Monday, February 27, 2012

Photo Preservation Guide Part 3: Handling Disasters and Professional Help

This is the final part of a three part series on preservation; the first served as the introduction to proactively create archival prints, the second focused on handling, exhibition, storage, and environment; and this part explains the conservation treatment. If prints are processed archivally, and handled and stored properly, the most common reason a print would need conservation treatment is due to some sort of disaster. There are disasters a non-professional can handle, and ones they cannot, and below I will explain when it's time to call on a professional for help.
photos that got wet and stuck together

Types of Disasters: Working in the field of preservation, I get called for all sorts of imprudent occurrences that have happened to items. A cat urinated on the photograph, the carrier’s truck partially exploded, a viewer showed the photographs’ visceral affect it had on her by spray painting it, as well as more common and ordinary manifests such as floods, fires, and fading. The field of preservation can be viewed as a type of healthcare; one must treat their items well, protect them from harm, use care to avoid the sun, go for check-ups, but also, at times, a doctor is needed.

negatives in a bucket of water

Handling Disasters: Last year, a few days after Hurricane Irene plagued the east coast and flooded nearly everyone I know, I got an unexpected call from a friend in great need. The basement of his parents’ home in upstate New York flooded; and the basement is where his mother stored family photo albums. Now, the basement is not a place to store such heirlooms as I have explained in the second part of this series, however, the reality is that many people use both basements and attics for storage. In this disaster, everything was under water, there was no electricity, and the area was in a state of emergency. So, the best advice I could give over the phone and to an untrained preservation professional, was to keep the negatives wet and begin to air dry the prints as soon as possible. Negatives can stay in water much longer than prints, so the first thing to do is place all of the negatives in a bucket of clean, fresh water, and tend to the prints. Wash the photographs in clean water and air-dry hang as one would after producing the print. During a disaster, this may be less ideal or a less archival process than one would do in the darkroom, but it saves the print! As long as it is washed in clean water and hung to dry, it prevents the photographs from sticking to one another as well as prevents mold from growing.  When dealing with wet materials, it is important to keep air circulating, lights on (mold grows in moist, dark places), and monitor continuously. The prints may curl but can be flattened later. The important thing is to get the prints apart before they have time to fuse together or grow mold. Once the prints are hanging to dry, the negatives can be fully washed, put through hypo, and then dried as if processing all over again.
air-drying prints

Professional Help: Almost all other disasters will require professional help. If photographs are damaged through chemical breakdowns, harmed during exhibition, killed during transportation, punctured, burnt, red wine sodden, faded, sliced, painted, placed in the oven (I have heard the most ridiculous of tales throughout the years!), a photo conservator is needed to repair the damage. Conservators are highly trained, typically embodying a fine combination of scientific knowledge and artistic ability. The conservator performs invasive single-item treatment, and in following the healthcare analogy, they are the specialist doctors, the ones you usually need a referral for. The professional organization for conservators, The American Institute for Conservation, has a website that serves as a referral for finding photographic conservators via geographic locations. One can also always call a local university, seeking out the preservation department to ask for a referral as well as share the disaster story, a tale that is always returned with sympathy by the preservation professional no matter how many he or she has heard over the years. All of this being said however, conservation is expensive and should be reserved for special, irreplaceable prints. So, take caution as much as possible in the general health and well-being of your photographs, and properly store the negatives in case disaster does strike. 
a look inside Kate's conservation lab
a look inside Kate's conservation lab

Read on in this mini series on Photo Preservation-
Part 1: In the Darkroom
Part 2: Handling, Exhibiting, and Storing

Hope you enjoyed and learned from this preservation series. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, or to share any disaster stories – I never grow tired of helping or lending a sympathetic ear! Best of luck for longevity.  -Kate


Bio:
Kate Contakos is Head of the Preservation Department at Stanford University, and was a founding member of Shutterclank! (film photography magazine). She shoots black and white film on her Leica, Mamiya, and Nikon, and spends lots of time in her custom built darkroom in her loft in San Francisco. She is currently addicted to Ilford’s MG Art cotton rag paper.

Find her here-
Twitter: @contakos
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/contakos/
Shutterclank!: http://www.shutterclank.com/


Further Reading and Resources

Books:
Adams, Ansel. The Print. Little, Brown and Company: Boston, 1983.

