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Setting up wet scans

From: Scanning Techniques for Photography, Art, and Design

Video: Setting up wet scans

Here I'd like to introduce you to and show you how to create a wet scan mount. The concept of oil or fluid mounting scan has been used for decades by high-end drum scanner operators to create the very highest quality scans from films. The way this works is you have a more simplified, more direct light path through your film which reduces dispersion and reflection of light, and therefore reduces optical aberration such as Newton rings. In addition putting in a wet scan mount gives you a much flatter surface which gives you more consistent focus, and you'll get greater detail than you seek in a dry scan, you get better color saturation, superior sharpness, improved contrast, much expanded dynamic ring, and even you can minimize and even visually remove scratches because the oil fills in the scratches.

Setting up wet scans

Here I'd like to introduce you to and show you how to create a wet scan mount. The concept of oil or fluid mounting scan has been used for decades by high-end drum scanner operators to create the very highest quality scans from films. The way this works is you have a more simplified, more direct light path through your film which reduces dispersion and reflection of light, and therefore reduces optical aberration such as Newton rings. In addition putting in a wet scan mount gives you a much flatter surface which gives you more consistent focus, and you'll get greater detail than you seek in a dry scan, you get better color saturation, superior sharpness, improved contrast, much expanded dynamic ring, and even you can minimize and even visually remove scratches because the oil fills in the scratches.

Let me show you a demo about how this works. Here we have this beautiful micaceous schist, this white mica-schist and this represents a nice dry scan. Notice everything looks very nice, but when we add moisture to this, look what happens, look how all the sharpness goes up, the detail, better contrast, better color saturation. This is the difference between the dry scan and a wet scan. It's really worthwhile when you want the highest of qualities. If you'd like to see a little bit more detail about how that light path works and you get the reduction of the reflection.

Look at page 11 in the ScanScience book that comes with your course. A really great news is that wet scanning is now available for desktop scanners, you don't have to be a high-end drum scanner operator, you don't have to pay a $100,000 or more for a scanner, you can do it with the scanners you've got right now. Now to make the wet scanning technique work, we need to make a wet scanning sandwich and the way this sandwich works is we take a piece of optically pure glass, we add some scanning fluid, and then the film, more scanning fluid, and then optically pure plastic overlay and we make a scan sandwich and that's what creates that beautiful light path through the film.

If you'd like to see a little bit more detail about that, look on page 13 in the ScanScience book. I want to note that there is a PDF of the entire fluid science book provided by ScanScience for everyone who takes this course, please read it, enjoy it, learn from it, there is enormous amount of information, but please don't copy it and redistribute it. All right, so if hopefully I have convinced you that the beauty that you can get from a wet scan mount, let's talk about how to accomplish this. First let's talk about the tools for wet scanning. Talk about the work setup space. First thing we want to have is a really, really clean environment, right? Dust-free, and earlier we talked about the fact of covering up your scanning environment when you're not using it, it goes two to three times when you are talking about wet scanning, because any time you add moisture to this whole environment, where it's just going to collect dust and it's going to go right to your film.

All right, so assuming this is all dust- free now, we are going to keep it that way, you have a nice big table, nice solid table to work with and then we are going to have a glass workspace like this. There is a couple of ways you can get this. I like to use frosted glass like I have here because it creates a little bit of opacity. It allows me to see things a little bit easier, particularly since it's glass-on-glass sometimes you can lose that. And then get some bounty, bounty quicker picker, amazingly the stuff you can get in almost any grocery store is almost lint-free. It's not as good as pec pads, all right, but it' good enough to use as a surrounding border here, and the reason why we put it on here and tape it down is so that any fluid gets off to the edges is just absorbed by the bounty.

So we have a nice glass working surface, what else you can use is the kitchen cutting boards, the glass cutting boards you have in kitchens, those works very well too. All right, in addition to that we are going to have some tape that we can use for taping down our edges and even taping our scanner if we get done. I have some canned air and I use this quite a bit in this process for cleaning things. And then we are going to have a lens cleaning fluid, for cleaning of our glasses. And then we are going to have the pec pads that we see here for cleaning things. And then we also need some fluid scanning solution of course to actually put in our sandwich, and then we are going to need a magnifying glass for looking at our sandwich.

