Blogging... sorta

January is the time to stop and look around, to find those persistent dust bunnies (and their relatives) and to appreciate nature at rest. Rest... definitely a relative term where nature is concerned, for as the landscape lies brown and damp under winter's relentless assult, energies are stored, buds develop, and critters evolve, as all make silent preparations for the new spring, and when the earth finally allows for new green shoots, I find joy in each and every one. It is only weeks now before it begins again. If only we could conserve and recharge each winter and then renew ourselves again each spring, what a happy time it would be.

February   A restoration and tagline addition came in the other day, a 1940s school team photo that we restored and then added the members' names to the bottom front of the image. It reminds me to talk a bit about photo handling and storage. Most of the damage to this photo was caused by old fingerprints. In this time of digital imagery and computers, no one bothers to talk much about photo handling anymore, but I will say it now: please handle your photos on their edges. Or, if handling lots of photographs, wear white cotton gloves.

thumbprintEven clean hands have oils and salts on them that transfer fingerprints to your photos. Over time, the ridges grow darker, more prominent, and eventually become part of my restoration process -- they're especially difficult when they cover important features like faces. Once a fingerprint is made, it is there forever, so please, don't add yours to the mix. You cannot clean them off or wipe them away without causing further damage, but you can avoid them in the future.

Old shoe boxes have long been the storage container of choice for loose snapshots, but today, we have acid free boxes that work much better. They are inexpensive, and worth it. While you are at it, check your older photos for fading, and if it is severe, take them to your local drugstore for a quick copy (they can do it much cheaper than I can) so you at least have a copy of the image in its present state  Then store them all in your new acid free shoe box.

Hopefully, you no longer use the once popular sticky-page photo albums. They were inexpensive, helped to corral hundreds of photos, and seemed like a good idea at the time, but countless photos have been ruined by these albums as the sticky, wax-like substance seeped into the photo paper. Now, acid free albums are plentiful and you should use them. All photos, whether in albums or boxes, should be kept in a dry environment. Avoid extreme temperatures and direct sunlight. And occasionally air them out.

It is almost impossible to find the old black-leafed albums -- the kind using photo corners -- but lots of images stored in those have come through the ages in almost pristine condition. Glassein photo paper interlaced between album pages will add another layer of protection, but it is rather unwieldy and sometimes hard to find.

Photos in frames should have a matboard or spacers to hold them away from the glass. Even subtle room temperature or humidity changes can create moisture inside the glass and damage the print. I once did a restoration of a photo that was pemanently stuck to its glass -- had to scan it glass and all. I use regular glass and acid-free mats. Non-glare glass works sometimes, but I find it blurs the image slightly, and adds a discernable tint. If your photo is important enough for a frame, it deserves a mat for its protection. That's what they're for. Artists use other acid free things, like the backing boards and even the tape, but I realize that most consumers cannot justify these expenditures, so use acid free/lignon free where you can -- and please avoid touching the fronts of your photos.