Scanning with SilverFast
Illustration by John Hersey

Scanning a color photo as a grayscale image


Scanning with SilverFast

with Taz Tally

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Video: Scanning a color photo as a grayscale image

In this video, I'd like to show you how to take a continuous tone color image, and convert it into a grayscale image, using the automatic scan tools in SilverFast. But before we actually go there, let's talk a little about our challenges and goals. First, what we are looking at here is the manual interface for SilverFast, which is the default interface when you launch SilverFast. And over in the right-hand side, we see a prescanned image that I've already created, so we could talk about the challenges of the image. In a previous movie, we scanned this for the color aspects of it. In this case, what we want to do is we want to scan this to bring out good contrast, in terms of just the grayscale of this image.
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  1. 5m 19s
    1. Welcome
    2. What you should know before watching this course
    3. Taking the Tazmanian Oath
      3m 38s
  2. 19m 14s
    1. Launching SilverFast
      4m 2s
    2. Touring the SilverFast interface
      3m 35s
    3. Understanding SilverFast's scanning workflows
      4m 28s
    4. Using automated vs. manual scanning
      4m 31s
    5. Getting help as you use SilverFast
      2m 38s
  3. 32m 46s
    1. Touring the SilverFast 8 automatic scanning tools
      6m 7s
    2. Preparing for automatic scanning
      4m 6s
    3. Arranging your workspace
      4m 23s
    4. Setting up color management
      4m 43s
    5. Setting scan frame and resolution
      3m 55s
    6. Adjusting, naming, formatting, and locating an image
      8m 24s
    7. Previewing scan settings with the info tool
      1m 8s
  4. 1h 7m
    1. Scanning simple line art
      8m 7s
    2. Scanning detailed line art
      8m 9s
    3. Scanning grayscale photos
      11m 43s
    4. Scanning color photos
      11m 17s
    5. Scanning a color photo as a grayscale image
      12m 15s
    6. Scanning a positive piece of film
      6m 53s
    7. Scanning a negative piece of film
      8m 39s
  5. 26m 1s
    1. Touring the manual scanning tools
      7m 19s
    2. Setting preferences for manual scanning
      10m 0s
    3. Calibrating your scanner
      3m 40s
    4. Arranging your workspace
      5m 2s
  6. 1h 35m
    1. Scanning simple line art and changing it into vectors
      7m 38s
    2. Scanning simple line art and keeping it as pixels
      5m 42s
    3. Scanning detailed line art
      8m 18s
    4. Scanning grayscale photos
      14m 5s
    5. Scanning landscape color photos
      15m 51s
    6. Scanning color portrait photos
      13m 56s
    7. Scanning color product shots
      9m 29s
    8. Scanning a color photo as a grayscale image
      4m 31s
    9. Scanning a piece of positive color film
      5m 52s
    10. Scanning a piece of negative color film
      9m 56s
  7. 1h 0m
    1. Should I use SilverFast or Photoshop?
      4m 9s
    2. Making global color corrections
      4m 37s
    3. Bringing out shadow details
      4m 28s
    4. Making a selective color replacement
      3m 21s
    5. Sharpening in SilverFast
      7m 15s
    6. Working with target-based corrections
      4m 55s
    7. Color correcting with neutrals
      10m 19s
    8. Exploring automatic color correction in manual mode
      3m 35s
    9. Scanning a printed image
      5m 49s
    10. High-bit-depth and HDR scanning
      5m 29s
    11. Removing noise and patterns
      3m 32s
    12. Removing dust and scratches
      3m 30s
  8. 7m 3s
    1. Batch scanning images
      1m 29s
    2. Using the JobManager
      4m 16s
    3. Exploring SilverFast 8 shortcuts and tips
      1m 18s
  9. 1m 29s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 29s

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Watch the Online Video Course Scanning with SilverFast
5h 15m Appropriate for all Mar 23, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, photographer and scanning expert Taz Tally describes how to use the LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast software to scan photos, line art, film negatives, and other printed documents, while getting the highest quality scans possible from your scanner. The course begins with an overview of SilverFast, then takes a task-oriented look at the SilverFast automatic and manual scanning modes, showing numerous scanning projects from start to finish. The course also explores a variety of specialized scanning topics, such as removing color casts and scratches, High Dynamic Range (HDR) scanning, and wet scanning.

