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Subject: Faded photograph prints

Faded photograph prints

From: Gary Saretzky <gsaretzk<-a>
Date: Tuesday, March 1, 2005
Mark D. Hanson <curator [at] aeromuseum__org> writes

>I have inherited a puzzling problem. We have a hallway along one
>wall of which a photo timeline runs. The hallway is lighted by
>fluorescent tube lights in enclosed fixtures. It is an interior
>hallway with no windows. The photos are color scans of primarily
>black and white originals printed in color on glossy photo paper
>from an ink jet printer. The prints are then dry mounted onto foam
>The photos appear to "randomly" fade at an alarming rate. We have
>tried using different papers and different printers, but to no
>avail, we have tried to isolate a correlation to lighting hotspots,
>but none exist. Photos fade just as quickly in darker areas of the
>hallway as in brighter ones. We have tried control groups of
>multiple picture using the same print settings, printer, ink
>cartridges, box of paper, and dry mounting materials and technique.
>Nothing seems to work. ...

Inkjet prints vary extensively in stability depending on the inkset
and the paper used.  If you can't change your printer to one that
uses pigmented inks, make sure that you use paper and ink made by
the same manufacturer as the printer.  You could also check your
fluorescent bulbs to see how they are rated for UV (see Abbey
Newsletter with ratings at


    **** Moderator's comments: The above URL has been wrapped for
    email. There should be no newline.

UV can also be reduced with UV-filtering glass or plexiglass. Also
consider if the overall light level could be reduced by unplugging
some of the bulbs. If these techniques don't work, consider either
making color photocopies of your inkjet prints and displaying them
as facsimiles or taking your digital files on a CD to a photo
processor and having chromogenic color prints made. (My local
supermarket charges $4 for 8x10s on Kodak paper.)

See also the Wilhelm Imaging Research
<URL:>  for much additional
information on digital print longevity, including predicted life of
various printer/ink/paper combinations.  Among other findings,
Wilhelm has data indicating that framed digital prints, even without
UV-filtering glazing, usually last much longer than unframed prints.

Gary Saretzky
Archivist, County of Monmouth
Coordinator, Internship Programs, Rutgers History Dept.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:42
                  Distributed: Friday, March 11, 2005
                       Message Id: cdl-18-42-001
Received on Tuesday, 1 March, 2005

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