How To: Bleaching FP-100C Negatives

A few weeks ago we ran a blog post on scanning Fp-3000B negatives. That post had a lot of people asking us what you do for the FP-100C negatives. We got together with Michael Smith from Ash Imagery and came up with this quick How To. Below you will find a short video I made and all the steps and materials needed for this project (provided by Mike). There are a few things that differ from the steps below and the How To video I made, but the end result is the same. We’d like to thank Mike again for taking the time to do this.

Bleaching 100c Negatives:

What you will need: A piece of glass or plexi, paper towels, a bowl of water or near by sink, bleach (gel version), scissors, painters tape or electrical tape

1. Get a piece of glass. I use a piece of glass from an old 8×10 frame. If I want I can fit 6 negatives on the glass but I usually put 4 on as I feel that those stay in position better.
2. Tape down the glass.
3. I cut down the negatives so there is a small border around the image – like 1/4 or so. Some people keep the whole thing intack but I like to cut it out.
4. Tape down the negatives with the black coated side facing up since thats the side you need to remove. I use the Scotch blue painters tape. It goes on nicely and comes off easily as well.
5. Get some paper towels, fill a bowl with room temperature water, and get your bleach.
6. Once your negatives are taped down securely (be sure the tape is NOT covering part of the image) apply a small amount – about a dollar coin size – of the gel bleach on each one. I use the Clorox toilet bowl cleaner bleach. The gel form is MUCH better, in my opinion, than standard liquid bleach. Once you have some bleach on the negatives, take a paper towel and gently spread it out over the negative so all parts of the black are covered. You will immediately see the black coating come up. After the bleach has been spread, wait a couple minutes for the bleach to work.
7. After a few minutes, get a clean, damp, paper towel and remove the layer of bleach. Its ok if there is still some on it as you are going to apply another layer of bleach. At this point you will see that most of the black coating has been removed and the image will appear. You will also see some remnants of the black coating unless you did a stellar job on the first bleaching. At this point, grab the bleach and apply another layer to remove the rest of the coating. Follow the same process.
8. With a damp paper towel/s, remove as much as the bleach as you can.
9. Remove each negative from the tape. It should come up pretty darn easy.
10. Place a negative in the bowl of water and gently wipe away the excess bleach. Also, on the front side of the negative there will be a layer of “goo.” gently remove that as well. It will easily come off in the water. I just my hands to do this but you can use a paper towel that is submerged in the water if you are gentle enough. You don’t want to scratch any of the negative.
11. One by one clean them off and lay them to dry flat.
12. Try not to let them fully dry as you can possibly get water stains. Once they are pretty close to being dry i get a microfiber cloth and dry them the rest of the way.

Thats it! It looks like a lot of steps but its super easy and not crazy time consuming. I can do about 4-8 negatives in about 15-30 minutes or so taking my time.

Scanning:

1. Make sure the negative is dry and free of dust. I use a microfiber cloth and sometimes canned air to do this. I’m not hardcore on this step. As long as most of the dust is removed I’m ok. I can touch up a bit in Photoshop after the scan is made.
2. I use an Epson V700 and the Espon Vuescan software. I have tried other scanning software but the Epson one gives me the best results.
3. I scan at high resolution. Usually the scans are roughly 5k pixels wide at 300 dpi.
4. After scanning, I bring each one into Photoshop for some quick touch ups. Usually its just removing dust, playing with the levels, and some basic color adjustments. Most of the work is done in the scan though. I try to keep the colors similar to the positive image but you can really mess around with them if you want.

Save files, resize one for web, and post away!

 

Here are a few comparisons of the original print and the bleached negative. All images are from Michael Smith, copyright Ash Imagery.

 

Here are a few scans from bleached negatives. All images are from the members of the Snap It See it team.

 

Like Mike said, there is so much you can do in Photoshop once you have the negative scanned. The negatives really have a look of their own. Once you have this technique down, you can give away the prints with confidence, know that you’ll have a little gem for yourself when you get home.

 

 

Comments

  1. Does this have to be done within days of taking the picture? or can it be done to old negative sides?

  2. No. The ones used in the video are at least 6 months old. They just need to be dry.

  3. sweet! thank you! now i wish I’d saved more!

  4. Thanks for posting this tutorial 🙂 I’ve been wanting to try this but wasn’t sure exactly how.

  5. hey,
    just have found your video and want to show my way of bleaching the negatives 😀

    @LDGphotoGraphicArtsNicole: you can bleach older negatives, but you should wash off the old chemistry before storing them. the chemistry builds little crystals after a few weeks, while washing them off the emulsion site often gets damaged.

    Luk.

  6. Is this bleaching process the same for FP 3000b?

    Thanks in advance

    • It is not. If you do a search in the how to section of the blog, we cover recovery and scanning of the 3000b negatives. It is a much easier process.

      • I only found the how to info about scanning 3000b negs not conserving or recovering. Perhaps there’s no need to bleach the backing? Will the negs oxidize over time if left as is?

        This blog is fantastic ! So happy to find this wealth of info.

        • That’s the one. With the B&W, all you need to do is lightly wash them and scan them. You will then pull into Ps and invert the image. BAM, done! B&W is a breeze.

          The negs can turn yellow over time, but I have found that they still scan just fine.

          • Yay ! So happy to hear this. I’m actually allergic to bleach but was willing to brave the storm (in full hazmat suit) for the sake of preservation.

            Thanks again !

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