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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 manually scan a color landscape image. Let's start with a little bit of evaluation of our image first. When we look at an image like this, we look at a landscape image, what are the challenges? Well, if we've got a white highlight, we absolutely want to get correct. Like many landscape images shot in bright sunshine, they have an overall blue color cast in them and you can even see that just looking at the image. This is very common. We have got a neutral white highlight in the foam here and the spray somewhere. So that's going to be a critical part of this image and I always, whenever I do any image editing, I always look and ask myself; what is the most critical part of this image? Well, getting this white spray foam correct is going to be a key emphasis for us.
Shadow detail is less important in this image, but I suspect looking at this, we have got shadow detail probably down in here somewhere, where we want to maintain it. But in this case, we probably don't want to neutralize that, we want the light water to be white, the shadow, we want to maintain detail, but not necessarily neutralize it. The rest of the image, we want to make sure we've got good saturation as much as possible, and of course, overall we want to make sure we get good sharpness and good contrast. All right! So those are the main challenges for this particular image.
Before we go any further though, I want to return to something that we set way back when we talked about Preferences, because I want to remind you about this. Underneath the Automatic setting, if you are going to use that Automatic Correction tool, know what it's going to do. It's going to set a 5 and 95% highlight in shadow. It's going to try to remove all the color cast that it can. It's going to lighten the darker portion of the image 30% and darken the lighter portion of the image by 30%. That's the quarter-tone and three-quarter tone. But no Auto Contrast, just to remind you how we set that up.
So, first thing we want to do is find the highlight and the shadow areas of our image and like we did before, we are going to use our Densitometer to help us do that. We are going to click here to see where the highlight point is, and now the highlight comes out in the image. Secondly, we will look for the shadow and notice we get the shadow right down there in the mid-right portion of the image. Those are two good critical areas that I'd like to go ahead and set sampler points. So I am going to click right there on the highlight sampler point, and then click there on the shadow sampler point.
Now, look at the RGB values. Notice that in this image, we actually have three different grayscale values that we are looking at; the Red, the Green, and the Blue and they really are grayscale values. What we are actually looking at here is three grayscale channels; one for Red, one for Green, one for Blue. If you want to know more about that, I want to refer you to the other scanning course which has a fundamental section in it, which goes into what you're actually working with here and that's grayscale values. So, the point is that if you get the grayscale values correct, then the color is going to be correct.
If you have a neutral portion of your image, and neutral means it's going to be grey, anywhere from pure white to pure black and anything in between means the RGB value should be equal. Well, if we want this white water to be white, it means the RGB value should indeed be equal. And when we look here, we see that the Blue is 216, Green is 209, and the Red is 207. Now remember, the K value is the overall tonal percentage of 17, but what we are really looking at is the Red, Green, and Blue values, and it goes from a scale of 0 for pure black to 255 for pure white.
What we are looking at here is 216, 209, 207. Well, we see two things here; one is they are not equal. The white foam is coming up with a pretty strong blue color cast. So that's the first thing is we want to neutralize those. The second thing that we see is that those values are too dark. They're in the low 200s. What we are looking for is 5% white highlight which is going to be around the low 240s; 242, 242, 242. We need to lighten that, so we get a nice bright white neutral diffuse highlight.
Okay. Just a quick analysis of the shadow area; does the shadow have to be neutral? No, it doesn't. For two reasons. One is the human eye is far more sensitive to our color balance, in the lighter portions of the image like the white highlight. It's far less sensitive to that color balance in shadow regions. That's number one. Number two is this is the shadow portion of the image, but the water probably has a little bit of blue-green color to it, and that's okay. And the spray, we want it to be white, but the rest of the color, we'd like it to be a natural color of the water.
So we are not concerned so much about the color balance here, that is, the ratio of Red to Green to Blue, but what we might like to see is have it a little bit darker, because here, it's in the high 20s, low 30s. We might want to move this down between 15 and 20 which gets it in the range of 90 to 95% for shadow. And by doing that, we are going to improve the overall contrast of the image, while at the same time neutralizing the highlight. So that's where we are headed. What I would like to do is I want to do this whole thing manually for you first, and then I am going to show you the Automatic Correction and we will just compare the two.
So first, what we are going to do is we are going to go to our Histogram tool and you'll notice how the highlight end of the blue is well to the right of the red and the green which we are pretty close to each other, showing you immediately, when you look at this histogram, you know beyond the shadow of a doubt without even placing the color sampler point that this image has a blue color cast to it. There is an Expert dialog box here that allows us to do this very quickly with color cast removal. But I am not going to use that right now. What I want to do is I want to do this all manually so you really understand the process of what's going on.
