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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 movie, I'd like to show you how to perform an automatic scan of a piece of negative film. Here, we're starting in the default interface, which is the manual interface in SilverFast. We're going to move over to the automatic scanning interface in just a moment. First, I'd just like to review some of our goals and challenges when we are scanning film of any kind. We have the same initial set of challenges of highlights, and shadows, and brightness, and contrast we have with any other kind of scanning. I'd refer you to the other movies for scanning grayscale and color for that. Here, I'd like to focus on what are the challenges specific to film, and one of the very common challenges for scanning film is, when we're scanning film, you have to understand that one side of that film has emulsion it, and that emulsion is very easily damaged, and as you can see, in this piece of film is all of these scratches on here.
Well, SilverFast knows this, and they have some automatic dust and scratch removal filters built into their software, and you'll see how good they are. First thing I want to encourage you to do is handle your film carefully, and try to reduce the number of dust and scratches that you have on there by handling the film carefully, and making sure that you clean your film before you actually put it in the scanner. And we're making an assumption here that we are working with clean film, and clean scanners. All right! Well, let's just dive right over into the automatic interface by clicking on the WorkflowPilot: the red globe in the upper left-hand corner, and that takes us to the blue globe, which signifies we're in the automatic interface.
As you may know from watching the other movies, we move from left to right when we're in the automatic interface, and we answer a couple of basic questions first, and that is, what is the Source, or input Source? And in this case, we're going to be working with a Negative. And then we're going to ask the question, what's the output Task that this image is going to be used for? And if you've looked at this before, you know there're all sorts of choices. Now, if you have a very specific use for this particular image, such as just Presentation mode on HDTV or something, you can select one of these presets here, and SilverFast will walk you through the process for that particular use.
What I'd like to do, however, is show you how to do a scan for a multipurpose image. So we're going to do an overall high-quality scan. So, we're going to choose input Source for Negative; output Task for Print. We're going to keep our image in color. If you wanted to convert it to black and white, you could, but we're going to go with color, and if you're interested in converting your negative to black and white from color, then I'd encourage you to look at the Color to Grayscale movie that we have earlier in this course. So we're going to start with color, stay with color, and then we're going to click Start, and that automatically initiates the prescan that will allow us to frame our image, and then move on from there.
And of course, to frame our image, we're going to use this red rectangle here, and notice that there is the negative version. As soon as the prescan is done, SilverFast automatically converts it to a positive, so you're looking something that's familiar. Well, one of the real nice things about this automatic interface is that when you're working in print, you can say, hey, I'd like this to be a 5 by 7. SilverFast is going to make all the calculations for you, and then provide you with a 5 by 7 image at 300 pixels per inch on output, which is really nice. Now here, we're going to go ahead and fix the scan frame, assuming we're going to go to 5 by 7.
So I'm going to click on Landscape, and then we just drag these corners until we get the dimensions that we want, and we can stretch it out, reduce it, move it around; get it just the way we would like to have it. Then, because this is negative, one of the things about scanning negatives is that there're all sorts of different kinds of negative emulsions from different manufacturers that have different color casts. So what you want to do is look along the top edge of your film, and along at the top edge of the film, it'll tell you the manufacturer, and the film type, and the ASA, or the ISO, depending on how old your film is, and then you want to set those three parameters right here.
So, for instance, this was Kodak, and this Filmtype is Gold, and the ISO, or ASA, is 200. Now I've got this set up specifically for the type of film that I used to shoot this image. Just a little sidebar here: it's okay if you want to experiment a little bit. Like, for instance, watch the image when I go to 100. See, it's a little bit darker, and a little bit more neutral. You might like that. So don't worry about experimenting. You don't have to absolutely stick to the rules, but in this case, we're just going to go ahead and start with the original. Then there's the CCR.
