Photography Tips : Cleaning Photo Negatives


This is Anthony and we’re going to talk about
cleaning photo negatives. First thing you want to do when your cleaning a negative is
wear a glove. It’s kind of annoying. Looks kind of silly but you know what? It really
helps. You don’t want to start cleaning something while your putting more dirt on what your
cleaning. Makes sense. This is a negative I have. Two and a quarter black and white
negative. Has a fine layer of filth on the negative. I want to clean this negative. Right
here is what’s called a anti static cloth. In my opinion it’s the best tool to use to
clean negatives. I personally don’t like using caned air. It’s bad for the environment and
a lot of times. I find out that can air almost spits out condensation and that can actually
ruin my negative. So that’s not good in my opinion. So I’m going to use this cloth very
simply I’m going to fold the cloth over and clean the negative. Negatives usually have
water marks, dust murks to some degree. Scratches on them. You want to avoid the scratches.
Everything else you can pretty much get off. If this doesn’t work with the cloth I go to
anti static film cleaner. The number one ingredient in all film cleaner. Is isopropyl alcohol.
In my studio I just have a bit vat of isopropyl alcohol that I use. I’ve had it for years
a little alcohol, isopropyl alcohol. On a cotton ball will clean almost any negative
but I do like the film cleaner sometimes. There’s a little bit extra ingredient in it.
That just seems to work as a solvent a little bit better on my negatives. There are two
sides to a negative. You have the emulsion side non emulsion side. You want be extremely
careful with the emulsion side of your negative. That is the negative where layer of emulsion
is on. That actually gets exposed to light and makes your image. If you scratch that.
Your basically going to have a negative that is going to have a scratch on it for life
and your only going to be able to get that scratch off. Via photo shop or a retouching
job and that’s starts to get very time consuming and very expensive. So always treat your negatives
with the utmost care and again this is really the first step that I like to use. It’s just
this cloth. They sell them at any photography store. It’s an anti static cloth they cost
about ten bucks max. So it’s pretty affordable if you keep them in the little bag. They’ll
last for years.

12 Replies to “Photography Tips : Cleaning Photo Negatives”

  1. Retouching is time consuming, TEDIOUS AND BORING! LOL

    Cleaning solution on slides, do you recommend it? I have little brown spots on a batch of negatives. Doing 'dust & scratches' works well in the sky, etc, but where the details are not so well… been one by one healing brush/cloning them out… This is so boring I'm ready to scream! I'm wondering what these spots could be and if they could be cleaned off before scanning.

  2. Thanks, I have a very old negative of my late mother and sister I want to wet print and split tone it for my sister's special birthday. At one point we thought we’d lose my sister before my mother so this is really important to get right.

  3. Why use cotton gloves when you can use rubber gloves. Cotton gloves shed cotton fibers that end up in the scanner when you scan the negative films.

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