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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.
In this video, I'd like to show you how to accomplish a continuous tone color scan, using the automatic scanning interface in SilverFast. But before we go there, let's talk for a few minutes about what some of our challenges and goals are in capturing a continuous tone color image. Here, inside this red frame, inside the manual mode, which is the default mode that you are entered into when you launch SilverFast, we see a picture of my GF, Christina, and this image has a lot of characteristics of images that we typically work with when we scan continuous tone images, particularly of people.
One of the key aspects with any continuous tone image is getting the tonal values correct. And color images are very much like grayscale images; it's just that they have multiple channels of grayscale in them. The whole issue about capturing continuous tone images is, if we get the grayscale of the tonal values right, the color is going to be right. When we look at this image, we see some critical areas, and this is one of the things we always do when we scan continuous tone images. We say, what are the critical areas in this image? And two areas we almost always look for are critical highlight areas, and critical shadow areas, and the highlight areas in the image, and the diffused highlights; we want them to have detail.
And there are two kind of highlights: there's diffused highlights, like the white in the hat, where we definitely want to have detail, and then there is something called specular highlights, like the reflection off the glasses here; those we don't mind if they are blown out. But we want to make sure the diffused areas, like the white fur in the hat, has detail. It looks nice and bright white, but not so white that we lose the detail. Now, in a continuous tone image like this, where it's a portrait of person, the other thing we want to make sure of is that the skin tone looks nice and healthy. That means enough red, but not too much red, and of course, overall brightness and contrast; we want to make sure those are addressed as well.
So we're going to focus on those key issues as we move through the scanning process in automatic scan mode. So let's just dive right in. Oh, and by the way, I should mention that I'm making the assumption that you've cleaned your scanner, and you're working with a good, clean image. All right. So to get to the automatic scan mode, we go through the WorkflowPilot, and we access that by clicking the upper left- hand corner, which is the red sphere up here, and that takes us right to the automatic scan mode. We almost always work this from left to right, and we start this by choosing an input Source, and an output Task.
That is, what kind of image was our original? Well, it's a photograph. Could be a print -- a previously printed image -- but it's not. It's a photo, so we choose photo. And then we are going to choose an output Task; what are we going to use this for? Well, as you can see, there are lots of different tasks here, and for instance, if you knew right away that you had some repair that you needed to do: it was a dark photo, or there was a lot of color cast, or you knew there was lots of dust and scratches, you can choose some of these preset modes. Or if you knew you we're going to use it in a presentation, you could choose Presentation. It's got special resolutions for Presentation mode output devices.
But what we are going to do here is I want to step you through creating a good fundamental continuous tone scan of a color image. The set of tools that really gives us the best overall approach to creating a good quality basic scan is the Print Task output. So we are going to choose Photo, and Print, and then the next thing we do is choose what kind of mode is it; is it a Color mode, or is it a Grayscale mode? Well, it's a Color mode, and that's the default here, so we are going to go to Color mode, and SilverFast will capture in 48 Bit, and, say, about in 24 Bit. If you want to know more about bit depth, and grayscale values, I would refer you to my scanning classes that have fundamental sections in them. All right! So we are ready to go ahead and start the scanning process.
Let's go ahead and click on Start, and what that does is it initiates a low resolution overview, or prescan. And then our next step, once we can see the image, is we want to adjust this red scan frame. And by using that, we are going to tell the software in the scanner what we actually want to capture. We don't need to capture the entire scan bed. Well, one of the nice things about working in Print mode is it has this feature called Fix scan frame. If we start it with a 5 by 7 image, like this one is, for instance, to make our life easier, we could just choose 5 by 7, and then fix to scan frame.
And then as I adjust the scan frame, I always start in the upper left-hand corner, and I set that first, and then we just put that in the upper left-hand corner like this, and then we just go down the lower right-hand corner, and you see how the proportion is maintained? It makes it very, very easy. And what's nice about this is that very often we have images that we scan that are different dimensions than what we want to print, and by using this fix to scan frame, it allows us to preset the dimensions, so we know exactly what's going to print, and what's not, even before we scan the image, so it's a very handy feature.
So we've set our scan frame. Now we want to make sure that we set our resolution as well. And this gives us two choices here; a Draft mode, which is 150, which would be fine for creating images for the Web, that we can downsample to 72. But what we really want to do is create an image that can be used on a lot of different output devices. So we are going to capture for our highest quality device, and that's going to be the photo quality, which is 300 pixels per inch at 5 by 7.All right! So there we go; we are all set. We've got our format, we've got our preset, and we are going to move on; we are going to click Continue.
And notice that because this is an automatic scanning mode, there is an automatic adjustment that's applied to our image. And then, as we move through some of these other tools, we are going to see what that basic adjustment was. And basically what SilverFast does is it applies a histogram, and a gradation adjustment to the image. Let's go take a look. Let's click on Continue, and it shows us the histogram, and what SilverFast does is it sets the Highlight and the Shadow. That's one of the most important things that it does. And remember, we talked about having a nice diffused highlight, that has detail in it, and if there is an important shadow region, say back here on a cloth or something -- although there is not a really an important shadow in this image; it's all about the highlight in the skin tone -- but SilverFast is going to set that automatically, and it uses the Highlight and Shadow values that we set in the preferences, that we set earlier on in this course, at 5% and 95%.
