The issues surrounding the
archival keeping qualities of photographic materials have always dogged
us. During the development of the photographic process in the 19th century
the problem was not capturing a moment but keeping it from fading once
it was again exposed to light when viewed. Only when "hypo"
was discovered could the undeveloped silver halides be removed from the
light sensitive emulsion, making the image somewhat impervious to further
deterioration. That discovery made photography possible. But other matters
contributed to the keeping problems with photographs--the tarnishing
of silver, the fading of dyes used in creating color, the poor base support
materials, and the increasing effects of pollution, which attack both
paper and image layers in the print. Indeed, even high temperature and
humidity became a storage issue, as did the album pages and containers
in which photographs were held, which could emit harmful gases.
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