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Preserving Before It's Too Late

Today we have a cautionary tale for you.

As you can see we’ve provided a comparison of sorts.

These two pieces are photographic negatives from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which we digitized.

We’re showing this to illustrate the limitations of what we can do through our digitization processes.

In other words, take a look at what we can’t do!

Not terribly effective as a sales tactic, we’ll admit, but at least it’s honest.

Digitization is not magic.

What you see here are two things that got digitized too late.

They had deteriorated to the point that capturing their original appearance would be impossible.

Sure, we could take a stab at Photoshopping them for restoration purposes, but that’s always far from ideal no matter how it turns out; and historical accuracy is inevitably lost in the process.

The only way to preserve something digitally with complete integrity is to preserve it before it’s too late.

Different materials deteriorate in different ways and at different rates.

Even two pieces of the same material will deteriorate differently depending on the conditions in which they were stored and the way in which they were handled.

Using photographic negatives as an example, let’s talk about one of the several materials they have been made from over the years—nitrate.

Nitrate negatives are notoriously volatile and even dangerous to work with, which is why it can be so difficult to find companies who are willing to do so.

Warren Associates' digitization service brand, Innovative Bytes, has worked and does work with nitrate negs, but you can bet we take the utmost care and precaution.

The problem is that nitrate is highly combustible and flammable. To make matters more hazardous, should a nitrate negative combust or ignite, it is extremely difficult to extinguish.

The first two signs that indicate a nitrate negative’s deterioration are a fading of the image with a brownish discoloration followed by the negative becoming sticky to the touch. The negative may also begin to emit an odor.

If you have a nitrate negative or a collection of them and begin to notice these signs, we recommend you digitize as soon as possible before it’s too late.

And also, especially in the case of nitrate, handle with care!

If you would like more information, click here for a really handy article we found. You may want to pay particular attention to sections 2.2 and 2.6.

And, if you’ll permit us a shameless plug, you can always pick up the phone for a free quote on your digitization needs from our Innovative Bytes service.

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