It's a nice pair of tweezers for lifting things up. And we want a real high quality squeegee, nice soft rubber, make sure that edge is very consistent and not damaged and I suggest you get a new one and just use it for this purpose, don't use it for anything else. And then I also like to have these real high quality cotton swabs, the once that are pretty lint-free for using this process, and then finally a nice razor blade, you can hold it in your hand and use that for lifting up some of these pieces to just make that process quite a bit easier. Now in addition over here, we've got a few other things you can use, a nice light table, a portable light table is good, and you can use a hair-dryer to help with the drying process, a little bit more on that later.

All right, so there are all the tools and supplies that we need. Let's go ahead and actually make us a wet scan mount. All right, the way this process works, and the pieces that we put in here, so I mentioned is we have some optically pure glass and then we have the film, and notice how I've got the film set over here and it's curved side up. If you remember our discussion to film, almost all film has its natural curve to it, because the emulsion side which is on the concave upside, when it dries, it kind of puts a little bit of natural curl in that film. That's the one you want to protect.

And I am actually putting this down on a piece of bounty, which is fine but it's got to be plastic side down, not emulsion side down. So we are going to arrange all the pieces here in the order in which we are going to construct them. So the glass plate goes on the bottom, that forms the bottom of the sandwich, then the meat of the sandwich is the actual film, and then we have our first plastic overlay which is piece of optical plastic, nice and clear. And then we have a second overlay that we are going to use for the throw-away if you will, or the part that we are going to use for flattening out the film, but we are not going to keep it on there for the final sandwich.

Okay, so those are all the pieces to the pie, and let's go ahead and construct our sandwich here. All right, we begin by taking the fluid and moving everything into place, I put them about half-an-inch or an inch apart so they are easy to get at, and then take the optical fluid and we are going to just spray it right on that glass plate that goes on the bottom. And don't be afraid for being generous. It's fine, it's better to have a little bit too much than not enough and we are also going to spray it on the piece of film, remember that this has emulsion side up.

It's very important, and then we are going to spray it on the first overlay that we are going to put down. Next we are going to construct the sandwich, and to do that we're going to use the tweezers to pick up this edge, just the edge like this, then use your other hand to grab the edges of the film and then we are going to rotate the film over, and this is important, you can actually put the film down either way, but my experience is that it's best to always put the emulsion down on the glass itself. With some scanners, if you do it this way, you have to end up inverting the image in Photoshop after the scan, but that's okay.

You will end up with a better contact and a better light path if you put the emulsion side down. And when you put it down like I have done here, if you do it progressively so that one end to the other rather than just dropping it all the way down there, you are more likely to get the air bubbles out of there, you may not get involved but you at least reduce the number of them. Okay, so now we've got the bottom of the sandwich, we've got the meat with the film in the middle and then we just need to put down the next piece which is our plastic overlay, make sure that there is a plenty of fluid on there, there we go, there we go.

And you will notice what I am using throughout this entire process, these lint-free gloves, always, always, throughout the entire process, never have your lint-free gloves off. There we go, we've created our sandwich. Now what we need to do is make sure we get all those air bubbles out of there. In order to do that, this is what we are going to use our second overlay.

Spray plenty of fluid on there and then flip it over and put it on top, there we go, this is called the Sacrificial Overlay because we don't actually use it in the final sandwich, there we go, and then just spray a little more luminal fluid, mounting fluid on top, and now we to go our squeegee. Now with hand I am using my left hand here, I am going to hold the left side of the sandwich, just on the edge of the film there and then let's move everything over into the middle, there we go, and then we are going to take the squeegee, start in the middle and move out to the edges like this, don't start it on one end and drag it all the way across because you are likely to have some air bubbles in the far end and trying to get them all the way across is just not going to happen.

