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Review the scanning techniques graphics professionals and photographers use, while delving into workflow considerations and the advanced image-quality controls available in most scanning software. Author Taz Tally explains the core concepts, such as how resolution and interpolation affect scans; introduces the industry-standard SilverFast scanning software; and shares the settings to achieve the best results from a scan. The course also covers keeping your scanner and its parts clean and free of dust, and includes a variety of start-to-finish scanning tasks.
Here we are going to address scanning negatives, and if you watched the previous movie on scanning slides, I've got a lot of the same things to say about scanning negatives as far as the basic setup is concerned. When we scan, particularly small dimension negatives, we are going to typically be enlarging them a good deal, and 500, 600, 700, 800% enlargement is not uncommon, going from small, like 120 film size, up to a 5x7 or 8x10. That means that we want our images to be super clean, because anything that is on that negative is going to be enlarged. And here, when we take this particular negative and we look at it, look at all the garbage on that film.
I could spend hours trying to clean that puppy up. And even if you could clean it up, you lose so much quality, because so much of the detail gets lost, so you really, really want to clean up that negative once you get it inside the film holder. Just like our discussion of film holders for slides, you have the same emulsion side up or emulsion side down question, and it really depends upon your scanner and how it's set up in the software or where the detection device is. So be sure that you pay close attention, because if you don't pay attention to that, you'll end up with this. On the left-hand side here we see an image that was placed in the scanner properly, and let's just Zoom in here and take a look at the details here on the side.
And here's the exact same image, but it's scanned improperly, with the improper side up, and look at it, about the same magnification. And just compare the details along the edges here. See how much sharper this is. That was the proper alignment and orientation of the film in terms of the scanner. Scanner just couldn't focus. Even though a lot of the dedicated film scanners have automatic focus, they can only focus so far, and if the emulsion is in the wrong direction, you're just going to get a poor quality scan. Okay.
So back to SilverFast then, let's talk about setting up our software for scanning negatives. And even if you are not using SilverFast, if you are using some other application, you'll have some of the similar set up value. SilverFast probably has a couple of bells and whistles that others don't for scanning negatives. But the first thing you'll want to do is go to the General Frame and choose Negative, and what that does is invert the image and create a positive out of it. And assuming we've done our basic Prescan, then we'll go back to Frame, and we can decide whether we want to scan the entire image or just part of the image, and here I've done a little bit of manual crop.
And for this particular image, I am not exactly sure what I want the final crop to look like, so I'm just going to do a quick manual crop here and I am ultimately going to end up with something like a 5x7. So what I am going to do, in this case I am going to get close, so I'll put like 600% enlargement, so I get a 5.6 by 8.3, and I'll complete the rest of the crop later on. This means that I am not going to be doing a lot of interpolation later on. I am just going to be doing cropping. If you know exactly the dimensions that you want, go ahead and scan it, but I don't know how much of these people I want in the final image or whether I want a little bit more sky, I just don't know.
We'd do a rough crop here. make sure we have enough pixels to give us the output dimension at which we want to finally print it. Remember, if you are going to output this image to multiple dimensions, you have 8x10 and 5x7, then always scan for the largest dimension that you want. Notice that we'll set 300 pixels per inch as the final resolution after the scaling is done. And if you hold down that Ctrl key, this number then becomes actual optical resolution at which the scanner is going to be working, which is 1800. So SilverFast does the math for you, which is nice.
We'll name it Fireworks_RGB_300 and then we're ready to start setting our Exposure. And in SilverFast, when you choose Negative, this NegaFix dialog box comes up. And one of the things that's a little bit different about negatives compared to slides which are positives is that there's an enormous variety of film emulsions available for negatives. So what you typically need to do is you'll come down here and set these three basic features of the film. it's called the film term, and you'll want to choose the manufacturer, in this case it was Kodak, and then choose the Film Type, which was Gold, and then the ASA, which was 100.
What this does is it tends to neutralize the image, because every film emulsion in negative film has a different colorcast to it. That may be the only controls that you have on your scanning software. In fact, some scanning software don't even have that, they just kind of have a negative, you choose negative, and then go from there. And you can still accomplish good scans. It just may take you a little bit more work. Now, what you also have here is an Exposure correction, and it starts at 0, and you can go up and down, up to three f- stops, lighter and darker on your image. So it's kind of like a Curves adjustment, but it's really called Exposure adjustment, so it's very similar.
