Photos Mounted In the Mountains? HELP ME


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Nov 15, 2004
Northborough, MA
Can any one you incredibly knowledgable folks tell me whether or not the thinner air at the top of a mountain will effect the permanancy of a photograph drymounted on foamcore with Photomount tissue?

I've got some that are blistering and bubbling. The ones at the bottom of the mountain are fine. SOOOO, my uneducated guess is that it is the air preasure difference.

Yes? No? Maybe?

Can you help me out PLEASE! I have a very unhappy customer and I'm stumped.

In Oz we have no mountains as such. I'm not even knowledgable but I would say yes it could after reading the thread about vacuum presses

I live at 5500 ft., but have never had any trouble with dry mounting with tissues like Fusion 4000. And I've not yet heard another framer here complain. Have you tried contacting the manufacturer?

Sorry I couldn't be of more help.
I assume Harry means mounting/framing at a lower elevation and display at a higher elevation.

I suppose if a small void was present, the lower pressure at higher elevations would make it blister.
Harry I know that potato chip bags would pop, the Lays salesman told about it happening to him when he drove over some passes in CO! But I can't imagine that their is enough of a pressure difference or altitude change in MA that would cause the issue you see.

Maybe as an experiment you could mount a piece of white paper with a bubble in it, circle the bubble and then mail it to Kathy aka EmiBub or any other high(er) altitude grumbler. Denver is Mile High city and you are probably at 400'! Maybe Kathy could also do the reverse and see if the bubble decreases or goes away!
Bob, are you proposing a Grumble Bubble Exchange?

The package you mail will probably end up in an unpressurized cargo hold for a while, so you'd want to send it by Pony Express or some other means of ground transportation.

I'd recommend the special USPS Super-Urgent Instant Delivery Service. I believe that is hand-carried by a large, bald man who hitch-hikes across the country wearing prison stripes and ankle chains.

Oddly, Albuquerque is at a higher elevation than Denver. (5314 vs 5280.) They just don't make such a big deal about it because they have other attractions.
Maybe they could e-mail the packages to each other.

If this works out I'll have Kathy mount my prints for me that way any bubbles would be insignificant here at sea level!
Or send them to Houston or New Orleans - parts of which are below sea level.

I think there's a Honeydew list waiting for me, and it's a BIG ONE!

The only difference would be atmospheric pressure, and I can't think of a reason for that to affect a good dry mount. But if that place on the mountain top has extremes of temperature or humidity, a poor mount might fail faster.

Are you using a mechanical press or a vacuum press? Were these photos all mounted the same day? It is more likely that the mounting of those photos was defective in some way; perhaps pre-drying (mechanical press only) or the cooling under weight was inadequate, or maybe the temperature or pressure of the press was affected by something that day.
...or you forgot to hold your tongue right and spit over your left shoulder twice. Did you make a blood sacrifice to the Framing Gods that day? They get testy when they don't get a blood sacrifice on mounting day...
I will be happy to conduct any sort of test studies. As a matter of fact, I will be going on a small trip in September which will require driving through the mountains. I am sure my fellow travelers will not mind making periodic stops at even elevation increments in order for me to gather the necessary data. I just hope we can conduct the tests on smaller pictures, as I would imagine usinga 32x40 dry mount would be a might bit unwieldy getting out of the car at the various stops. I don't want to corrupt the data.......

Glad to help!
The photos were all mounted on the same day using the same materials and vaccum press. All photos were pre-dried. No blood sacrifice that day. ****! I forgot. (Stupid, Stupid, Stupid...)

Yes they were mounted here in central MA and shipped to the top of Mt. Washington in NH.

Weather extremes? I think they invented them there.....

They are sending one back for me to look at. I'll let you know what I find as I am sure you can all hardly wait....

By the way, if anyone can figure out how to e-mail a mounted photo, you could revolutionize the world. And not just the framing world....
Wow! Who lives on the top of Mt. Washington? Isn't that the Wind Capital of the North America? I remember seeing pictures of the lodge up there, and it was "held down" with mega chains anchored into the granite to keep it from blowing away.
Oh, boy.

I didn't realize how much difference there is in pressure at the top of Mt Washington. It's currently 23.74", whereas down this way (Lexington, MA) it's currently 29.8". Wow. That's huge. Couple that with the rest of the weather extremes up there and it's a mighty tough environment. Denver, CO currently is experiencing barometric pressure of 30+", so it's unlikely that experiences will be the same for our Rocky Mountain framers.

I wondering if maybe dry mounting is not the way to go in this environment.
How would atmospheric pressure affect a dry mount done correctly? That is, a dry mount with the entire surface area of the art paper's verso secured to the mount board.

It seems that it would come into play only if there is air trapped to expand between the art paper and the mount board. And if that is so, then it would be the symptom of a mount already failed, not the cause of it.
Originally posted by Grumbler F.K.A. Harry:
The photos were all mounted on the same day using the same materials and vaccum press. All photos were pre-dried.
Pre-drying is not necessary for mounting in a vacuum press because the vacuum sucks out moisture as well as air. So, that removes the concern about moisture during mounting.

Harry, did you cool these under weight? Cooling without weight could cause a loose mount. The art paper, drymount tissue/film, and mount board all cool at different rates, and they will warp/buckle/separate unless a weight maintains pressure on all layers until the adhesive solidifies. Sometimes weak spots in the mount are obvious, but sometimes it is impossible to see that parts of the adhesive area did not bond.
Since physics would suggest that an item mounted
at higher pressure might de-laminate as pressure is reduced and not vice versa, Jim's suggestion about maintaining pressure as the item cools seems to be the most helpful.

What will be more interesting is when the piece sent back to you looks flat in your store or at least less bubbled up. This would be the smoking gun so to speak that it is all about atmospheric pressure. Remember the pieces that come in rippled from the customers place and while in your store, it flattens out? Could be the same thing here.

What are your plans for how to fix the problem if they are releasing from the foam core?

I hope they understand about pressure differences. This is something you would never confront in the regular everyday business of framing. Ask them how other pieces for the gallery were done so you may duplicate that method.

Unless you can remove these pieces cleanly, you will probably have to get anothr copy and redo it using a better quality mounting adhesive.

Be prepared to have to pay for replacements. Maybe they will split the cost as neither of you could have known about pressure differences affecting the process.

Good luck.

If Denver ever experiences barometric pressure of 30+ inches, we are all in deep trouble. That 30 inches is probably an altimeter setting that is used to correct altimeters for variations in barometric pressure related to weather. Altimeter settings are necessary for aircraft separation from other aircraft and terrain, and for knowing where to expect to find a runway in bad weather. Actual barometric pressure decreases from sea level by about 1 inch per thousand of elevation.

Pat :D
I dunno. I just looked it up on this page:

They didn't say anything about it being an altitude corrected number, though it did seem high to me given as a station pressure.
I am framing and mounting at about 7500 ft in Colorado and previously in New Mexico. I have never had any problems. The only time I ever got any bubbling was if I left it in too long or at too high of a temperature. I had to let the piece cool and then put it back in the press for the correct amount of time AND TEMP.