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Historic photo stuck to glass

Discussion in 'Photography Issues' started by Whatknot, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. Whatknot

    Whatknot Grumbler

    I'm working with a curator from our local military museum. We have an old fibre based photo that is stuck to the glass along one edge. It looks like some liquid got in at some point. If there is a conservator on board, maybe you can help out. If we get no professional advice, we will do nothing. It might help to mention that the museum has a 'rehydrator' that will add moisture to a dry cracking print but we're not sure that method will work in this.
  2. samcrimm

    samcrimm CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Looks to me what you have show, could be fixed via PS and a new print, I have also thought just reframe the stuck print as is if you don't get any conservator help.

  3. Whatknot

    Whatknot Grumbler

    I wish it was an easy scan. The print is 8" x 36". Wouldn't sit flat onto a scanner bed.
  4. Whatknot

    Whatknot Grumbler

    Has anyone tried freezing to release a print? If so, was it a successful venture?
  5. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    There's a fold/crack at the bottom center. Look at that carefully and if the emulsion is broken (there or anywhere else) you run the risk of moisture getting between the emulsion and the paper base. More damage will happen if the emulsion starts to separate .

    I've only been successful at separating photo from glass by soaking and carefully lifting very very slowly. ( even like days)

    The print will stand soaking but you may get some swelling around the edges.

    Old fiber base is better than RC coated newer prints.

    Chances of sucess are about 1 in 10.

    Scan the photo before starting.

    The print may be all you have but it's not the original. The negative is the original.
    Mer and Whatknot like this.
  6. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Not hard to Scan and stitch. Rig up a way to support the length.

    I've never tried but I don't believe it would help. Think of the water bond as glue.
    FM Framer and Whatknot like this.
  7. CandyB

    CandyB True Grumbler

    Custom Digital would be able to help you with this problem. They will give you advice on scanning in pieces. When you get your print, it is restored and beautiful. It will even be on the same type of paper.
    Whatknot and Dave like this.
  8. samcrimm

    samcrimm CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I am also a photograher and I would set it up with lights and make sure of course no glares and use my canon 5d Mark 3 to make it happen.

    Whatknot and Dave like this.
  9. Framar

    Framar SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    What is the end goal? To be framed? If so, and funds for a conservator are unavailable, I would clean the glass as well as possible without further damaging the photograph, cut a mat to cover as much of the damage around the edges, and put the entire shebang into a frame with new glass on top of the mat.

    Scanning, stitching and reprinting is only an option if you have the right kind of scanner. Some need items to be perfectly flat against the glass of the bed, others allow for scans of dimensional items. I have two old cheap scanners - one of each type. One won't scan a wrinkled piece of paper without blur - one will scan a teddy bear.
    Whatknot and neilframer like this.
  10. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    If you choose to ask a conservator, Phoenix Art Restoration is good. You can either do it wholesale and bill your customer or have them deal directly. Ask for Petra. They might also be able to tell you who's closer.


    But, as Mar suggested, re-framing it with new glass over an added mat is a less costly way to go. Another reason to have it scanned (and stitched) or photographed (as our local print guy does with a special set-up), is so they can also use the image elsewhere.

    GUMBY GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I have removed dozens of stuck photos over the years...some with success some with little success.
    It is a time patience experience process with an understanding of fiber base photo papers.
    Make sure who ever you get they specialize in photo's.
  12. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    I would scan in pieces, and as the damage is primarily on the edges, I would simply send the scans off to Digital Custom. They would restore and stitch it back together. Then you or they can print the file. Easy. Here is one we did slightly differently. Text from our restoration page:

    The above photograph was stuck to the glass because the frame did not have an air space between the glass and the photo. There was no way to remove the photograph from the glass without damaging it even further. We scanned the photograph with the broken glass in place (left), then re-scanned the photograph without the glass for a sharper view of the intact parts of the photo (middle), so that it could be completely restored using the two scanned images as a guide (right). We then printed and framed the new photo using a mat to create the proper air space, and ultraviolet protective glass to help prevent fading.

