Preparing Photos – Digital vs Paper Formats

Q. What about preparing time capsule photos? Can we just put in a CD/DVD or a thumb drive, or do we need to print them out, too? And, if we print them out, what paper do we use? What ink?Printed Photos in Sleeves

When preparing time capsule photos, provide paper versions of your digital formats, because those who open the capsule in the future need no separate or special device to read them. Our current media reading devices are likely to change within just a few years (remember VHS tapes?). To preserve either paper or digital items, see our archival supplies and preservation kits.

Preparing time capsule photos – digital vs paper formats

If you do use digital media and expect it to last a long time, pay attention to what it’s made out of. For instance, there are the gold discs whose material substrates are superior to the regular ones. Metal and plastic, the materials that make up the disc, degrade over time.

To help prevent such corrosion and deterioration, use pouches made of Corrosion Intercept. This material makes it easy to protect your items in long term storage. Just place the CD or DVD media into the pouches, and then into the time capsule. Use good preservation enclosures for paper media, too (such as those in our supplies and kits).

When we started with the time capsule business, state of the art for media was the 3.25 inch floppy diskette and the Sony Beta videotape. Time flies and media formats change. You can assume there will be changes during the lifetime of your time capsule. Why not provide the paper formats in the first place? And go ahead, include the digital formats, too, because they will be interesting to look at in the future. It’s recapturing the information from the media that will be a challenge. So, include the paper and print versions.

Preparing time capsule photos is easy. You want to print photos for longevity. As of this writing, I recommend Henry Wilhelm’s site as most helpful. See it by searching for "Wilhelm Research" using any internet search engine. He’s tested permanence for papers and inks of popular brands of equipment and materials. Whether you have an Epson, HP, or another brand of printer, you can look up test results on his site. See what the rated ‘years in dark storage’ is for a photo made with the equipment, paper and ink you have. Dark storage is what a time capsule provides.

Make sure the printer ratings match the length of storage in your time capsule.

For a simple, easy and inexpensive way to store all your photos that are in those acidic PROCESSING ENVELOPES – get a pack or 2 of acid free processing envelopes. Write all the info from the processing envelope on the new envelope with a plain #2 pencil. Include the date and the subject as well as information about the people or places.

For more help on how to prepare your time capsule contents properly, please see our article on "7 Time Capsule Preservation Secrets."