HELP! Photos stored in extreme heat for three weeks?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by francis_dantuono, Jun 18, 2014.

  1. I have about ten or twelve 300 page photo albums, very heavy, dating from 1989-1999, all color photos.
    The albums themselves are thick, photo safe, acid and lingin free. The rest of my photos are in six-seven acid free boxes. I moved back home and some of the albums were placed in the backseat of my mother's car; some were in the trunk. I didn't get any help for three weeks in retrieving them so they sat there. We've been experiencing a heat wave for the last few days so in desperation I did it myself. Today and yesterday temperatures outside reached above 90 degrees farenheit.
    What I noticed:
    The photo albums themselves on the back seat were very hot to the touch, but the photos within did not look at all damaged or faded or any different from before. As soon as they were in a normal temperature, they cooled. They have a bit of a smell to them, not overly strong but present. But I think it is the albums themselves which smell, not the phtos. But the photos themselves--I tested by taking one out--they felt only a tiny bit 'floppier' than before, not really noticable, and were not damaged it seems or wet or sticky or anything.
    The ones in the trunk the albums were not hot at all and they seem totally normal.
    What should I do in terms of care for them now? Is it possible they have suffered some underlying, fatal permanent damage?
  2. If they have been damaged there's nothing you can do about it. You'll just have to wait and see. The damage, if there is anything, will not be "fatal". All that will happen is that they will fade, or change color, quicker than usual, but since you won't know what is usual you may not notice. However, if a radical change is noticed withinin a year then they probably have been influenced by the high temperature. You could scan them before any fading occurs if you think it is vital, but otherwise I don't see that you can do anything to ameliorate what has happened except to keep them in a cool dry area from now on.
  3. As of now I have not noticed any change, only a bit of an odd smell.
  4. Robin +1.
    Hopefully, they are OK. If they are color prints, there might be some effect on permanence, but C-41 negatives and color prints made from them are fairly unstable even without heat.
  5. Permanence?
    How long should I begin to see any ill effects, if there are any?
    Is it possible that the thick covers of the photo albums themselves, along with the plastic covering protecting the pictures, absorbed most of the heat? Like I said, the albums themselves were hot, but not burning hot--It didn't hurt my hand to touch them. And the ones in the trunk were totally cool, is it possible that the trunk, lacking windows, was protected from the heat? And the photos weren't hot in either case, only the albums themselves in the case of the albums left in the back seat.
    Do I have to worry about mold development on them?
  6. Over the years, I had a lot of photos stored in extreme heat. If you see plastic melting, it won't go back once it cools off. If the photos begin to melt onto something or get something melted onto them: you're stuck with whatever happens.

    Damage from heat will sometimes manifest itself as immediate and obvious emulsion damage. For example, if you begin to see the film separate from the paper, adhere to plastic encasing the picture, or curl and lacerate with the temperature changes: that's permanent damage. From reading your narrative, I wouldn't expect that kind of problem.
  7. FAIW, we used to dry non-resin-coated prints with flatirons. We also used to dry-mount our prints with a heat press. Although I never did this with a color print, I'm sure other people did. I've never seen problems from doing this.
    I suspect your prints stiffened back up when they cooled. Yes?
    I frankly wouldn't expect any problems. I could be wrong, of course. I think the advice of scanning them if they're really important is a good idea, just on general principles.
  8. I think upon checking some today they are still a little 'floppier' than normal. But I'm not sure. Just a gut feeling.
  9. I'm guessing they will be okay, but that's only my hunch. If you find yourself being distracted with the possibility that your prints might be damaged over time, don't wait, scan them's worth the peace of mind.
  10. I checked them today. Some are curling bakward like ( slightly, and they feel heavier, I can't explain it. Less bendable, let's say. Like photos tend to be a tad floppy and "bendable", not that you would want to bend them. They feel stiffer and heavier than before. No fading evident or any color change, but those changes.

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