Topics include:
  • Arranging your workspace
  • Setting up color management
  • Setting scan frame and resolution
  • Calibrating the scanner
  • Performing grayscale and color automatic scans
  • Performing a negative color film scan
  • Scanning simple line art and changing it into vectors
  • Scanning photos
  • Making global color corrections to a scan
  • Sharpening
  • Removing noise, dust, and scratches
  • Batch scanning
Taz Tally

Scanning a color photo as a grayscale image

In this video, I'd like to show you how to take a continuous tone color image, and convert it into a grayscale image, using the automatic scan tools in SilverFast. But before we actually go there, let's talk a little about our challenges and goals. First, what we are looking at here is the manual interface for SilverFast, which is the default interface when you launch SilverFast. And over in the right-hand side, we see a prescanned image that I've already created, so we could talk about the challenges of the image. In a previous movie, we scanned this for the color aspects of it. In this case, what we want to do is we want to scan this to bring out good contrast, in terms of just the grayscale of this image.

We have many of the same challenges and goals that we do with any other continuous tone image. We want to first make sure that the diffused highlights in the image, such as the white Santa hat, is nice, and bright, and white, but still shows detail; not too bright white, so that we lose detail. We also look for specular highlights, such as the reflection off the glasses that you see here. Those are okay to be blown out, and we don't worry about those, but the diffused highlight; we want that to be bright white, and we want it to have detail. We look for critical shadow areas of the image. Here, not so much.

Maybe we've got some fabric back here that we want to make sure we don't fill in the shadow details, but this image is all about the white highlight, and of course, the skin tone. So, the same issues of reproducing grayscale value, but in this image, like in a lot of color images, various portions of the image -- like this, the white frill, and then the rest of the Santa hat in the background -- are really distinguished visually by their colors, not so much by their tonal gradations, or differences in tone. When we convert an image to grayscale, we want to make sure that the various aspects of the image are separated from each other by adjusting their tonal gradations.

So we may end up actually altering the original tones in the image, so that we end up with better contrast between areas. All right! So there are our overall goals and challenges for working with a color image to convert to grayscale. Now, just like any other scan, we're assuming that you've cleaned your image, that you've cleaned your scanner, that you're working with your cotton gloves, so that we keep everything nice and clean. So let's just dive right in. Let's go up and activate the automatic workflow by clicking on the WorkflowPilot. And once again, we always work from left to right in the automatic WorkflowPilot, and we answer some basic questions.

What's the Source, or input file? And it's a Photo. And then we ask, what's the Task for output? And if you've watched any of the other videos, you know there are lots and lots of built-in tasks. We can scan directly for Full HD, or HD ready, or for Standard TV. We can do specific fixes, such as images that are darker, or lighter, or we want to make sure we protect highlights, and shadow details. By the way, we can do all of these things just by manually adjusting tools, which I recommend you consider working in manual mode, which we'll cover later on in the course.

But as we've done in the past, what I want to do is show you how to create a good fundamental image that you can take in a lot of different directions. If you choose to do a specific type of scan here, such as Descreen, you can do that right from this interface, but we're going to start with Print, because this is going to give us a very high quality output file that we can then convert for other purposes or uses. Now remember, our goal here is to convert from color to grayscale, so what we are going to do is, instead of using the 48 Bit to 24 Bit, we are going to choose 16 Bit capture to 8 Bit capture.

And once again, I'll refer you to some of my other scanning videos that have some fundamental sections in them that address the background information for all of these technical issues, such as bit depth. All right! So after we set these three fundamental characteristics, we're ready to get started. We click the Start button. That automatically performs a prescan of the color image that we have on our scan bed. Now, notice that because we've chosen Grayscale mode, SilverFast automatically displays this as a grayscale image on screen. It's really colored to begin with, so it's doing an automatic conversion to grayscale, because we've chosen that mode.