Issues in the Conservation of Photographs. Ed. Debra Hess Norris and Jennifer Jae Gutierrez. The Getty Conservation Institute: Los Angeles, 2010.

Lavedrine, Bertrand. A Guide to the Preventive Conservation of Photograph Collections. The Getty Conservation Institute: Los Angeles, 2003.

Rempel, Siegfried. The Care of Photographs. Nick Lyons Books: New York, 1987.


Web:
American Institute for Conservation Photographic Materials Group:
http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/pmg/index.html

Gawain Weaver’s Care and Identification of Photographs Workshops:
http://gawainweaver.com/

Image Permanence Institute:
https://www.imagepermanenceinstitute.org/

George Eastman House:
http://www.eastmanhouse.org/

Friday, February 24, 2012

Being a Camera Operator for TV

Today we have a guest post from Samuel McQueen sharing his story about his journey to become a camera operator...

I'm currently a work for hire director/cameraman in Chicago, Illinois, working under my production company Forward Thought Media. I've been in the Television Industry since 1988, where I first worked professionally with Black Entertainment Television as a production assistant. Not completely knowing if television was for me, I quit after a year and decided to go back to school.

Not able to rid myself of that urge to look through a viewfinder, I bought a Canon AE-1 35mm camera and a Canon 814 Super 8mm camera. I began shooting whatever I could with both cameras and became interested in film.

Possessing the tenacity to make looking through a viewfinder my career,  I started producing music videos after transferring to film school at Columbia College in Chicago. My lighting professor at the time, who was a working Director of Photography, took me under his wing and we started working professionally together shortly thereafter. He became my mentor. We were producing real jobs while also shooting student projects. We went from shooting 16mm film with a Bolex to shooting Super 16 with an Arri SRIII 16mm and 35mm film with an Arri BL, PANAVISED ARRI III, and Arriflex 535. The goal was to shoot the best looking footage with a low budget. I shot a lot of low budget music videos using these cameras, shooting 16mm and 35mm film shorts, stealing locations and completing post-production at post-houses after hours.
 


In 1994, I started producing music videos and commercials, but in 95' I decided to go back into television. I worked for Harpo Productions where I became a Tech Assist after many years of being an Audience Producer for The Oprah Winfrey Show. Although I loved being an audience producer, I was still in love with making images. Since I had worked extensively in the industry, I was given the opportunity to shoot local stories for my production team. Once the producers realized I could shoot, I was asked to shoot more projects. I shot lots of behind-the-scenes and pretty much became one of the technical go-to guys on the show.

Shooting the Oprah show

In 2004, the Oprah show began to adopt a new look. We adopted the Cinéma vérité style, which was right up my alley after shooting so many low-budget projects, hand-held to give them a real-life feel. Up to this point, I had never really used a video camera, only film cameras. The shows new look became a hit with the producers and the audience reaction was also great. I believe this look shaped the way daytime television talk shows are shot today, and I was proud to be involved in that process.

During this time, I also shot video for many different outside companies such as Time Magazine, Extra, and Access Hollywood. While all of this was great, working on a documentary piece in Africa is what really changed me. The story profiled an American who traveled to Uganda as a missionary and witnessed homeless, HIV infected children dying on the streets of Kampala Uganda. Haunted by these images, he decided to start an orphanage. We shot 10 days in a challenging environment and created a very powerful piece (you can view the video here). This side project was the project that gave me the confidence to know I could become a Director of Photography.




Since then, I finished up the Oprah Show through the final season, started shooting video work on D-SLR's, and shot some more commercials and other behind the scenes and documentary projects. 

The industry is constantly changing, as is the equipment that we use, and while I started out shooting 8 and 16mm, I now shoot mainly on D-SLR’s or large sensor cameras. A few cameras that I have shot with recently include the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D, Red One, Sony FS-100, and the Sony NEX-5n.

My advice to anyone wanting to become a camera operator or filmmaker is to be passionate and shoot, shoot, shoot. I know it may sound cliché, but it really is about learning. Study movies or TV shows that you like. Figure out how it works. Educate yourself. Shoot like there’s no tomorrow. You should learn something new each time, that’s how you get better. Learn from each experience and keep that passionate fire in your belly and drive to get better each time you look thorough the viewfinder. Remember that it’s better to fail at something you love then to succeed at something you hate. My life is devoted to looking through the lens, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

To see some of Samuel McQueen's videos for Forward Thought Media, check out his Vimeo channel.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

KEH Updates and News

There's a few things I wanted to address real quick since we have been getting a lot of questions and having recent discussions about the following topics...

