Display Glass Negatives?

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    • #133396
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Our Special Collections folks would like to display one or two glass negatives at one of CU-Boulder’s branch libraries. The branches are open from 8 am until 10 pm or so. We can take measures to minimize the danger of the negatives breaking, but are concerned about the long exposure to indirect light. The display could be up for as long as 3 months. I would appreciate any advice or suggestions about the advisability of that amount of exposure to light. We can ask them to cover the display case during the period when there are few patrons, but this would not be in our direct control.
      Does anyone have experience with this problem?
      Thanks
      Christine De Vries
      Mgr/Preservation Dept.
      University of Colorado-Boulder

    • #133413
      Jane Dalley
      Participant

      Hi Christine,

      When you say “indirect light”, have you measured to determine the levels of visible light and UV? Also, what type of lighting is there? Sunlight, light from overhead room lights or interior case lights? Is there heat build-up within the cases?

      There is not just light to be concerned about. Glass plate negatives require a stable environment, free of pollutants including those that might off-gas from surrounding display materials.

      If these glass plate negatives are unique and irreplaceable, you could exhibit the prints pulled from them instead. It is visually more appealing to see a print than a negative.

      The Canadian Conservation Institute has good basic information in Note 16/2 “Care of Black-and-White Photographic Glass Plate Negatives” found at http://www.cci-icc.gc.ca/publications/notes/16-2-eng.aspx.

      Hope this helps. Good luck!

    • #133412
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      The light is from the overhead room lights – I’ll check the levels of UV/visible light and the temperature. Thank you for the link – it’s helpful.
      Christine

    • #133411

      Jane,

      Thanks for that link. We have around 10,000 negatives that we are looking to print, preserve, etc. Do you have any particular background with glass plates?

      Thanks!

      Mike A. Ryan Simonovich
      Archivist/Data Manager
      Roosevelt Wild Life Station
      SUNY-ESF
      Syracuse, NY

    • #133410
      Kim R. Du Boise
      Participant

      Christine,
      I second Jane’s questions & the suggestion of a print rather than a negative. Most people won’t “get” a negative as well as the positive image, unless they are used to looking at them. Now days, most people aren’t. To properly show the image, the emulsion side would have to be facing down to be correctly oriented.
      A question I have is how will these be viewed if they are not backlit, such as a light box? That could be more damaging than the ambient light and could change the temperature in the display. Perhaps, if you have a scan of the negatives, you could print it onto transparency film and use a “mock” version of it with a photo of the real plate as a part of the display?

      Mike,
      We have experience with glass plate negatives, nitrate, and the various types of acetate negatives, as well as polyester supports. If you have questions regarding your collections, printing, housing for storage, or digitization, we can help with some answers. We have printed & digitized glass plates & negatives for several collections.

      Contact us via email: info@photoartsimaging.com, if you wish.

      All the best,
      Kim Du Boise, Conservator
      PhotoArts Imaging Professionals

    • #133409

      Good points as far as care of the glass plates is concerned, but it seems the purpose of displaying glass negatives is to show how photos were at one time reproduced. Perhaps print a photo from the glass negative and display both together, thereby helping the viewer “get” the equation. The glass plate would not necessary have to be backlit to understand the idea that this is the negative.

    • #133408
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Thanks to all for the helpful information. We have decided not to display glass negatives. The suggestion about a mock display is a good idea and we may look into that option.
      Thanks again.

    • #133407
      Randi Smith
      Member

      Mike A. Ryan Simonovich
      The Roosevelt Wild Life Station caught my eye- we have a few of your publications. We are also trying to get things usable, scanned, online, or even just cataloged. Our collection is fisheries focused, lots of archival material, some glass plate negs from the Fairport Biological Station- mussel propagation. I can be reached at randi_smith@fws.gov. Do you have any of the Albatross marine specimens?

    • #133406
      Jane Dalley
      Participant

      Christine,

      Good luck with however you decide to display/mock display/not display your glass plate negatives. These decisions are rarely black and white (no photographic pun intended). We make the best decision based on the information available and the needs of our collection/organization.