If you are not happy with the way the image looks you can say, oh, I'd like to brighten it one f-stop. It goes up by a 10th of an f- stop, so we may take this one up. And then this also has a Tolerance adjustment here, and the Tolerance adjustment is really about colorcast, and these two actually work together. If you've got one of the more recent versions of SilverFast AI or Studio, it has this CCC, which is the Automatic Color Cast Correction. Notice when I turn this on, the image tends to neutralize a little bit. If you look at the sparkles here without it, there is a little bit of a red cast to it, and you can turn it on and it takes off some of that colorcast.
This is also a colorcast adjustment as well. If you push this all the way to the right, you can take out more colorcast. So these are some automatic or semiautomatic tools that you can bring to bear for taking out colorcast in the film. The reason why it's been added here is that it's very common for negative films to have colorcast. By the way, if you're not sure what your Film Type is, well, just try different ones, because even though it's a Kodak, you may not know it's Kodak. But if you choose Ilford, the world is not going to come to an end. It's just going to put a little bit different colorcast in the image.
Anyway, so that's the basic set up. And from here, then we go to our standard tools for evaluating and adjusting images. And we'll Option+click on our Highlight tool to set the lightest point of the image, and it brings up our Fixed Pipette with that value, and then we'll Option+click on the Shadow area, which puts the shadow portion. And if there is some critical portions of this image, like I might decide, all right, I am going to put a third point right up here at the top of the image, because I want to make sure that I maintain Shadow detail on this blend that is lighter, lower in the sky and then goes darker.
All right, let's do a quick eval of our values that we see here in our Fixed Pipette, and this is one of the reasons why it's so important to do these color correction by the numbers, because you actually see what the values are. And notice that this is indeed blown out. It's pure white, and you can decide whether you want to leave it that way, or you can tone it back a little bit. Look at the shadow of value number 2, notice that we're down to 9 and 7 and 10, and down here, point number 3, which is our sky, we see, well, the values are pretty good, they are all up above 15, so we are looking pretty good in terms of the Shadow detail there.
There is no Shadow detail here when we go to print, because it's below 12, so that's going to be between 95 and 100%. But notice that's not a critical portion of the image. If you want to move your hand over the rest of the image, you can look at some of the other values up here in the densitometer. So then to complete this we might do just a little bit of adjustment. We'll select a Scan Type of 48 to 24 bit. If you want to do a lot editing on this, of course you can go to 48 bit color if you want to. We'll stick with the standard 48 to 24. Then let's go to our Histogram tool, and notice we've got a full range of data here, all the way from Highlight to Shadow.
Doesn't surprise us that we have got our data bumped up against the right side, because we have got values in the high 250s here. If we wanted to lower these values a little bit, we can do that. We can't do it here. you can do it in the output compression of the color space. Watch this, if we wanted to lower these down to the mid-240s, so we had some data in that Highlight, there we go, you can just move the Output slider until these values move to the 240s. Same thing with the Shadow. Watch the Shadow values here. If we wanted that to be at least 95%, we can do a fine-tune adjustment there.
And just always monitoring that point number 3, just to make sure that this doesn't drop down too low to make sure we've got plenty of Shadow detail there. For my inkjet printer, if I've got something above 15-20, I am typically pretty good. I know everything above 20 is going to print just fine. There we go, there is our basic adjustment for Highlights and Shadows, not too much to do here. I might come in and go to our Curves tool, and I might go to our Contrast tool and just increase contrast just a little bit on this image. Remember, a little bit goes a long way on this Contrast tool, and you can see if you like a little bit more, a little bit less contrast.
Monitor your values here. notice how when we do this our number 2 values drop down a little bit. So if we increase Contrast, you want to make sure those stay up above 12. You can come here and just fine tune that again to make sure they go up above 12. There we go. We set our film terms, we've removed some colorcast, we've done a little bit of Highlight and Shadow adjustment, and pumped up the Contrast a little bit using our Curves tool. Let's go ahead and talk about Sharpening. If I don't intend to edit this image later, then I am going to go ahead and apply Sharpening. But if I am going to edit it, then I am going to wait till later on in my workflow, and as you know, that's my typical ammo.
I like to apply Sharpening after the scan. All right, Let's complete the scan. You notice these scans when you go to film a little bit slower than the flatbed scanner, because we are scanning at such high resolutions, it takes a little bit long for the scanner to capture that data. And there we go, there is our fireworks on display.
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