As-Is Equipment- Yes, we recently posted a blog article (which has seen been temporarily pulled) that talked about the As-Is, or AI category at KEH. It happened to be ironic and bad timing , but a few days after the article was published the category needed to be suddenly (and temporarily) taken off the web. For now, the AI inventory is not available for sale. We are having an internal evaluation of the entire category and in the process of determining the future of it. We apologize for any inconvenience, and will let you know when it's back up and available to shop in again. 

Increased Buy Prices- We have RAISED our buy-prices on tons of digital camera bodies, lenses, and accessories, which means we are paying the highest market prices in order to increase our digital product inventory. So if you have been thinking about selling or trading some of your digital equipment, now is the time! You can either call one of our professional buyers at 770-333-4220 or 1-800-342-5534 for a quote, or use our online quote engine- Just click HERE to access.    

Nikon Repairs- You may have already heard (we posted links on the Facebook and Twitter pages last week), but a hot industry topic right now is that Nikon has announced that they will stop selling replacement parts to independent repair shops. How does this affect you and us? Well, Nikon won't let a company be both an authorized dealer (seller) and an authorized repair shop, so we have chosen to be a Nikon authorized dealer. This means that even though our repair technicians are fully trained, and we offer exceptional repair services, you may no longer be able to get your Nikon gear repaired at KEH, which in turn will also lead to longer repair times by having to go directly through Nikon Repair. For more information and to sign the official Change.org petition, click here.

The Catalog- People have been wondering why they have not received one of our printed catalogs since last fall. Well, we have (temporarily) discontinued it. We didn't think people were still reading them, especially since by the time they received them, they were typically already out of date because our inventory moves so fast. But the demand has been great for it, so we will be bringing it back. So why the delay? We are reinventing it! It will still have a lot of the same great qualities, but have an updated design with some new features added. We don't have an exact launch date on this yet, but we are expecting the first issue later this year, possibly this summer. We have some really exciting things in store for it, so the wait will totally be worth it!

And since we haven't had a recent catalog, some people have requested this little form that is usually in it. It's not necessary, but if you would like, you can save the image below, print, and send it in with your equipment. 
 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Photo Preservation Guide Part 2: Handling, Exhibiting & Storing

This is the second part of a three part series on preservation; the first served as the introduction to proactively create preservationally sound prints. This part will focus on handling, exhibition, storage, and environment. The final part will explain the invasive conservation treatment of these prints. 


Whereas it is extremely important to process a print archivally, the handling, exhibiting, storing, and environment play an equally important role in its permanence. Below is a number of steps to take to ensure the longevity of a print, whether it's a print you produced yourself, a print purchased for a collection, or even an antique family photo.

Handling: Hands are dirty. Even after washing them, all sorts of natural oils exist that can cause harm to photographs and negatives alike. To ensure that no potential oil or dirt gets onto the print or negative, always wear gloves when handling these materials. Some manual dexterity is lost when wearing gloves though, so use extra care and caution when handling with gloves. Typically, I use powder-free nitrile gloves when handling negatives [latex gloves are also fine to use, however, many people have allergies to latex and nitrile are latex-free], and white cotton gloves when handling prints. Even when wearing gloves, avoid touching the image of the print and handle the print by its sides and corners.

Handle photographic prints with gloves, and never touch the image

Exhibiting: Whether displaying prints in a private home or exhibiting in a gallery, matting and framing should serve to protect and promote easy handling, as well as present a visually stunning support for the work. There are many ways to mount the photograph: dry mounting to a board, corner tab mounting to a board, window mats, and direct matting to name a few. Whichever method is chosen, the most important advice is to use the best materials possible. For all paper products used, select materials that are acid-free, lignin-free, cotton rag, archival, and/or unbuffered. These terms are used in various ways, so don’t feel shy to ask which is the most archivally sound or safe material to use. Another consideration is that the mounting and framing is reversible. The photograph should always be able to be safely removed from its frame and stored appropriately after its display. I have seen some atrocities which probably seemed like an interesting idea at the time, such as gluing a photograph to a piece of wood, but after a few years the thing had nearly decomposed because the adhesive from the glue combined with the chemical decomposition of the wood, combined and formed a deadly attack on the photograph. So before getting too creative, think about longevity and long-term access.

