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Investigations on the Chemical Degradation of Silver Gelatine Prints

Keywords: Chemical degradation , processed silver gelatine prints , accelerated ageing , FTIR , Amino acid analysis , TEM

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Photographs are considered composite objects with complex chemical and physical structures. Therefore they are more prone to damage as compared to other objects. Chemical degradation is by far the most common decay form found among photographic collections. This study investigates the chemical degradation of silver gelatin prints (DOP) and the reaction of the image, silver, gelatin, and paper to accelerated aging, to the action of light, and oxidizing gases, in terms of their physical and chemical nature. The test materials used are properly washed and poorly washed grayscale, black-and-white processed images on photographic paper (Black & White Photographic Paper BH 0 Bromofort 6P0661 Tropical from Forte Photochemical Company Vác, Hungary). After exposure, the results were studied by means of visual inspection, amino acid analyzer, Fourier transform infrared and transmission electron microscope. The results were compared with those of the control samples. Our study revealed that the image, silver, gelatin and photographic paper are greatly affected by oxidizing agents and that the effect increased if the photographic prints were inadequately washed at the time of their processing. Furthermore, our results indicated that an increased amount of ammonia and amino acid in the silver gelatin print is a reliable indicator of the degradation of its gelatine emulsion.


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