And what we are going to do is see if we can enhance that default version. But the next step is to set our scan frame, as we've done in a lot of the other videos, and as I've mentioned in previous movies, one of the nice things about working in the Print mode here is we can choose a preset, like a 5 by 7 inch preset, click on the Fix scan frame, and then it maintains the proportion as you resize. Notice how the color comes out in the background as we move the scan frame away from it, reminding you that we're really starting with a color image. Nnd then set the upper left-hand corner, and then go to the lower right-hand corner, and because we're maintaining proportion, it's very easy to fit those two together, because the original here was, indeed, a 5 by 7 image.

And we are going to remember to set the resolution. And in Print mode, we have two qualities: Draft, which is for low resolution viewing, or low resolution desktop printing; and then Photo quality, which is what we are going to do. And the basic concept here is you capture and create the highest quality image that you can, and then you can make copies of that, and downsize, downsample, change the format, but you always start with the highest quality image. And notice that if you had a landscape image, you could click on Landscape, rather than Portrait. And you'll notice that you can see the file size that you'll be creating; this is going to be a 3 megabyte file.

So there is a fair amount of information right here. All right! So we are all set to move forward, so let's click the Continue button, and notice that when we're working in the automatic scan mode, and we choose the Print task, there is an automatic adjustment tool, and that automatically adjusts the highlights, the shadows, and the overall brightness, and contrast. And we get to review that by looking at the histogram, and the gradation tool. And we can click on them directly right over here, as you see, or you can just stepwise go through the WorkflowPilot by clicking Continue, and it automatically takes you to the Histogram.

And you can see the adjustment that's been made here in the highlights, and the shadows, and those are the two critical things that we're adjusting here. Remember, in this image, we decided that this was a critical diffused white highlight area in the fur of the hat. How these adjustments are made in the automatic mode are set in the Preferences, in the Highlight, and Shadow, which I think we set at 5% and 95% in the Preferences earlier this course. You can make adjustments here on highlights, and shadows, and midtone adjustments, although I'd strongly recommend that you really, if you want to make those kinds of adjustments, we learn how to do it more quantitatively by working through the manual mode covered later in this course.

Now let's step forward to our gradation tool. And we can see that by evaluating our image, what SilverFast has done is not only set our highlights and shadows, but it's also lowered the overall brightness of the image. See how this curve has just moved down a little bit from the midpoint? And we could make adjustments here, based upon the actual quality, and content, and characteristics of the image. So if we, overall, wanted to lighten this image a little bit, which I might very well do working in Grayscale mode, I will do that. So I may lighten it by the same amount that the SilverFast software has actually darkened it.

Worked very well in color, but in grayscale, sometimes we like to go a little bit lighter. And Contrast, now this is a going to be totally based upon the characteristics of the image. If it's a product shot, or something with a lot of high contrast, edges, and sharpness to it, well then very often, we like to increase contrast; that's moving the Contrast slider over to the right. Notice how when we create an S shaped curve, that lightens the quarter tone, and darkens the three-quarter tone, we get a higher contrast image. This is not particularly desirable for most portrait images. So the way we are going to do that is we are going to lower the Contrast, just a little bit; not too much.

We don't want to go way overboard, like this, and make it look really flat; bad idea. What we want to do is just a little bit of softening of the image; just a little bit, so you get a nice soft skin tone in there. Cool! So we can do a little bit of a semi-manual adjustment, just to fine-tune, based upon the characteristics of the image. And that is the order in which you will always want to work when you're scanning continuous tone images. Highlight and Shadow, with the Histogram or Levels, and then brightness by adjusting the midtone of the curve, and then you adjust Contrast by adjusting position of the quarter tone, and the three-quarter tone. Good! Now, that's not a bad looking image.