Corner-mounted print on a 4-ply archival mount board

Storing: When preparing for storage, it is important to remember that a photographic print is a whole bunch of chemistry sitting atop paper. Enclosures and sleeves help protect photographs from pollution, accidental damage through inappropriate handling, and random gashes. There are many options to protect prints, the most common is to interleave with paper and stack prints in an archival box, or store prints in sleeves and then place in a box. When interleaving with paper, it is imperative to use acid-free, archival, unbuffered paper. The paper serves as a buffer between the prints so the chemistry does not migrate to the next print, as well, it makes it easier to handle the print by using the paper as a carrier support to lift it in and out of the box. If using plastic sleeves instead of paper dividers, by sure to use archival quality sleeves that do not contain PVC. Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is commonly used but its chemical make-up is not stable for long-term storage. It will eventually deteriorate and release plasticizers and other chemicals into the photograph that will degrade the print over time. Safe plastics to use are polyester, most commonly called mylar or melinex. It is fine to insert prints into these sleeves, and then store in an archival box.

Environment: Stability is key. It is imperative to have a non-fluctuating temperature and relative humidity. That said, it is ideal to have a cool temperature and a relative humidity of less than 50%, however, keeping a stable environment is the most important. The beauty of black and white film, for me, is multifaceted, but one aspect is the longevity. Unlike a chromogenic print, a digital image, or resin-coated paper, black and white film is a survivor. When processed appropriately and stored properly, the negatives and prints will last hundreds of years. However, if squirreled away in a scorching attic, damp basement, or in direct sunlight, you will out live both the negatives and prints. So, when deciding where to store the boxes of prints and negatives, avoid the darkroom, basement, and attic; if storing in your home, a closet can be quite safe, as well as drawers in an unused dresser. Flux, unless referring to the art movement, is terrible for any artwork. A drawer or closet can provide a small micro-environment within the larger, slightly more fluctuating temperature throughout a home.

Shrunken, irreparable negative due to extreme heat conditions

An example of what heat can do to a negative is shown in the above image. I came across this negative in an archive of a famous photographer. Massive shrinkage occurred due to heat. Sadly, this cannot be reversed and the negative cannot be saved.


Stay tuned for the third (and final) part of this preservation series, which will address conservation treatment- what to do when disasters strike, how to salvage materials yourself, and when to seek professional conservation help.

Read on in this mini series on Photo Preservation-
Part 1: In the Darkroom 
Part 3: Handling Disasters and Professional Help


Bio:
Kate Contakos is Head of the Preservation Department at Stanford University, and was a founding member of Shutterclank! (film photography magazine). She shoots black and white film on her Leica, Mamiya, and Nikon, and spends lots of time in her custom built darkroom in her loft in San Francisco. She is currently addicted to Ilford’s MG Art cotton rag paper.

Find her here-
Twitter: @contakos
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/contakos/
Shutterclank!: http://www.shutterclank.com/


Further Reading and Resources

Books:
Adams, Ansel. The Print. Little, Brown and Company: Boston, 1983.

Issues in the Conservation of Photographs. Ed. Debra Hess Norris and Jennifer Jae Gutierrez. The Getty Conservation Institute: Los Angeles, 2010.

Lavedrine, Bertrand. A Guide to the Preventive Conservation of Photograph Collections. The Getty Conservation Institute: Los Angeles, 2003.

Rempel, Siegfried. The Care of Photographs. Nick Lyons Books: New York, 1987.


