Processing for Archival Stability : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Given the discussion among various threads regarding processing techniques and HABS/HAER requirements, I have come across a subject that may prompt some interesting responses in this forum. I recently received a publication from the National Park Service entitled HABS/HAER Photography: Specifications and Guidelines. The guidelines require that all film must be processed by hand using the dip and dunk technique with tanks and hangers -- no tray development or use of automatic processing equipment. This publication specifically states that "Films and prints developed by automatic processing machines have repeatedly failed stability tests are are not considered archival." I have alway thought that archival stability could be obtained using a variety of development methods, as long as one paid close attention to proper fixing, clearing and washing techniques. Comments, anyone?

-- Matt Long (, April 09, 1999


I've read the stips too and they are just flat wrong. They are written by non-photographers and miss an important fact. The methods of processing do not matter one iota to archival stability. At the end of the fixing stage in processing of a negative, there is absolutely no difference between one processed via dip and dunk and one processed in any of a variety of other methods...BTZS tubes, Jobo or similar processor, nitrogen-burst, or tray. It matters what you do from that point on. I think that they are testing negatives coming out of a processing run but before washing, because Jobo allows you to clear and wash in the drums. I process with Jobo as follows: developer, numerous water rinses, fresh fix, numerous water rinses, clear, numerous water rinses, AND THEN I REMOVE THE FILM FROM THE DRUM. I then wash in an archival film washer for five minutes and the film can pass any test they throw at it. The method of processing is not what decides archival stability. It is the method of stabalizing and washing that counts. You can't leave this up to the machine. I've done hundreds of HABS/HAER documents and have never had their archival stability called into question. Most have been done with Jobo, some with BTZS, and others with tray. I despise dip and dunk because I have never mastered it so I get even skies. Get yourself a test kit from Kodak. It is what HABS/HAER uses. If your negatives pass, they'll be accepted and you did it right no matter what the process you use.

-- Rob Tucher (, April 09, 1999.

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