Help! digital photo problem


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Forum Donor
Aug 18, 2005
Minneapolis, MN
Framing Solutions MN
I need
to correct a problem with a customers autographed jazz player ditigal photo.

As we are not(yet)computerized, we use a 3 part form to write up the customers orders. The 3rd part goes to the customer, the 2nd part stays with the order.

In this case, the back side of the 2nd part has "carboned" some of the writting onto the front side of the photo. The photo was under the 2nd part, and all we can think of it it got "pressed" and "imprinted" the backside carbon (customers name and address) onto the photo!

At a 45 degree angle, as well as if it is laying flat, the writing is legible. Looking straight on, you can't see it.(The writing imprint is upside down and angled.)

We have tested advesive release which "removed" a bit of the writting, but left a "release" mark on the photo. Since the photo is not on gloss paper, the matte finish absorbed some of the adhesive release. The area effected is also black - flat black.

I have heard of this happening, but it's the first I've experienced it.
This was my project right after the 43x26 plexiglass piece I had just finished, with it's flat matte black areas, limited edition print. When it rains - as it is in MN - it pours.

Any thoughts or ideas regarding the photo?
Thanks in advance for your help.
That's a tough one.. How valuable is the print? Have you tried calling a professional photo lab?
What is the print on, paperwise?
I am in Seattle, but my lab is the best ever.. Maybe try calling them to see if there's a product that will clean the surface? My lab is called Ivey Imaging, and you can ask anyone at the sales counter.. 206-623-8113. (I'm sure they have al the troubleshooting answers to these high tech print questions.. )
My thinking is that some digital prints are coated with a finish on top of the ink to seal it, and if you know what kind of sealant they used, maybe you can remove the that and the writing, and then have a lab seal it again? Or, you could try removing more of the writing yourself and then spraying it with a type of archival matte finish spray to even out the finish?? ooo that could be bad..

I deal personally with old school style photography, so i don't knwo much about digital prints. but, a knowledgable lab should know what you can use, especially b/c the writing is carbon based ..
You need an alchemist

GOOD LUCK!!!!!! Let us all know what happens!!!
Your best bet is to get a new photo. Once they are damaged, digital photos are almost impossible to clean (see the thread on goo on a photo). They are much easier to damage than traditional prints. This is a good lesson as to why you should never, ever write on anything atop art work of any kind. It could happen to a print also since the processes uses to make digital photos are the same as those used to make giclees.
then spraying it with a type of archival matte finish spray
Not trying to pick on you, Trofeo, but I think "archival matte finish spray" is an oxymoron, and I'm pretty sure you know that.

I think what happened is not that somebody wrote on the order form while it was stop the photo, but that the image of the writing transferred while the order form and photo were in storage awaiting framing. I've seen that happen, though not on anything that was irreplaceable.

That's one of the reasons I abandoned carbon-less order forms many years ago. The other reason was the advent of the affordable desktop computer.

the image of the writing transferred while the order form and photo were in storage awaiting framing. I've seen that happen, though not on anything that was irreplaceable.

That's one of the reasons I abandoned carbon-less order forms many years ago. The other reason was the advent of the affordable desktop computer.
Exactly! The photo is signed by the musician, and a note to the the owner. I don't know if it is replaceable. As for the computer - coming soon, but in this case, not soon enough.

Thanks for your comments. I'll try the photo lab mentioned.
Rereading the original post I think your probably right Ron about the carbon transfering while in storage. It was a bit confusing as to how it got there. I usually put artwork in some kind of storage folder or bag. A better place for the 2nd part might be on the outside of the folder. The other possiblity on how the writing got on there is there may have been a chemical reaction with the inks in the photos that caused it to transfer.

The release mark may be the result of the adhesive release taking part of any coating that is on the photo off. Once that is damaged it can't be repaired. It's probably best not to try to do anything else and leave the photo as it is if it can't be replaced. I definitely wouldn't try any kind of spray on it unless you have another photo printed with the same paper and ink to experiment on first and see what it will do to it. There are many different types of digital processes out there and there is no predicting what kind of a reaction they will have.
There are a lot of troubling assertions in this thread, and I'd like to address them. The first is how does MnSue know the photograph is a digital one? There is really no way of telling how an image was captured from how it is printed (and "capture" is what we're talking about when we say "digital photo")

That "digital photographs" are more difficult to clean (impossible?) than a traditional photograph is nonsense. Even if correct terminology is used and we understand that by "digital photo" we mean a photograph printed on an inkjet printer,or dye sublimation printer, the statement is still nonsense. I print photographs, both digital and traditional, on an inkjet printer, and, properly treated with an archival spray (they exist, I use Breathing Color's Glamour II, either gloss or matte - there are several others) they are no more difficult than a traditional print to clean, arguably, easier.

If MnSue's photo had been treated with an archival spray, it would have been a simple matter to clean it with soap and water. Of course, the adhesive release could have quite easily disolved the varnish (current popular varnishes are waterproof but not solvent proof).

None of this helps with MnSue's photograph problem which is probably pretty much of a lost cause. There is a lesson here, though: don't make a bad situation worse by attempting something you know nothing about. The best course to follow in these situations is to call the customer and tell her what happened and then work something out. My experience is that customers are pretty easy to work with when we level with them.

Before you make any atempt to clean a print you have do do the research and testing.

Firstly you have to know what the darn thing is which can be difficult and even impossible to do.

A digital print may be produced on ordinary photographic paper and developed in ordinary photo chemistry and in this case it can be cleaned, treated, retouched, sprayed, laminated, just like any "normal" photograph.

But if the digital print is produced by one of the many direct digital printing systems such as inkjet you are going to have to know the process, the paper, the type of ink, and if the is any post printing protective coating.

Then you are going to have to get suitable advise on how to clean such a print (if possible) or you are going to have to get sample prints of the same type to do some experimenting.

I would start off by using that carbonless paper to make some marks on some other paper or prints, preferably exactly the same type of print, and see what might remove it.

In cases where the visual problem is an uneven surface in the dark parts a post printing treatment such as varnish can often hide this completely.

Digital prints can sometimes be a simple thing to replace because the digital file is still in a computer somewhere and can be reprinted. But when a valuable such as signatures and sentiments have been added almost impossible to replace. In the latter case the long and tedious experimental approach to cleaning and restoration is necessary.

A new vocation for our times - Digital print restorer!

PS - I assume you no longer have those carbonless forms in your shop.
First, this is MnSue - at work - and I want to thank everyone for their thoughts.

As I thought I would have to, I have called the customer and 'fessed up. She was wonderful and said, "I'll get the jazz player to send another!"

So no magic fix, but an unfortunate learning moment - shared for all to learn from.