Web:
American Institute for Conservation Photographic Materials Group:
http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/pmg/index.html

Gawain Weaver’s Care and Identification of Photographs Workshops:
http://gawainweaver.com/

Image Permanence Institute:
https://www.imagepermanenceinstitute.org/

George Eastman House:
http://www.eastmanhouse.org/

Friday, February 17, 2012

Photos of the Month

my dog, the sock puppet (good vibes appreciated)
My dog, the sock puppet, by: Little Pink Weeble
Jack
Jack, by: Sequouia Creative
Luis
Luis, by: RV Henretty-Jornales
L52007
L52007, by: danbairdmiller
What is where?
What is where?, by: Mathew Brown
Tomates
Tomates, by: domyzio
7616_20A
Untitled (Jumpin'), by: Rolf Schmolling
Alaina_2_4
Alaina_2_4, by: d_perlmutter 

.
Untitled (wetplate), by: berntln
Landscapes of Tawang
Landscapes of Tawang, by: Angad Singh



* All photos submitted to the KEH Flickr Group

Thursday, February 16, 2012

KEH Buying Event February 23-25



We are hosting an in-house buying event on February 23rd, 24th, and 25th at our Smyrna, GA location. You can bring your unwanted, used photographic gear to either sell or trade. You can choose to get a check on the spot, or receive a 10% trade-in bonus and receive your trade-in order while waiting, or choose a gift certificate to shop at a later date.

We are currently paying top dollar for digital photography equipment including bodies, lenses, and major accessories (we're sorry, but we are not currently purchasing lighting, darkroom equipment, or point and shoot film cameras at this time).

KEH Camera does not have a retail showroom and does not typically have same-day trade-in options. This is a special event where you will receive quick turn around on selling or trading services. During the 3-day event, we are also offering on-the-spot sensor cleanings from our repair department for $20 (regularly $45). Be sure to bring a valid I.D., and preview the inventory of available stock online if you wish to make a trade- www.keh.com

Event Hours: Thursday, February 23rd- Saturday 25th, 10 AM – 4 PM
Location: 4900 Highlands Parkway SE Smyrna, GA 30082

Hope to see you there! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Giveaway Winner + Survey Result Highlights


Survey Result Highlights:
The results of the blog reader survey were varied, with answers covering all ends of the spectrum. But here are some of the results that dominated...

Most of the people answering (not all regular blog readers as an email went out to all KEH customers) are male, and over 35. Intermediate - Advanced level, and primarily hobbyist/ semi-pro photographers. We also had a bunch of photo educators which was great to see.

Most of you do not have any professional photography training, although there were still a large number of you that did. The preferred mediums were- Digital SLR's in at #1, 35mm at #2, and Medium Format at #3.

The vast majority of our readers are in fact KEH customers, and would like to see content posted either once a day or a few times a week (great, this is exactly the frequency we've been at!).

For favorite types of posts, "Tips" took the #1 spot. Other favorites are (not in any order): Film, equipment maintenance, troubleshooting, Items for sale, behind the scenes, guides, cameras, lenses, lighting, DIY and crafts, digital, and Photos of the month/ featured photographers.

Facebook still seems to be the winner for the #1 social media site that you are both on, and follow us on.

Now, lets get down to some of the nitty gritty. Many of the responses were either really helpful or wonderful to read. We have such a variety of customers and readers that of course all of the content can't suit every single individual all of the time. That's why we try to have a variety, so that there is often something for everyone, no matter what system you prefer, what skill level you are at, or what type of photography you are passionate about.

Topics. We had so many great topic suggestions, so thank you all for that! I will start looking into some of these very soon. I would like for you to keep something in mind though... sometimes someone suggests a topic, which is usually a great topic idea, but the reason we may not follow up and post about it is because we don't have someone to write it. We try really hard to post content that comes from a knowledgeable source. We want to make sure that the writer knows what they are talking about, is a decent writer, can communicate the information effectively, and of course has the time (and agrees) to write it. This is often a difficult combination to find, and if it's a topic that we are not 100% confident that we know enough about to share, then we don't want to write about it just to write about it, because that really doesn't end up benefiting anyone. As an example of this, someone suggested topics on astrophotograhy. That sounds great, but I personally know nothing about that, and I don't know of anyone else here that is well versed in it either. So in order to cover this topic appropriately, we would need to find an outside contributor. Then, make sure that their craft is up to par, they have an interesting topic to share, and that they actually have decent writing skills. If this describes you, then please let us know, but until then, you probably won't see much on this topic here- sorry. 

I was a little surprised to see so many of you wanting more film topics! We can definitely do this, so do stay tuned for more on film in the future.

There were a lot of suggestions for topics or features that we have already covered or have available. "Invite reader contributions"- we do! Check out the "Contribute" tab at the top of the page for more information. There are also a few ways to go back and find these topics easily... you can look under the "Article Index" tab at the top of the page, search by label (or topic) under the "Topic Quick Links" on the right of the page, or enter keywords into the "Search this blog" box on the right also.

