Damaged negatives - what is causing and what can be done?

Hi there

Just wondering whether anyone has come across damaged negatives similar the the example below?

All of my negatives have been stored in sleeves, in cool and dry cupboards, but I wonder whether the few that have deteriorated may not have been processed as well as the other (inferior lab?).

My questions:

  1. What is actually happening to the negatives to deteriorate? Some kind of chemical reaction?
  2. Is it possible to safely clean in some way?
  3. If not possible to clean, any tips of post processing to remove in either Lightroom or Photoshop would be much appreciated.

Note that I have checked for light leaks etc - this is definitely damage to the negatives. My other negatives in good condition are rendering perfectly.

Thanks & regards


I had a few photos (on paper) with yellow stains originating from processing errors while fixing and watering. Tried to remove the stains by fixing and watering again, which has removed the stains or ruined the print, depending on unknown reasons. With a print, the risk is acceptable, but not with a negative.

Depending on how the colours have shifted and where, you could try to compensate with local adjustments or the H, S and L sliders. Mask out the curtains and then lower yellow saturation.

You might find more about what to do here and wherever a search might lead you.

i had alot of problems when i switched from tetenal chemicals to cinestill ones. But i also switched from AP Tank to constant agitation Labbox. Might be my own fault but i have the feeling tetenal is somewhat more forgiving.

If the negative was processed under less than ideal circumstances, it may not have been washed properly. Or it may not have been completely cleared in the fixer or bleach-fix. Or, if a stabilizer was part of the final rinse, it may have been left out. Or (not in your case, I’m assuming) it may have been stored improperly, in a hot or humid place, or in the wrong storage materials such as PVC pages or acidic paper envelopes.

“Color dyes may, in time, fade.” That statement is on most color film boxes. If you’re good at post-processing, you know how to correct this. You can clone, you can sample and paint, you can use masking and gradient filters… or any number of techniques. It’s a slow, laborious process.

Same problem, please take a look at this thread: