Huh???? Sticky goo on photo


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Feb 14, 2004
Nicholasville, KY
Okay doke..had a kids school picture to frame today. Normal photo paper, matte finish etc.
Had a little bit of dirt on it from being handled.
Touch it with a slightly damp paper towel and got an oil slick!

***I knew I could get a replacement easily and it was ruined all I....***

kept wetting it with water and wiped all the "goo" off. Even when I had it all wiped off it was still tacky. I took my heat gun on low heat and dried the photo. It dried perfectly and you can not tell anything happened. Texture is perfect, etc. What was this stuff? Some kind of water soluable fixative????????

Why did it come off so easy!!? Picture looks 100% fine and just like it did before I touched it.
Man, you are braver than I am. I would never wipe a photo with water and a paper towel.
Probably not a fixative. Probably just some "gunk" that the photo acquired from handling. It could be anything-lubricant from one of the photo processing machines, food, oil from someone's hands, anything.

Jo, water is ok to use on photos but I would be hesitant to use paper toweling because it could scratch. I usually use distilled water and q-tips or a cotton ball to clean things off of photos. If that doesn't work, I try unseal but only on our own photos from our studio since I know they don't have any lacquer on them and I know I can get them reprinted easily.

I have dried photos with a hair dryer on a very low setting but the one time I tried a heat gun I melted the photo! :eek:
It was one of those super soft cotton feeling paper towels that I accidentally bought a roll of

Yes it was distilled water by the way. Checked the photo this morning. Still fine.

I am going to get another one of the photos and do a spot check in the corner. These are out of the same photos as that 4 x 6 one I am working on. very afraid to laminate it now.....
It was tacky because it was the emulsion layer which is tacky when wet but ok when dry.

Who ever told you you could just wipe dirt from a photo with water and a paper towel?? :eek: :confused:

That is without a doubt, the one of the stupidest thing I have ever heard anyone do!

Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!

Note: we are talking about mass produced school pictures. Not high quality done photos.

Actually this has happened twice before over the years (dirty photos) both photographers (the big ones in this area) told me that was how to get it clean but I had no sticky issues. Maybe the processing place where I live finishes the photos differently....

It was just a speck near the bottom. I was not wiping just dabbing it off, etc. Very carefully.

Also...remember I had a stack of replacements if I needed it, so I had nothing to loose.

Water sounds a lot safer than lighter fluid..

I never got a flaming smiley before
Just curious, why are you laminating the photo?
Let me recap:

I had a "oh sh*t moment"

***I knew I could get a replacement easily and it was ruined all I....***

then I experimented WITH NOTHING TO LOOSE ;)

then I posted on grumble

Now I feel silly but I am convinced some sort of coating had been put on the picture.

If it matters they are done on Fuji Film paper and the paper is VERY flimsy and thin.
Why laminating? The place that is doing the mounting has a heat applied laminate with UV capabilities. The school does not want to spend the money needed for UV acrylic or conservation glass. Glass would also be a problem being hung where it is going - in the main hallway of the school about 6 feel off the ground.
"I never got a flaming smiley before."

Always glad to help!!

Actually, one of the problems with using water is that they might have been printed on a desktop printer and we all know they definitely don't like water. The inks get all messed up. There are photo cleaners out there that don't interfere with the emulsions on prints and films. Bestine and Unseal (pretty much the same stuff) also work to clean some photos. Nothing I know of will clean a desktop print.
For future reference, you might want to give a call to a photo processor and see what they use.

Have you ever gotten one of these??
I knew not to use water on a desktop printer print, but this was not one of them.

I placed a call this morning into the place that did the photos to get some info.

I am very safe with peoples work and I would not have even touched it if I did not have a stack of others.

From talking to the teacher who organized all of this - they supposedly put some kind of protective coating on the pictures.....just now trying to find out what kind!
From what the photographer and printing place is telling me: They were actually printed on a Durst Lamda printer and possibly have a protective coating applied!!!
The Durst Lambda prints on standard photo paper such as Kodak Professional Paper. This is a digital printer but not an inkjet. It exposes photographic paper using a laser - the paper is then developed in the usual photo chemistry. These papers are "Resin Coated", a plastic layer on both sides of the paper which carries the emulsion and seals the paper from absorbing water and chemistry during processing.

To clean a modern Resin Coated Photo:

Tape residue and glue - acetone

Ink - Lacquer thinner

If all else fails try Toluene

In the case of something which may require water such as oatmeal, the entire print should be put in a tray of room temperature water for a couple of minutes allowing the entire emulsion to swell (it will look a little purple), cleaned using your fingers, then hung by one corners to dry. By wetting the whole print the drying will be even leaving no water spots.

For finger prints - just rub lightly with a clean finger until the skin oils on the print are absorbed by your skin. Takes up to 30 seconds of gently moving your finger in a circle.

But before you start you have to be sure it's NOT an inkjet print!!

I suggest you get some old photos and try the above techniques so you have confidence when a real need occurs.
Bandsaw thanks! That is basically what I did last night, but instead of putting it in a tray I just poured the water on it - like I said I was experimenting after I "ruined" it.

Resin coated - what about dry mount? Can it be done??????????
Resin Coated is the standard photo paper since about 1975. Drymount, laminate (hot and cold)are all fine if done correctly.

Great for canvas transfer - laminate and pull the laminate, emulsion, and the resin coating off one side of the paper and then drymount onto canvas and stretch.