To finish this all up, I want to say that I read each and every comment and that we really do value your opinion. Thank you to everyone who participated and we hope you'll keep coming back!


Giveaway Winner:
Now that many of you have been waiting for, the winner of our recent blogiversary and blog reader survey giveaway is... Brett Hammond! Congrats Brett! Please email us at kehcamerablog(at)gmail(dot)com to claim your prize.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Photo Preservation Guide Part 1: In the Darkroom

To understand preserving gelatin silver prints, one must understand the make-up of these materials. I will briefly explain the physical nature of paper and the chemistry used in creating these prints, and then explain the best practices in creating long-term archival prints. This is the first part of a three part series on preservation, this serving as the introduction to proactively create preservationally sound prints. Part two will focus on handling, exhibition, and environment. Part 3 of the series will explain the invasive conservation treatment of these prints.

Paper: Gelatin silver developing out paper has been around since prior to the last century, and has not changed dramatically. The fiber-based paper has a three-layer structure, with the paper being the support, a baryta layer made up of gelatin and barium sulfate to gloss over the paper fibers, and the final layer, which is a silver-halide emulsion. This is the layer where all the magic happens. This paper comes in all sorts of tones ranging from warm to cool, purplish, sepia, and neutral, as well as variations in surfaces and textures. Regardless of these choices, the main thing to remember is that the paper serves as the support for the silver that the image is created on. Resin-coated papers are also an option, but I do not recommend them for use in any sort of archival or long-lasting print. The polyethylene coating on both sides breaks down over time and eventually causes redux spots and other visibly damaging affects. Whereas there have been improvements in RC paper over the years, stick with fiber-based papers for longer lasting prints of high archival quality.

Chemistry: Photography is all about silver. However, the very noble silver alone is inactive, as it must form a bond with a halogen to be light sensitive. Silver bonds with either chlorine, bromine, or iodine to become silver halide, which is what creates the image. Curiously, the size of the silver halides determines the color so the different sizes of silver halides matter, a lot. Smaller, finer grains create a warm tone image, whereas a cool toned image has larger grains of silver halides. In early photographic images (think salted paper prints such as albumen and collodions), all have a reddish-brown hue because the silver halides were tiny. Today, of course, myriad choices of chemical combinations exist. This is just one little factor in the big game of photography fun. I continuously experiment with different films and developers, finding the perfect combinations for particular situations. Regardless of the size of the halides or what silver bonds with, for preservation purposes, proper water and fixing is most crucial.

A print with high silver content in the emulsion

Water: It may seem a bit jejune, but I think water is not talked about enough in photography. As a film photographer, there are so many choices to make - the type of camera to shoot with, what subject matter to shoot, what film, paper, and chemicals to use - but it can all be ruined if using impure water. Tap water can have all sorts of minerals and old pipes can leak rust; the best chemicals and most skillful methods of processing will not impact the finished product if the water is not pure. Beginning with developing the film to printing the image, distilled water is the best stuff to use. To achieve distilled water, regular untreated water is heated to the point of vaporizing, and since the boiling point of water is so low compared to the minerals it needs to be separated from, the water escapes leaving behind the sediment.

Use this water...
... not just any water you can find

So, to avoid deposits of impurities on the negatives and prints over time, all of which will eventually erode and attack what you thought was a well processed, long-lasting negative or print, please consider using distilled water. It will help achieve archival quality negatives and prints, which will outlast you and provide the world something stimulating to look at for decades and perhaps centuries to come.

Fixing: I don’t think fixing twice is so much an opposing argument as much as it is simply disregarded. In the early days of DOP’s (developing out papers), sending prints through two fixing solutions was common practice. The fixer washes out all of the non-developed silver halides, but if not done properly, over time, you will be able to watch your prints break down and die before you do. To properly fix and make an archival print, use the first fixer to wash out most of the undeveloped silver halides, agitating continuously, and the second to wash out what remains from the first fix. The reason is that while the first fix washes the print, it also creates contaminants, so a second fixer is needed to get the print squeaky clean. After a printing session, I always notice my first fixer has a darker, dirtier hue, whereas the second fix looks crystal clean. If the print is not fixed twice, the contaminants eventually penetrate the paper fibers and form mega-strong bonds that can never be washed out, and once oxidized will eventually break down the fibers of the print. So, if you want your prints to last longer than you do – fix twice, question its longevity and long-term preservation later.