So you don't have to press too hard, you get a feel for it after a while, all right, and then swap ends. If you are not ambidextrous enough to swap ends you can always rotate this so you can move to the other side of the table, there we go. And throughout this entire process from beginning to end, I am always worrying about dust, I cleaned everything off from the beginning to the end, and of course I am talking throughout this process, aren't I? Bad idea.

Notice I am leaning over all this and while I am talking spit is constantly, and this is small I know, but it's enough that you can damage this whole process if it gets on the film. You know and the other thing that you might consider particularly you've got long hair there is a sense of leaning over this film all the time, when you lean over, you are not aware of it, but debris, little tiny debris is constantly falling off your head, you don't realize but then you see it on the film. So having a hair in it, if you do this very much and particularly if you have long hair, good idea to silence and wear your hair-net when you do this.

Then we will go to our razor to help pick us up and there we've got our sandwich. Now at this point we are going to move our sandwich over here and we are going to take a look at it over our light table. All right, what I am looking for is air bubbles. And this one looks good, some days I am just better than others, all right. And if it don't quite get all the air bubbles out, you can put it back and run the squeegee again. All right, this time we've got it right. And then of course we are going to want to take that, we get done with the squeegee, you want to take that top layer of the sacrificial overlay off, so we just have the sandwich itself.

Now the process is just kind of little bit of drying out and cleaning up and this is when we can use little cotton swabs to help us dry the edges. All right, the scanning solution is fairly volatile, so it's going to evaporate pretty quickly, which is what you want to happen. So I can just take the cotton swabs along the edges, and it will take about ten minutes or so, depending upon the atmospheric temperature and moisture, all right, for it to dry out. And if you want to, want to speed things up a little bit, first we can take our sandwich over to here and use our hairdryer, and this is a perfect hairdryer for this.

It's a Revlon 1875, and it's got a low setting which is what, what you want and then it's got a Hot, a Warm, and a Cool. Put this on Cool. Hot and Warm is not good, you don't want to even go with the Warm you want to go with the Cool setting and just very light, and don't put it right up close to it, keep it back at a distance, just that air circulating passed it like that. It will dry in a real hurry, no problem. And again 10 or 15 minutes and if you've got a large enough space, you can have two or three of these going at a time, you can let one dry and you can get another one going if you want to, okay.

And then after the drying occurs, then we are going to be ready to take our sandwich, our wet sandwich and put it inside when one of the mounts that we are going to be using. Now after you create your sandwich, you've got about, probably about two hours of shelf time that you can use for that sandwich, after about two hours the edges start to dry out too much and as the fluid kind of evaporates in the edges and spreads out and you may not end up with a complete fluid sandwich around the edges.

But you've got about two hours of time. So my suggestion is, make sure you don't mount this until you are really ready to scan it. Don't mount it and then go to lunch and forget and did you get your sandwich ready to scan there. All right, so after this sandwich is dried out, now you're ready to put it inside of your mount for your scanner, and you'll notice that in this particular case I'm using a film- holder and this just fits right inside the film-holder and these last plates are designed to be at exact length to go inside the standard film-holder.

Couple of things I want to say about various kinds of scanners that you could work with. You can do this fluid mounting system with a flatbed scanner or with a dedicated film scanner. But if you are going to do much of this I really recommend you do it with a dedicated film scanner. Here is the reason, most of the dedicated film scanners have automatic focus and obviously since we've put the film in the sandwich, it's at a little bit different focal plane and an automatic focus of scanner will automatically adjust for that. A lot of the flatbed scanners are single focus or may be dual focus and sometimes you have to shim the entire sandwich to get ready in the proper focal plane.

So you can do it with the flatbed scanner, but if you do much of it, you can have a much easier time, much more efficient workflow just working with the dedicated film scanner, there is no doubt about it. Remember earlier we talked about the flatbed scanners are really made for reflective scanning and everything else is kind of an add-on. Well it applies here as well. so nice dedicated film scanner will work great. Oh, by the way I should mention that in this particular scanner and this is true for all other film scanners, sometimes when you have the closing top like this, after you put it in this sandwich, like this sometimes you can close these tops sometimes you can't, in this particular case with the Plustek you actually have to take this top off before you can put it in.