So what I am going to do is I am going to go in the individual channels, and I'm going to set the Red channel here, and get that at 242. Watch the Red, Green, and Blue values up here. As I pull in the Red channel, monitor that Red value there, and we will put that right at 242 which is a 5% white highlight. Then while we are in the Red channel, let's go ahead and set the shadow end as well. Notice that the Blue is a little bit higher than the Red, and the Green here, so we can maintain that. So I want to set this at about 15 or 20, somewhere in that range there; it doesn't have to be exact.
This is going to give us overall better contrast. Let's go to the Green channel, and do the same thing, set that right at 242, and we will bring the Green channel up a little bit, so it's fairly close, and then we'll go to the Blue channel, we are going to get the greatest amount adjustment there, all right, there we go. And we will bring that all the way up to 241, 242, as long as we are within 1 or 2, we are going to be okay, no problem. And then, remember we had the Blue that was a little bit higher here, so I'll go ahead and just put that like at about 24. So that maintains the relative balance of that Blue, Green in the water. There we go! Now, look it, you can just see visually how nice that is.
And by the way, if you hold down your Option key, Alt key in Windows, and I just click on it, see how it makes that little icon there for the Redo, Yellow, you can see the changes as I press on that on the channels when I do this. You can see the move that you have made. Now, let's go to the Gradation tool. Now, the Gradation tool is like the Curves tool in Photoshop. But there is a little bit of a difference. When I'm doing color correction in Photoshop, I actually don't even use Levels, I do all of it in Curves.
And the reason is that in Photoshop, I can click on a highlight or a shadow point, and move it any way up or down that I want to. In SilverFast, it allows you to move these points up and down, but not left and right which is why we want to work in the Histogram tool to set our highlights and shadows like we did here, and then, we'll move to the curve to do overall Brightness and Contrast. And notice that there is a midtone with the Histogram tool but I typically don't use it. I like to use the Curves tool here. Now, we can work on individual curves, and in some cases, we will for this.
But for this particular image, I am just going to set Highlights and Shadows on their individual channels and then use the Curve tool to do overall Brightness and Contrast. And if I want to increase contrast in this image, which I might like to do, I am going to take my Contrast curve and I'm going to move it to the right, which adjusts the quarter-tone a little bit lighter, and the three-quarter tone a little bit darker. You'll notice that the RGB values moved up to 243, 244 when we did this. If you know you are going to be coming in here and using his Contrast Adjustment tool, you might want to just set your highlights down just a tiny little bit, like in the low 240s to make sure that you don't go above the 243, 244 mark when you're adjusting the contrast.
Now, notice that there is a Expert tool here as well. Something that I want to point out to you, actually two things, is that notice that with this curve, we did our Curve Adjustment using the Contrast. This also gives you the ability to adjust highlights separately or shadow portion of the curves separately. Well, we have already done basically the same thing. You would use this if you particularly just wanted to work on the three-quarter tone all by itself, or just the quarter-tone by itself.
We wanted to do both which is what the Contrast tool does. This just helps you separate out the quarter-tone and three-quarter tone section of the Contrast tool. Now, I want to show you a tool you don't want to use, and I am going to show you why? That's this Brightness slider here. And the reason is, do you see how it moves the entire curve, blowing out your highlights when you do it that way or filling in your shadows when you do it this way? Don't use this as the Brightness and Contrast tool, just don't use it. Use the midtone tool for brightness, this one for contrast, and the highlight and shadow for adjusting the quarter- tone and three-quarter tone separately.
So, just stay away from this one altogether; it's just too dangerous for working on your image. So we are going to keep that right at 0. All right! So there we go. Now, what I would like to show you next before we move on and do anything else is I want to show you what the Automatic Correction does, and that's what I showed you the Preferences to begin with. Notice that the Automatic Correction tool gives us almost exactly the same correction that we did manually because we're using exactly the same concept of neutralizing the highlights, darkening the shadows. The Automatic Correction tool tended to neutralize the shadow a little bit, and the reason for that is, remember going back to the Preferences and just to remind you, we had turned on Color Cast Removal by making it active and put it at 100%.