Fix twice, hypo, and then put into the print washer for an hour

Toning: The black and white gelatin silver print, processed properly and stored appropriately, should last a few hundred years. However, many factors affect image permanence and for the most part, one does not make a print to store it away in a cool, dark environment never to be handled or displayed again. So after processing appropriately using distilled water and fixing twice, for another added layer of permanence and increased image stability, toning is a very good last step. A common toner to use that does not alter the image to much discernible degree is selenium. After properly fixing, the print should run through a hypo bath to clear the fixer off, and then a full washing. After washing, tone with a selenium toner that will then convert the silver to silver selenide which is a more stable compound than silver alone, and will be more resistant to atmospheric pollutants and oxidation. If the desired effect is to have no tonal change, the selenium should be diluted mildly and will yield strictly archival results. Ansel Adams was a big proponent of selenium toning and his prints today are a testament to time as they are still in excellent condition and probably will be for hundreds of years to come.

Read on in this mini series on Photo Preservation-
Part 2: Handling, Exhibiting, and Storing
Part 3: Handling Disasters and Professional Help



Bio:
Kate Contakos is Head of the Preservation Department at Stanford University, and was a founding member of Shutterclank! (film photography magazine). She shoots black and white film on her Leica, Mamiya, and Nikon, and spends lots of time in her custom built darkroom in her loft in San Francisco. She is currently addicted to Ilford’s MG Art cotton rag paper.

Find her here-
Twitter: @contakos
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/contakos/
Shutterclank!: http://www.shutterclank.com/


Further Reading and Resources

Books:
Adams, Ansel. The Print. Little, Brown and Company: Boston, 1983.

Issues in the Conservation of Photographs. Ed. Debra Hess Norris and Jennifer Jae Gutierrez. The Getty Conservation Institute: Los Angeles, 2010.

Lavedrine, Bertrand. A Guide to the Preventive Conservation of Photograph Collections. The Getty Conservation Institute: Los Angeles, 2003.

Rempel, Siegfried. The Care of Photographs. Nick Lyons Books: New York, 1987.


Web:
American Institute for Conservation Photographic Materials Group:
http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/pmg/index.html

Gawain Weaver’s Care and Identification of Photographs Workshops:
http://gawainweaver.com/

Image Permanence Institute:
https://www.imagepermanenceinstitute.org/

George Eastman House:
http://www.eastmanhouse.org/

Monday, February 6, 2012

Filter Frames


A quick, easy, and creative way to reuse old lens filters is to turn them into mini photo frames! Simply trim your photo to fit inside one filter, and screw another one on top to protect your picture. You can use any size or type of filter, but the clearer the better.

You can use a small filter or a rear lens cap (shown) as a base. You can even glue a magnet to the back to stick on a refrigerator or other metal surface, or use industrial strength Velcro to attach to other surfaces.

This is a great way to reuse old filters that aren't being used anymore, or may even have scratches on the glass (best for using on the rear side of the frame). And the best part is, it doesn't even have to damage the filter which can be used again in the future for it's original purpose.

Don't have any old filters that you would want to use? Find some on keh.com (P.S.- Find variety stacks of uncleaned filters under "Odds and Ends" on the site).


- Kim Anchors

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Photographers Valentine

A few great cards that are perfect for or from a photographer this Valentines Day (or any day)...

I Leica You (a lot) Card, from Green House Paper
Fun fact: The Leica in the photo was actually purchased from KEH!


I Love You More Than My Camera Paper-cut Greeting Card, from Storeyshop


Canon L Series Love You More Than Greeting Card, from Everlee Designs
(seller also has a Nikon version card available)


Film Heart 4x5 Card, from xoazuree


We Just Click Card, from dudeandchick
(yes, we've featured this card before but had to include it in this post also)


Or, find a cute vintage valentine... (they can often be found at local antique stores or online on sites like eBay).

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New International Payment Option

New International PayPal option on KEH.com- We are now accepting payments by PayPal from anywhere in the world! (Previously only from the US, UK and Canada)