Photo Printing

Print Fading

Historically, photographs printed using a computer printer have had a nasty reputation for fading over a fairly short period of time, especially if exposed to sunlight. The problem is that the ultraviolet wavelengths in sunlight destroy the pigment molecules in the ink, causing colours to disappear. Printer and ink manufacturers have worked long and hard to combat this problem over the past few years, and with considerable success. Using a modern inkjet printer from any of the major manufacturers, loaded with proprietary ink and paper, your prints will be safe from fading for many years. Canon says that photos printed on its printers and stored in an album are good for at least 100 years, and the other manufacturers make similar claims.

Photos that are framed and displayed are obviously more prone to fading, but even so modern printing inks are very fade-resistant, and even photos that are permanently exposed to daylight should be good for a couple of decades at the very least, although it’s a good idea to use proper glass frames. Glass absorbs a lot of the UV light that causes fading. The glass-framed photos above have been hanging on my wall for nearly three years now and show no signs of deterioration. This compares favourably with traditional chemical photographic prints from film images. If you don’t believe me take a look at some decades-old snapshot prints some time, especially ones done in one-hour photo labs. You’ll find that many of them will have faded quite badly.

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