      Mike,

      In belated response to your question, I specialize in the preservation of archival materials including photographic media. I travel a bit with my work, including the US, and would be happy to help in any way. I also suggest contacting the American Institute of Conservation for a listing of resources in your area. Feel free to contact me directly at dfhcs@mts.net.

      Cheers,
      Jane

    • #133405
      Laura Furman
      Member

      Can anyone involved in this topic tell me what sort of equipment I would need to scan glass plate negatives? I know it’s possible but with experimentation have not been able to make our scanner scan the image sucessfully (even though it has the setting for scanning slides and strips of negatives).

      Thanks, Laura Furman, Midway Village Museum

    • #133404
      Lisa Worley
      Member

      Laura- My DIY process for scanning glass plate negatives: place the negative on the scanner bed. Put a white sheet of paper over it. Hold a lamp over the white paper, and scan as you would normally. Then in photoshop, reverse the image and you’ve got the positive.

    • #133403
      Ben Shaw
      Member

      Hey Laura.
      It depends on your scanner. We use an HP Scanjet G4050. It has a lamp on the lid that is usually covered by a plastic cover. If your scanner has a negatives setting, try putting the negative in the middle of the glass bed. Sometimes our machine acts up and only registeres the middle.

      cheers.
      ben

    • #133402

      Laura:
      One thing to remember when scanning glass negatives is that you should not lay the negative directly on the glass of the scanner. The image does not need to be very high off the glass, you can make a holder by cutting a hole just slightly smaller than the negative from thin cardboard. Place the cardboard on the glass, then lay the negative over the cutout. Also, check your setting and make sure you have them set to scan negatives. The negative settings on my Epson V700 reads Film (with film holder) or Film (with area guide).
      Jaclo

    • #133401

      I think you are on the right track with glass plate negatives (GPN). We received an oversize printer several years ago. We ordered it with the little black plastic blocks which lift the GPN off the surface of the scanner and allow us to scan 8 at a time. We also use the white background option. We did have to play with the settings until we got the right combinations, but then it goes fairly quickly. Make sure you make a note of the settings so that you use them for next time.
      We do not display the GPNs but I can see the value in displaying one or two of the GPN’s as samples. If you wish to display one, I would choose one that is not valuable to the collection (blank, overdeveloped, etc.)
      Good luck. The prints we have made using the scanned GPNs have turned out well.
      Harriet Beckert
      Newtown Historic Association

    • #133400

      I think you are on the right track with glass plate negatives (GPN). We received an oversize printer several years ago. We ordered it with the little black plastic blocks which lift the GPN off the surface of the scanner and allow us to scan 8 at a time. We also use the white background option. We did have to play with the settings until we got the right combinations, but then it goes fairly quickly. Make sure you make a note of the settings so that you use them for next time.
      We do not display the GPNs but I can see the value in displaying one or two of the GPN’s as samples. If you wish to display one, I would choose one that is not valuable to the collection (blank, overdeveloped, etc.)
      Good luck. The prints we have made using the scanned GPNs have turned out well.
      Harriet Beckert
      Newtown Historic Association

    • #133399

      I haven’t scanned any of our plates yet, but a lot of the sources on the web recommend, ‘When scanning plates it is a good idea to lay a sheet of acetate over the bed of the scanner to remove the risk of scratching.’ http://www.shutterbug.com/content/darkroombrprinting-glass-plates-it%E2%80%99s-definitely-worth-effort-page-2

      Just a thought.

    • #133398
      Gary Spivey
      Member

      The Douglas Historical Society, AZ, has a large collection of GPNs. A volunteer photographer digitized a large sample of them by placing the negatives on a small light table, using a camera stand to mount a digital camera and photographing the negative. The photos are then reversed in Photoshop. This produces a superb image. Our photographer-consultant said this was the preferred way to digitize GPNs. He used an on-line resource to produce a bound book of the most interesting photos we can display.

    • #133397
      Martha Grenzeback
      Participant

      I’m so delighted that this discussion has come up, because we are just about to start rehousing a largish collection of old (1890s-early 1900s) glass plate negatives that have been sitting in storage, stacked in their original boxes, for about 80 years….Eventually we hope to scan them, so all these tips are very useful. One additional question I have: should they be cleaned at all (ours are a little dusty, and their boxes have crumbled a bit, leaving debris)? If so, how? Thanks.

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