Some photographers strip the emulsion and resin coating without laminating as they think they get a better canvas texture - very delicate procedure. Each photographer, including me, seems to have their own "secrets" to get the best canvas look.
Gotcha! It would be a low heat laminate.
Thanks for the info! I really appreciate it!
My preferances for mounting and laminating resin coated photos such as those on Kodak Professional Paper:

Mount with Drytac Trimount Tissue - 2-3 min at 180 degrees.
In the mechanical press we don't clamp down very hard and use a thin laminating foam over the release paper. In the vacuum press the vacuum is about 12 inches of mercury (yes - that's the unit of measure, not PSI)and again we use a thin foam. If your vacuum press doesn't have adjustable pressure I suggest you contact the supplier - ours is a Vacuseal and they supplied us with a retrofit kit. It's just a valve that allows you to leak some air to reduce vacuum.

Laminate with Drytac pre-perforated Satinex or Matte - 5 min at 200 degrees (If the humidity is high they often need another 3 to 5 min)
When laminating the press is clamped down hard and the vac press up to the max - about 25.
It seems to me a photographer friend told me that the old McDonald* lacquer finishes have largely been replaced (because of safety and environmental concerns) with a (possibly water-soluble) coating, so your original guess may be right.

If that were they case, though, I would expect that anything other than a thorough bath would have resulted in an uneven finish when you cleaned the photo.

I could be imagining the whole thing, too. It's getting much harder for me to separate truth from fantasy with regard to framing and photography. Eventually, I'll just stick to opinions about health insurance and dogs.

*Not to be confused with the Old McDonald sprays - (ee-eye-ee-eye-o.)
Ron, the new coatings are water based, not water soluable, as opposed to the old ones that were solvent based and really bad for your health. Water won't make them come off (otherwise there would be real problems on humid days.) I know there are also some types of printers that can put a thin laminate on the picture as it is made but I think those are mostly inkjet printers.

Not wishing to start an argument, but are you sure about <u>acetone</u> for adhesives and oils?

I fiddled around with acetone on a RC print a few years ago and it essentially dissolved it by turning the emulsion into a gooey mess.

I use naphtha (lighter fluid) for grease and adhesives with pretty good results.
One of my mentors in retouching used to always use ear wax and nose grease to remove bits of adhesive from prints. The nose grease does actually work, I tried it a few times with good results. I buff the grease off afterwards gently with a soft cotton glove.
That's disgusting, Anne!

Please don't tell us about the applications for toe jam and belly-button fuzz.
Originally posted by Ron Eggers:
That's disgusting, Anne!

Please don't tell us about the applications for toe jam and belly-button fuzz.
There are none but spit makes a good solvent for photographic dyes if you don't have distilled water. Just never stick your brush in your mouth or get the dyes in your mouth. Wet a q-tip and use that.
Arguments are good if done in the right spirit - I have been wrong before.

On the acetone issue:

I just took some prints including Kodak Professional paper, Fuji Crystal Archive paper, and some Agfa paper and poured acetone on them and wiped them with a cotton cloth. All came out just fine and very clean.

I also tried an Epson inkjet print and a Kodak Dyesub print and the acetone ruined both prints.

The key thing is to know what it is you have to work with or at least test on a corner or border.

I have a 3 bottles above my work table with acetone, lacquer thinner , and toluene and these have made the dirty print thing easy for me. I will continue to use these but I have to be more and more carefull to be sure what the darn print is made of.

The Kodak Dye Sublimation printers such as in the "Kodak Picture Maker" print a protective layer on the print - it allows the print to be handled but doesn't protect much.

Nose grease was traditionally used for scratches on negatives, works well but not usually on prints - BW prints are so easy to retouch.

One print spray I use was converted by the manufacturer to water base a few years ago and didn't work as well but I recently bought a can and it's no longer water base apparently they've gone to some mineral spirits base - it works really great. But I feel guilty using it - however I seldon use sprays any more, just in emergencies.

PS - for those sensitive folks, nose grease is just wiping your finger on the skin of your nose - nothing internal!
Originally posted by McPhoto:
Hey Anne -
Would boxers work too?
No. It has to be a soft knit material similar to what cotton gloves are made of. The softer, the better, which is why well worn material is good. And it has to be white. Boxers are made of woven material which is too scratchy. You could use white cotton women's underwear too if you have it.
Originally posted by AnneL:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by McPhoto:
Hey Anne -
Would boxers work too?
You could use white cotton women's underwear too if you have it. </font>[/QUOTE]I'll ask my customer if she'll donate!
Can someone summarize how to clean a laser, inkjet, & RC photo?
Sorry about that, I got interrupted by a customer and didn't get the last post completed.

The only kind of photos you can clean are traditional RC prints. Laser and inkjet prints cannot be cleaned because the inks/dyes used to make them are very easily damaged and often soluable in water and chemicals.

How you clean an RC print depends on what is on it and whether it has been coated with lacquer. On an uncoated print, I usually start by placing a cotton ball dampened (not soaking wet, just moist) with distilled water on the spot and leaving it there for 10-15 minutes. I might rub very gently but photos scratch easily so I'm always very careful what I do. After removing the cotton ball and letting the print air dry, if the offending substance is still there I will try something more aggresive like Unseal on a q-tip.
Most of the time though I am dealing with photos we have created in our own studio so I know if I wreck it I can have it reprinted easily.