All right, so if you refer to the scan book that you have, the PDF version, it's got lots of details about working with various kinds of scanners and how to handle them for the fine-tuning process of actually putting them inside the scanner. So it's going to depend upon the scanner that you have. Are you going to do this for every single image that you have? Probably not, you are going to do it for the highest quality ones, the artwork that you had a picture of, that you want to get the best quality scan in order to reproduce that. The ones where you want to have the best focus, the best detail, the best saturation, superior sharpness, improved contrast and that expanded dynamic range.

Well there is the wet scanning technique.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Scanning Techniques for Photography, Art, and Design
Scanning Techniques for Photography, Art, and Design

58 video lessons · 8205 viewers

Taz Tally

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  1. 6m 48s
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      3m 54s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 43s
  2. 1h 0m
    1. Scanners and digital cameras
      3m 6s
    2. Types of scanners
      5m 2s
    3. Scanner location
      3m 19s
    4. What scanners and digital cameras create
      7m 22s
    5. Understanding grayscale values and channels
      3m 19s
    6. Understanding pixels and vectors
      4m 1s
    7. Choosing pixels or vectors
      2m 27s
    8. Resolving resolution
      6m 32s
    9. Working with interpolation
      3m 31s
    10. Understanding the effects of compression
      2m 4s
    11. Evaluating and correcting images with histograms
      8m 26s
    12. Saving to different file formats
      7m 4s
    13. Color management
      4m 23s
  3. 33m 22s
    1. Cleaning your scanner
      7m 31s
    2. Cleaning your images
      7m 47s
    3. Calibrating your scanner
      9m 13s
    4. Creating and applying a color management profile
      8m 51s
  4. 20m 55s
    1. Evaluating your scan challenges
      9m 46s
    2. Reproducing vs. assigning colors
      6m 20s
    3. Recognizing continuous tone (contone) vs. dot pattern images
      4m 49s
  5. 36m 32s
    1. Understanding bit depth
      8m 49s
    2. Selecting a scan mode
      8m 20s
    3. Sharpening and its effects
      10m 40s
    4. Creating and assigning color management profiles
      8m 43s
  6. 2h 25m
    1. Taking the Tazmanian Oath!
      3m 38s
    2. Choosing your weapon
      4m 2s
    3. Setting up your scanning preferences
      12m 14s
    4. Performing a prescan
      2m 53s
    5. Assigning a scan frame
      5m 40s
    6. Determining scan resolution
      7m 57s
    7. Choosing a scan mode and bit depth
      5m 53s
    8. Naming images
      1m 49s
    9. Scanning simple logos and line art
      12m 21s
    10. Scanning complex line art
      7m 33s
    11. Scanning grayscale contones
      13m 22s
    12. Scanning color contones
      13m 54s
    13. Sharpening
      9m 39s
    14. Scanning printed/screened or patterned images
      7m 1s
    15. Scanning positive transparency film
      12m 33s
    16. Scanning negative transparency film
      9m 11s
    17. Capturing high dynamic range (HDR) scans
      1m 47s
    18. Setting up wet scans
      14m 29s
  7. 1h 48m
    1. Scanning, converting, and using simple line art
      5m 32s
    2. Scanning and using detailed line art
      10m 52s
    3. Scanning landscapes
      15m 50s
    4. Scanning product shots
      11m 58s
    5. Scanning combo/complex images
      9m 3s
    6. Adjusting distressed images
      11m 12s
    7. Scanning images with no neutrals
      11m 57s
    8. Post-scan touch-ups
      2m 7s
    9. Scanning images for multiple uses
      10m 44s
    10. Automatic scanning
      10m 40s
    11. Streamlining big jobs with batch scanning
      5m 22s
    12. Using your manufacturer's scanning software
      3m 14s
  8. 27s
    1. Goodbye

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