When known, the photographer is identified in the caption of each photograph.

CFS - Many of the photographs here were taken by Carl F. Stoneburner (1905-1993) who was born in, and grew up at, Lantz Mills. These are identified on the date line as "by CFS." He was a physicist and kept as accurate personal records as he did notes in the laboratory where he worked (National Bureau of Standards). I trust his notes implicitly. He recorded subject, date and time of exposure, type of film, chemical developer or establishment used, f-stop, exposure time, lighting conditions, lens used, etc. (Aside: Although the time that virtually every picture was taken is known, these times were generally reported here only if they appeared relevant.)

These well documented photographs record much about life and family history in his era.

PDS - Photographs so identified on the date line were taken by Carl's son, Paul (1942- ).


Time ravages film. It is not the stable platform many envision. In fact, it deteriorates quite dramatically in some instances depending not only on how it was stored and cared for, but on the very substances it was constructed of in the first place. I had a number of black & white negatives which had shrunk and buckled, and to which the silver image was actually no longer adhering. In an effort to understand what was happening and perhaps find a way to stop or reverse the process, I contacted a number of preservation experts in various museums, etc. The best answer, though not exactly what I wanted to hear, came from the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. I present it here for your edification because the same things may happen to negatives you hold.

Ignoring the physical condition of the film base due to time, several comments regarding image quality and the effects of time on the dyes should be made here.

First, regarding the black and white negatives. On many occasions, the same subject was photographed several times with different exposures to "bracket" exposure to assure a good picture. With digital enhancement, usually the inferior images can be made better, and occasionally effectively as good as the best, leaving the viewer who doesn't know this to wonder why there are multiple pictures of the same thing. (This web site usually only contains one of these "duplicate" images.)

Color photos present a different problem. Over time, many of the dyes have faded, different colors at different rates. This results in pictures with color balance problems which are between difficult and impossible to correct. In a number of instances one of the (three) dyes had completely disappeared leaving no image whatsoever in that color channel. What was left of these images have been converted to black & white. Clearly, it would have been better to have scanned these images twenty, thirty or more years ago; but the technology did not then exist.

Of interest is that the oldest pictures have, for the most part, done an excellent job of retaining their colors and the newest have not yet deteriorated too much. Those in the middle are the worst. I attribute this to the way in which the film was processed. In the "olden days" processors thoroughly washed both negatives and prints of all chemicals. This resulted in a stable image.

Then some bozo in the photographic industry discovered it possible to take a processing short-cut and "neutralize" the chemicals instead of removing them. Both film and prints are routinely "neutralized" these days and given only a cursory wash. (Why do you think it is that you can "get your photos in an hour?") The result is chemicals left behind which do their dirty work over time. When you first get them from the drug store or wherever, they look great; but look at them again after five or ten years and the once beautiful pictures range anywhere from off-color to disappeared.

When you order film returned uncut, it is returned in a roll with a (hopefully) acid free paper to separate the layers of film and keep them from sticking to each other. Often, over time, the images on the film will transfer or ghost onto this paper; a further proof that the film received inadequate cleaning. One good example of this was roll EC which transferred quite recognizable images to the separating paper.

When doing the work himself (with 35mm film), Carl always washed both his film and prints for several hours until completely clean with the result that both his negatives and prints have withstood the test of time. I have photos he printed sixty years ago and the images are still crisp, unfaded black and white. (He never did any color work, primarily he once told me, because of the critical temperature stability required for which he had inadequate equipment. And, I have no evidence that he did his own processing of any of the large format negatives which were the subject of the letter to Eastman House.)

Almost without exception, each and every image has been retouched before being stored. Many rolls required four hours or more of labor to simply scan and perform preliminary clean-up the images. There are even several individual pictures upon which a number of hours were lavished to clean them up because they were deemed to be worth the effort. Retouching may have involved color correction, dust and mold removal, scratch touch up, restoration of faded images or missing image parts, as well as just plain enhancement of the original image.

Paradoxically, some of the worst looking pictures have had the most work done on them. Some were so underexposed that nothing could be discerned until scanned and enhanced, at which time something could be seen and perhaps identified. Conversely, some were very overexposed and again nothing visible initially; this is a more severe error and, in general, cannot be satisfactorily salvaged. Several entire rolls are in this category. And some I made better but not perfect because it was just too time consuming and I got tired of it.
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