So it's automatically going to try to neutralize everything from the highlight to the shadow. What we did is we just modified that slightly because we can look at this image, and go, yeah, that needs to be neutral, that's not necessary to be neutral. We were just thinking a little bit beyond the Automatic Correction. So what you see is then the difference between just a full human analysis of an image, and the Automatic Correction that the Auto Color Correction tool does. So one other adjustment you could make on this image is you could go to the Blue curve and you can lower the Blue curve a little bit more to take out some of the Blue in that image, knowing full well that in the highlights that we assume that it's going to be in the midtone as well, but leaving the shadow relatively untouched. Okay.
So there is an analysis of a landscape in terms of overall highlights and shadow and brightness and contrast. We can move on to the global color correction, you can make an adjustment there if you wanted to, if you want to take out some more blue or make it warmer. But we are going to cover global color correction, and selective color correction later on, really unnecessary for this particular image. So let's just put those away. I just wanted to refer to them. But one thing we do want to kind of adjust here, is that Unsharp Masking. My preference is I don't sharpen during the scan.
I create color corrected nice bright high contrast images for landscapes, then I move them into Photoshop and I keep the unsharpened image as my original archived image. Then I make copies of it, and then I sharpen it for various purposes later on. But let's assume, you don't want to mess with Photoshop, fine! And the good news is that the Sharpening tools in SilverFast are excellent. Notice that as soon as we turn on the Unsharp Mask tool, notice how the image just pops. Let's first talk about the basic Unsharp Mask tool that's going to increase the contrast between pixels along high contrast edges by 100%, and it's going to apply to a Radius of 1 pixel on each side of each edge.
Then we want to address Threshold. What Threshold addresses is where the Unsharp Mask is going to be applied in the image. And the default is 1. I'm going to set this up to about 2 or 3 pixels here, maybe halfway between. The reason is that in the soft and flat areas of the image here, I don't want too much sharpening to occur here. I want sharpening in the high contrast portions of the image like this, but not in the lower contrast area. So I am going to say I want at least 2.5 pixels of difference in grayscale value between adjacent pixels before the sharpening in the image.
It won't decrease the sharpening up here, but it will prevent from any grain being added in the softer portions of the image. One other thing to pay attention to in an image like this is the Sharpening up to, and typically, I like to lower this on most of my images to about 90%. Why? Because in the dark portions of the image, I really don't want sharpening to take place because sharpening tends to add grain to the shadow areas, and particularly to soft shadows. So in these areas like this where we have got a little bit of a cast shadow and some smooth consistency in the shadow, I don't want any grain added.
So I am going to add that on like that. So if we want sharpening, we can turn it on, we can certainly do that. And we are going to do that for this particular scan. All right! Let's go up to Scan Dimensions and just get that set. What do we need to address here? Well, remember in the Expert dialog box, you can numerically set Input and Output values. Here, I am not going to worry about it, I am just going to scan at the original dimension and I am going to set that manually. You can set it numerically if you want to. We are going to set our Resolution. And once again, my workflow and my recommended one is, scan at the largest dimension and the highest resolution you think you are going to use your image.
And if you want this to be at a larger starting dimension, you can set that on Output. Here, I am just going to go one to one. Then we are going to choose a name that's going to suit our image, and we're going to call this Wave, and in fact I might call this Kodiak Wave. And we are going to call this RGB. We are going to apply 300, and then we are going to save this out in either TIFF or Photoshop format, because these are the two that are fully uncompressed, no damage to the image. Then I am going to choose to save this out as JPEG or JPEG 2000, or save it as a PDF later on in my workflow.
So that's my recommendation is to save in a fully uncompressed format. All right! Well, there we go! So we are all ready to go ahead and complete our scan. We'll just do a quick check, make sure, yup! We've got a nice white highlight, we've got a nice dark shadow, and we can go ahead and click Scan. We can monitor the scan process down here in the Scanner Status window and note if your scanner doesn't start up immediately, it's probably having to warm-up because it hasn't been used in a few minutes, and sure enough look it, it's saying Warming up here. Then as soon as that scan is completed, you can click the Open Image button and then, SilverFast will direct the application that you have set in your Operating System to open, in this case, TIFF files and in my case, I have always got it set to Photoshop.
And there is our nice, high contrast, beautiful, bright, well-sharpened image, and notice as we move our cursor around, we can see all these white highlight areas are well within the 240, 241, 242. Look at that white highlight right there; beautiful! 242, 242, 242, got it right on the money. Shadow area, very nice, still little blue down here, but that's fine! Remember, we decided we were going to do that. Nice color saturation in the background, sharpening all around. So there's how to capture landscapes using a combination of just the manual tools, or you can use the automatic tools in combination with your manual tools.
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