    Attached Files:

    Mike Labbe and Framar like this.
  13. JRB

    JRB PFG, Picture Framing God

    I had a lot of luck setting the photos in a darkroom tray filled with distilled water, glass on the bottom, photo on the top. I would let them soak until the photo floated free on its own. It was important to never touch the photo until it was free floating, forcing it would ruin it. I did this many times over the years until I tried it on an old b/w photo, the paper disintegrated before the photo floated free. We had made copies of it before we started so it was not a complete loss, but that is when I started referring the owners of such things to a conservator.

    Framar likes this.
  14. Neal Warren

    Neal Warren Grumbler in Training

    I worked for years as a darkroom technician, back in the film days (before digital photography) and did LOTS of printing on fiber base papers. After reading all of the replies here, I say the JRB is giving the best advice. Before you try any separation from the glass, be sure you have a good high resolution copy or scan in case something goes wrong. Then be sure everything is as clean as possible - glass, back of print, etc. Then soak in distilled water as JRB has described above. Distilled water has no chemicals or minerals in it, so it won't affect the archival properties of the print or cause any spotting when the print dries. Being fiber base, the print should release nicely from the glass after soaking. Resin coated prints can be much more difficult. I notice that some of the advice given here is by people who aren't fully aware of the differences between resin coated (RC) and fiber base photo paper. For example someone said to look for cracks in the emulsion, and that you will see swelling along the edge of the print after it soaks a while. This only happens with resin coated paper, not fiber base. Now, once the print releases from the glass, you will likely want to rinse it in a clean bath of distilled water. Then drying can be tricky, as fiber paper tends to want to warp and wave when it dries. Traditional darkroom methods would be to either use a heated-drum print dryer, which I'm sure you don't have (this gives the flatest results) or to sandwich it between layers of drying/blotter blankets to keep it relatively flat until it's dry. Once dry by this method, it will still likely have some wave to it, but you can flatten it nicely with a quick trip to the heat mounting press. Hope this helps!
    Whatknot and Framar like this.
  15. echavez123

    echavez123 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I would try to solve this in this order:

    1) Scan and stitch - this usually works best.
    2) Photograph through glass - tricky.
    3) Dip in water bath and hope the print dislodges.

    I would try certainly scan and stitch it together. Most likely this will work. I have also tried to photograph images through glass. The trick here is to setup a black cloth with a hole in it for your camera lens. This is tricky, but will minimize reflections. As a last resort, I would try dipping the print in a bath of water, although I have never done this successfully.

    In any case, I would explain to the customer about these issues, and ask them if they are willing to work with my plan. It is possible, you may ruin the print completely if you dip it in water.
  16. Whatknot

    Whatknot Grumbler

    Thanks for the reply. I erred on the side of caution. I lightly cleaned the glass, made up a narrow mat and placed it on the outside of the glass. Looks good and no further damage done. If it was my photograph, it would sit in warm water until separated. But it's the local museum's so I left well enough alone.
    GUMBY GCF and Framar like this.
  17. Daniel Smith

    Daniel Smith Grumbler

    When you really get stuck with problems involving older and historic images the folks at George Eastman House are often a good source of help. Conservators and photographic specialists are on staff and can be worth the time, effort and(at times) cost when you have problems.
    Whatknot likes this.
  18. Whatknot

    Whatknot Grumbler

    Great to know! Thank you Daniel.
  19. Whatknot

    Whatknot Grumbler

    Photo was already framed in a frame that had a very shallow rabbet. In the end, I cleaned the glass on the outside, made up a mat that I placed against the frame (outside the glass), then stacked glass/photo/thin backer. As with any small town museum, they are stretched tight for money. I had 11 pieces (10 panos), all in different states of disrepair. Some were stapled on to plywood!!!! Finished now, glad to be done with it and museum is happy their photos are protected. These types of pieces all come in as donations and some are not treated as kindly as others throughout the decades. Thanks, everyone, for your help.
    Framar likes this.

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