Now that peak vacation time is upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to give some information about how to care for your film before and after it is exposed. Film is delicate, and can be affected by moisture, dirt, and temperature changes. Any of these environmnetal factors can ruin your film or degrade the images that you create.
One of the safest places to store film is right in the plastic container that it is bought in. These containers are designed to protect the film inside from dirt, moisture, and sudden changes in temperature. If you will be keeping film on hand for any length of time, the best place to store it is in the refrigerator or freezer. Keeping your film cold will prolong its life and prevent unsightly color shifts that accompany aging film.
On the other hand, heat will destroy film, so be sure to protect against high temperatures (over 100 degrees F). If you have to store film in your car or other hot location, put it in a cooler or other insulated container with a cold pack.
If you are traveling by air, you may be concerned about x-ray exposures. Most photographers seem to agree that one or two passes through x-ray security does not harm film, although more passes may affect it. Also, most agree that higher speed films (ISO 800 or 400 as compared to ISO 100) are more susceptible to damage by x-rays. If you are concerned about x-rays, you can do a couple of different things. First, transport your film in a separate container in your carry-on luggage. There are special containers that can be purchased for protecting small amounts of film from x-rays. If you have a larger amount of film, remove it from the plastic canisters and place it in clear bags. Then, when you reach airport security, request that the film be hand inspected. Airport security in the U.S. generally grant this request.
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