This wedding photo from the 1970s is marred by relatively moderate scratches. Almost all the slides and negatives we receive are significantly scratched.
Images, particularly slides and negatives, are easily scratched.
In the days of analog photography, great pains were taken even in the drying part of the development process itself to avoid scratching, and most films contained a special coating of gelatin on the top layer that was intended specifically to prevent abrasion.
Despite these precautions, slides and negatives are easily scratched. (So easily, in fact, that some artists have taken to scratching, or "distressing" them on purpose.)
This photo of an actual negative frame is roughly actual size. Can you see the scratches?
And the images most at risk for scratching — slides and negatives — have an extra problem: the scratches are almost always invisible to the naked eye.
In practice, the scratches usually become noticeable only when the images are magnified to make a scan or print. In some cases, that might be too late!
Dust and debris are the heart of the problem. While it's possible that you might accidentally abrade the surface with a pencil or paper clip, the leading cause of scratching is when dust or debris on the surface of the film is rubbed into and against the film indirectly. This can happen very easily anytime the negatives or slides are moved and handled. Even the act of cleaning them — done improperly — can scratch them!
91%Proportion of slides and negatives we receive that are already scratched. source: ScanCafe
90% Proportion of slides we receive at ScanCafe that are already significantly scratched.
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