enemies. Drastic temperature changes can fade your images. Dampness can produce mold that will eat the photographic emulsions (image sides) of your pictures. Thus, storing your antique photos in the attic or basement is never a good idea.

Thankfully, photographs that have been damaged due to these conditions can be restored. It is advisable, however, that you find a professional restorer to tackle the process. The types of antique photograph restoration are electronic restoration, chemical restoration, physical restoration, airbrush restoration and copying.

In electronic restoration, a photo is scanned into a computer and the restorer decides what techniques are needed from electronic signals on the monitor. This is, essentially, a complicated cousin of photo editing software. However, the technology used in this process is not perfect and equipment costs make this method too pricey for the average consumer.

Chemical restoration is generally used on faded black and white images. By redeveloping an image in black and white developer, the once oxidized silver in the paper once again becomes silver metal, making the image visible. A more involved process involves bleaching your photograph and redeveloping it. However, the latter method can cause irreparable damage to your photograph.
The process of physical restoration uses a blend of neutron irradiation, autoradiography and photography to restore faded images. This is a highly recommended restoration method as it is non-destructive, but it is not easily available.

Airbrushing is computer editing without the computer. In traditional airbrushing, an artist uses a special paintbrush to restore lost details to a photograph, correct defects or change aspects of a photograph. Airbrushing can even remove a person entirely. However, if an artist applies this method too heavily, your photograph will not look realistic.

Copying is the least expensive restorative method. You can ask a lab professional to copy your old photographs. Old negatives can be copied as well using special camera equipment. By doing this, you will have a back up for additional restoration, editing or a base in which to make additional copies.

After all that restorative work, it wouldn't make sense to store your images improperly. Acid free photo album pages, photo corners and storage boxes (also, lignin free) are available to help you organize and store your images.

If you prefer plastic page protectors to paper album pages, then look for protectors that do not contain Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC). This chemical will turn your images sticky and yellow over time.

After you organize your images, you should store them in a cool, dry place, such as a closet. The balanced conditions will ensure the longevity of you unique images.

Of course, you still have the option of displaying your antique images. If you do this, you will want to use metal frames. Wooden frames (like paper) contain chemicals that can damage your pictures.

When matting an antique photograph or any photograph for that matter, you should use acid free mat board (a.k.a. rag board). Acid free linen tape should be used to hinge the two parts of your mat together. Do not tape your antique photograph to the mat, but use acid free photo corners to attach it. Once the tape is applied to your photograph, you will not be able remove it without damaging the photograph in the process.

Finally, you should use special UV blocking glass in your frame or position your photograph away from direct sunlight. Long-term UV exposure will drastically fade your images. Most frame stores carry UV blocking glass. It's a bit expensive, but it's worth the price to protect your pictures.

Remember, your antique photographs aren't easily replaced pieces of paper. These images are unique treasures and should be treated with respect. Given the proper care, they will be valuable family heirlooms that your descendants will be thankful for one day.

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