Monday, 13 April 2015

Scanning Photographs

Before adjustments in  Photoshop
Using a scanner for photographs is slowly becoming a thing of the past. I say a thing of the past but what I really mean is that you no longer need to use a flat bed scanner to reproduce your photographs to share with people digitally. You can if you wish use your smart phone or digital camera to reproduce the pictures you make.

As some of you know, most of the black and white images I share with you on this blog are scanned from photographs. Over the years I have developed a simple method for getting the best from my scanned prints and negatives. I like to keep things straightforward when it comes to digitizing prints. There is no point in doing a lot of work in Photoshop when I have already done it in the darkroom.

Levels adjustment.
Hus and saturation adjustment.

I use a very old flat bed Epsom scanner. I open the software on the computer and a window comes up with a number of pre-sets on it. In most cases I scan at original size, that's because my photographs are A4 and larger. This is done at three hundred DPI. I usually end up with a file size of about twenty four megabytes and under four thousand pixels on the longest side which is more than enough for screen display. The unsharp mask is set to medium. I always scan in colour even for monochrome and save the files as tiffs. Dust removal is set to zero, I have found it better to use a very slightly damp cloth wiped over the scanning window a few minutes before use to remove any bits. Far better than letting the software do it.

After all the adjustments have been added
Once on the computer I open the file in Photoshop. I check the picture at one to one for blind pixels, specks, process faults and dust etc, that have transferred from the darkroom process. The scanner tends to flatten the contrast of my images so I adjust the contrast to replicate that of the photograph in a levels mask. Once done I open hue and saturation mask to adjust the tone of the picture. If you use toned papers and developers the scanner under represent these as well hence the adjustment. Once done I flatten the layers and re-size it for web use.

I know what you are thinking that's a lot of work just to share a picture. If you think it is a good picture it's worth the work. It is a lot less work than some digital photographers do, who can use some forty or fifty layers to get the picture right.

Taken with a camera

I have included a picture from my phone and digital camera for comparison. Both pictures have been checked in Photoshop. Adjustments? Levels a slight tweak but no where near as much as the scanned photograph. The thing to watch for are reflections especially with gloss paper. If you look carefully you will notice some but not enough to detract from the picture.

A phone or a digital camera is a good way round not having a scanner for sharing images of photographs. These methods will not completely replace the consistent quality of a good scanner but will allow you to share you analogue work if you are on a tight budget.

taken with a smart phone.