Scanning negatives is not an exact science

…at least according to Lightroom 4.

Of course I’ve done my research during the last few weeks, and the fact that sometimes I really would like to do something else rather than sticking to what I love, is because there is a lot of experimenting I need to do before I nail down my method.

So lately it’s not been about shooting, scanning, collecting. What it’s really been about is find a photo I like from a roll and start trying to get the right program, the right settings, the right color balance. This of course for every type of roll I shot…. quite annoying and I finally understand my detachment in these past few days. This is work!

So here’s a good example of what I’m talking about. First here’s a shot that I scanned as a positive, which i simply inverted in LR4 without touching color balance and with zero adjustment settings (like auto color, dust removal, backlight correction and so on).

8 5Negative scanned and inverted

Here’s the same shot scanned as a negative so automatically inverted as it’s scanned. Mind the fact that settings are the same (none) and the program used is just Image Capture (OSX).

scanned as a negativeFor easiness of discussing let’s just call them ONE (top) and TWO (bottom).

It’s pretty evident by this demonstration which is the path to continue to go down from now on (and don’t mind the fact that this shot would have needed a couple of adjustments here and there at least to bring the father and the son out of the dark, we’re just focusing on color balance here).

So I understand LR4 may not be the best tool to invert a negative, understandably, but can simple inversion really give this bad result?

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 00.58.10

The answer, coming from a still ignorant mind on the subject, is that I would be better off letting my scanning software guess a best shot (TWO) to start from rather than losing my head starting from scratch (ONE). None of these two pictures reflect the real colors that I witnessed when I took the picture but definitely TWO is much closer and would require less work to improve.

Yeah, I guess giving Photoshop’s Invert tool would be the next option but before that I will try another scanning software. Maybe VUESCAN, just because I heard so many positive feedbacks on it although I did not have a good first approach with it. And I hate those annoying watermarks from the demo, so before I spend the money I will want to make sure it’s really worth it for my workflow.

On a personal note, the wisdom tooth removal is postponed because of work, I’m staying another weekend here at home. So I’ll have to decide whether I want to invest more time in refining my technique (unwillingly I must say) or start scanning away and build my film archive the best way I can (for the time being).

I may choose the latter… I plan to stick with film for quite a while.

nite 🙂

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