OBA Burnout

Started Aug 10, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Stan Prevost
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OBA Burnout
Aug 10, 2012

Over the weekend I was transporting some bare prints along with some matted and some framed ones in my car. Due to circumstances of the moment, not pertinent to this discussion, they wound up staying in my car for two days. The prints were all covered with a sheet of matboard for protection in handling and from excessive light.

When I went to take the prints out of the car, I noticed that one had partially slid out from under the matboard. Examining it in the outdoor light, I noticed that there was a yellowish appearing strip down one side of the wide white border I had left around the image. I was disappointed that the print had yellowed from light exposure. After getting the prints inside, I examined it again and could not see any variation across the white border. So I took it outside again and could again see the difference. Strange, I thought. So I thought about it some more and reviewed the paper's characteristics.

This was Breathing Color Optica One, a smooth matte paper sprayed with Timeless matte coating. Optica One does have OBAs. So I then theorized that what I was seeing was not yellowing of the paper, it was the natural color of the paper without OBA action, and the unexposed portions next to the "yellow" strip was still exhibiting the brightening effect, making the natural portion seem yellow in comparison. In the indoor light, there was not enough UV to activate the OBAs. The intense light exposure had burned out the OBAs in the exposed portion.

So I contacted Breathing Color and told them my observations, they said it was OBA burnout exactly as I had theorized.

This OBA burnout effect is often brushed aside and pooh-poohed as a mostly theoretical effect that will likely never be seen. And indeed it won't likely show up in a very observable manner if the entire print uniformly experiences burnout, especially if it occurs slowly due to more careful exposure to light. But this experience dramatically demonstrates that the effect is real and very noticeable. Try it with an experiment. But don't bother if you are not interested in print longevity.

I don't know much about these brightening agents and how much they differ among the paper manufacturers. I have no reason to believe that Optica One is any more prone to OBA burnout than other brightened papers. But take care if you are using any brightened paper.

Stan

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