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Flattening large numbers of water damaged photos

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    • #137912
      Meg Newburger

      Hi all,
      I am wondering if a photo conservator can weigh in on a question I have regarding photos distorted from a water emergency.

      We have an old dry mount press that tests suggest would be excellent for flattening photos curled due to water exposure (these are not being mounted just flattened). The photos would be lightly humidified from the back first with lightly dampened blotters. Not being a photo conservator I don’t know if this can cause invisible damage to the photos. Could someone weigh in on whether there is a good reason not to do this.
      The photos may otherwise be discarded.

    • #137923
      Rebecca Smyrl

      Hi Meg,

      I am not a photo conservator, but I suggest looking at the Photographic Materials Group Wiki entry on Humidification, Drying, and Flattening. The Drying and Pressing Treatment Variations offer specific information about using a dry mount press (both with and without heat) to flatten photos, including (under the Pros and Cons of Variation #2) some cautions about the technique. I’m not sure what type of photographic process you are working with, but the Wiki discusses a few different ones.

      Though it does seem that there are some potential negative side effects, if the alternative is for the photographs to be discarded there may be little to lose. One thought would be to flatten them enough that digital copies could be made, if that’s an option for you.

      I hope this helps!

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