Preserving the Past: Restoring Damaged Photo Negatives
This video shows how the JPL Archives performs conservation efforts to preserve the content of the photos in our Still Negatives Collection. Digital Archivist, Victoria Castaneda, walks us through the detailed steps on how to capture the content of a damaged photo negative and repair the image to create a restored digital access copy.
This photo negative which shows employees playing volleyball at a picnic has been housed in our collection since 1952.
The negative is suffering from channeling caused by Vinegar Syndrome. Vinegar Syndrome, or a pungent vinegar smell, is apparent when film with an acetate support begins to deteriorate, which causes buckling, channeling, and an embrittlement of the negative.
In order to save a digital record of this photo, Victoria, our Digital Archivist, will take a photo of this negative and import it into Photoshop. To create the fixed access copy, Victoria uses various editing capabilities to digitally enhance the photo and bring it back to life.
Though the physical negatives will remain in temperature-controlled storage, we would like to preserve the image for both archival and access purposes. It can be a time-consuming process, but the outcome can be worth it.
Here is the damaged negative and here’s a digitally enhanced copy which can be preserved and enjoyed for years to come.
On-screen text: Created by the JPL Archives Department, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.
The research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (80NM0018D0004).
© 2021 California Institute of Technology. Government sponsorship acknowledged.