You can either turn that off, or on, depending upon whether you want the automatic color correction. I recommend, for most images, go ahead and turn it on. SilverFast will do a pretty darn good job of doing an automatic color correction on your image. Then down here, I'm going to make a recommendation to you. This is a very common kind of picture that people take: shooting in bright sunshine, in the middle of the day, and particularly if it's something like a snow scene, images tend to be a little bit too bright, undersaturated, and a little bit flat. Well, you can go to the Exposure setting here, and we can drop this down, and we can just reduce the exposure a little bit, so that our image is a little bit darker; somewhere between 0.5 and 1.0.
Just make it a little bit darker, and that's going to give us a little bit better color saturation, a little bit better contrast. So once we have the scan dimensions in the NegaFix that, we're ready to click the Continue button, and SilverFast will apply automatic corrections to both the Histogram, which sets the highlights and shadows, and the Gradation tool, which will set overall brightness and contrast. And we can see what those corrections are by just clicking forward, and that takes us to the Histogram, which, those of you who are Photoshop mavens, this is similar to the Levels tool, and the Gradation tool is similar to the Curves tool.
And if you want to see the correction that SilverFast has made, this little double-arrow down; if you click on that, it undoes the correction, but if you just hold the Option key on the Mac, Alt on Windows, see, it goes yellow? And watch the Histogram. You can see the correction that it's actually made the adjustment. Remember, the adjustment that SilverFast makes in terms of the highlight and the shadow dot is controlled by the preferences that we set earlier on in the course, and I think it was at 5% Highlight, and a 95% Shadow. So, we'll click forward and go to Continue. Notice that, overall, SilverFast has darkened our image a little bit.
I mentioned shooting at high noon, and bright sunshine. One of the adjustments we can make is down here at Contrast. Take this up, maybe, up to between 5 and 6, to lighten the quarter tone a little bit, and darken the three-quarter tone. It gives us just a little bit more contrast. All right! And then on to the next tool, and this is the one that's so very powerful, it's used on film, and it's the Dust and Scratches Removal filter here. And I want to show you how powerful this filter really is. And to do this, I'm just going to click on this 1 to 1, and what this does is it creates a frame that we can use, and I'm just going to click on a portion of the image that has some obvious dust and scratches on it. And what this does, this preview, is it shows you what exactly it's going to do to the image, and it's worth taking a look at this.
And notice, there is the high-resolution scan, and what it would look like without applying this Scratch Removal filter. And notice that, boy, these scratches are horrible on here, and those will really show up, particularly if you apply sharpening to your image. It takes away your those scratches, and it does a really, really nice job. And you can just use the default on here; on most images it does a really, really fine job. To return to the regular preview, just click on the Preview button here, and then we're ready to move on. So, we'll click Continue. Now, we're ready to name our image, and if you've watched some of the other movies, you know I like to use a logical name.
Let's call this Glacier, and I like to put in the scan mode, which is RGB, and then I like to put in the resolution at which this image is going to be scanned. There we go. And then we're going to choose a file format. My recommendation for Workflow is to capture an image at the largest dimension, and the highest quality that you can. And part of that high-quality formula is choosing a file format that doesn't compress it. My recommendation is to go with either TIFF or .psd. Then we'll select the path. Over here we're going to go in the Scanned Images folder, we click Choose, and we're done.
We're ready to go ahead and click the Continue button that initiates the scan. And then you can follow the scan status -- the progress of the scan -- down here in the Scanner status window. If your scanner hasn't been active for awhile, it may have shut down; the bulb may have been cooled off, so this may say scanner starting up, or scanner warming up. So if you click that button, and nothing happens initially, just look down here to see what's going on. Then, depending upon the dimensions, and the resolution, it'll take 30 seconds to maybe a couple of minutes to scan your image. As soon as your scan is complete, SilverFast takes you back to the full manual mode, but the important thing here is this little button, which is the Open image file.
You click on that, and then SilverFast will automatically direct whichever application you've set to open up, in this case, TIFF files. And I've set mine up in Photoshop, so it opens the image, in this case, up in Photoshop, and we can see that we've got a nicely scanned image with nice highlight detail; good shadow detail. Look at -- nearly all those dust and scratches have been removed, and sure enough, we end up with the 5 by 7 inch image, at 300 pixels per inch, with SilverFast doing all of that calculation for us.
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