Now, you could make adjustments here, but I don't recommend it, unless you're really working in manual mode, where we can do some quantitative adjustments. More on that later in the manual sections of this course. So you can see what was done here, and let's continue on to Gradation. And in this particular case, when SilverFast looked at our image, it kind of looked at it and went, you know, it was overall a little bit light, so what it did is it darkened it just a little bit. You see, because this is normally a linear line going right down the middle at 45 degrees; you can see the midtone has been darkened just a little bit.
And we can adjust this midtone, which is overall brightness control. And then we are going to adjust Contrast. Just a quick terminology note here; if you're unfamiliar with the word Histogram or Gradation, but you are used to working in Photoshop, that's the same as Levels and Curves. Different name for exactly the same tools; they do the same thing. Okay, so if we want to adjust overall brightness, we can take this Midtone slider here, and if move it right back to the middle, we can see what the original image looked like before the correction. And you can watch right over here at the adjustment, and then I think it brought it down to about minus five; minus six.
And see, it took out a little bit of that overall brightness, which is a good call on this image; it did very well. Now, very often, I will maybe just fine-tune the brightness a little bit, but with images like this, particularly portraits, where there is lots of skin tone, I do pay attention to contrast. SilverFast is good, but it can't look at this and say, oh, that's a portrait of Christina, therefore we want to lower the contrast just a little bit. Watch what happens when I take this Contrast curve, and I pull it to the right, and notice what happens in the curve is the quarter tone gets lighter, the three-quarter tone gets darker, so that the overall contrast to the image increases. Lighter lights, darker darks, and notice the contrast of the image is increased.
Now let's move it the other direction, past zero, and just flatten it out just a little bit, like minus five. Do you see how much softer it is on the skin tone? If it's a product shot, I am going to increase contrast, like that, but if it's a portrait, I am going to decrease contrast; minus five, minus six, and just a very little bit goes a long way. A very subtle adjustment. We tend to flatten it out in the midtone just a little bit; it gives an overall softness to the skin tone. Believe me, if it's your girlfriend's photo, you don't want to be creating a high contrast picture where those blemishes are going to show up. So on we go.
Then we can have some selective color correction. We are going to do a lot more with this later on in the manual section of the course, but one thing I can show you here is down here at the bottom; a little fine-tune adjustment. Let's say that your image was overall a little bit too red, and that's very common in some portrait images. With this Color Saturation slider, notice, we can make it really red, as you can see there, or we can back off on the saturation just a little but. This is a very common adjustment on a lot of images that tend to be too red. We can take it all the way to the left to make it a grayscale image if we wanted to completely desaturate it, but I might just take out just a little bit of the red. Or if we wanted to add just a little bit more to add the warmth a little bit, overall, the color of this image is actually pretty good in the skin tones. We'll just take it down a little bit.
Again, a little bit of semi- manual fine-tuning if we want to. Then one of the tools that's been selected -- and remember, the tools that you see up here are all a function of this Source, and the Task that you set here. SilverFast will automatically look for grain, and noise in your image, and remove it if it's there, and we'll talk about how to fine-tune some of those adjustments in the manual section of this course later on. So we are just going to take the automatic adjustments. And Unsharp Mask; same thing. We are assuming, here, that we're creating a final image for print, and just like any other digital image that has been captured with a scanner, or a digital camera, it softens the image, and we want to replace some of that original sharpness in the image.
And these default values of 100, 1, and 1 are good starting values for just about any standard high-quality image. All right! So we are going to let SilverFast do it's magic with the GANE, and the Unsharp Mask. Later on in the manual section, we'll talk about when and where you want to apply the Unsharp Mask, because sometimes you want to wait until you get into Photoshop. But if you are going to be making those kinds of adjustments and decisions, you really need to be working in manual mode. All right, and last stop is this dialog box, where we set the name of the file. And I always like to use a logical name, and then I like to put the scan mode, which is RGB, and then I like to put the resolution as 300.
And see, this way I can tell an awful lot about the content of that image, and it's formatting, just by looking at the name. And then we're going to choose a file format; we've got multiple formats here. I recommend saving it out as either a TIFF, or .psd. Then we'll locate where we want the scan to go by clicking on our folder there, and you can choose where on your computer you want the file to go. And then we're ready to go ahead and scan. So we'll click Continue. And then, using all of the settings that we've applied here, SilverFast will scan your image, adjust it, and then save it into the location where we've asked it to.
And it didn't take too long in that case; it was only a 5 by 7 image, at 300. And then you can actually open the image by moving to your Scanner status dialog down here, and then just click on the Open image button here, and then SilverFast will open that image in whatever application your operating system is set to open; in this case TIFF files. And obviously, if you saved it as a .psd, it's going to open up in Photoshop anyway. So there we go! There is our nice high-quality scan of my GF, with nice, beautiful, white highlights in the Santa hat, and a nice rosy skin tone, but not too red; nice brightness and contrast.
So there's scanning continuous tone color images in SilverFast, using automatic mode.
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