We could just cruise right through to the end if we wanted to, but there is another really nice tool here, and it's called the Selective Color to Grayscale tool. Now, what this allows us to do is take the various color portions of the image, and push those one way or another; make them lighter or darker. For instance, let's take the Red slider here, and notice when we move the Red slider way up to lighter, see how all the red areas in the image; the hat, and the skin tone just get all blown out? So we can darken that a little bit, or we can overall lighten it, or we can just leave it the way it is if we wanted to. Notice the yellow; notice the upper right-hand corner of the image? We can create a little bit more contrast in this image by maybe lightening that just a little bit.

Let's go to the blue portions of the image, and notice how the blue background -- what I am going to do is just darken that blue to create a little bit more contrast between the light highlight, and then this dark shadow area back here. So the point is that we can look at the individual colors, remembering the colors that we have in the image, and we can fine tune the overall contrast creating a much more dynamic grayscale image. Let's continue on then, and then we'll go to the GANE tool, and this is the Grain and Noise Elimination tool, and what I recommend for automatic mode is to just use the automatic settings that SilverFast gives you.

If you want to get into manually manipulating these kinds of tools, we are going to do that in the manual section of the class. And same thing for Unsharp Mask. This is one of those tools that we really want to apply to most images, because when we scan images, or capture them with a digital camera, it softens the images just by default; we can't help it, so we want to apply Unsharp Mask. The question is always, where do we apply it? Do we do it during the scan? Do we do it in Photoshop? Well, here is the rule I want to kind of give you, and it's really a rule of thumb. It's not a hard and fast rule, but if you are working in automatic mode, and you are creating an image for print, go ahead and just apply the Unsharp Mask, and these values that it uses as default values are really good starting values for sharpening your image.

We are going to assume that this image is just kind of go right to print, so we are going to let SilverFast do all of the work. If you intend to do a lot more work in Photoshop, or you want to do some more adjustments somewhere else later, after the scan, then we are going to want to wait to apply the sharpening until after we're done image-editing. But if you are going to go that route, I strongly recommend you do the manual version of the scanning portions of this SilverFast, which we are going to cover later on in this course. So we are going to apply the Unsharp Mask, and by the way, if you're curious about the details of what these values mean, we'll cover them a little bit more in the manual portion of this class, but a lot more background information you will find in the fundamentals of my other scanning courses.

And so we are going to move on, and click Continue, and then we're just going to name our file. And I like to use a logical name, Tina, and then the mode, grayscale, and then the resolution at which we captured this image: 300. And as I've told you before, if you've looked to some of the other videos, when I save my images, I like to save them in a very high-quality, uncompressed format. I use either TIFF, or .psd. So we are going to go with TIFF. And then finally, we'll set the path. We'll determine where the scanner is going to place the file by clicking on this folder, and we are go right into the Scanned Images folder on my Desktop, and we'll choose, and then we're ready to scan this image. So I am going to click Continue, and that initiates the scan, and we can follow the scan process down here in the Scanner status dialog box.

And if your scanner hasn't been used for a little bit -- maybe half an hour or something -- it may have to warm up. But you can see when your scanner is not responsive if it's dead, or if it's warming up; it will tell you that. Then once the scan is complete, you can just click on this image Open button right down here, and then SilverFast is going to use the application that you've assigned to open up individual files. In this case, I've assigned Photoshop to open up and look at TIFFs. And our goal was -- at the beginning of capturing this image -- was to make sure we had nice bright white highlights, but we wanted to make sure that we maintained detail, and you can see nice detail in the highlights.

The specular highlight is nice and bright. It's blown out; it's fine. We have a nice soft skin tone, we've lowered the contrast, and yet we've got good contrast across the image, because remember, we took and made this blue area back here very dark as a nice contrast. And we have a nice gradational eye line here from highlight, to midtone, to shadow, which creates a nice asymmetric tonal swash across the image. So we've done a nice job of capturing our image, and just to show you, when we go to Image Size, we've captured it at 300 pixels per inch, like we said we were going to do. So there is working in automatic mode, and converting a color image to grayscale in SilverFast.

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