JPEG news

Well, this is good news.  I’m not really one to mess around with RAW when I scan, usually I just export to JPG and leave it at that, but film scanners (especially the high-end ones) can record so much more information than what one can see in the standard JPG, and if all their improvements are true, man, just the ability to have 12bit color bit depth is just fantastic, let alone the lossless compression.  This is not only good for digital pictures, it’s good all around.  Except….

The thing is, Digital will always be changing things, always trying to make improvements, make the consumers spend another pile of cash on the next big thing.  If one shoots digital, and if one still has access to one’s RAW files, then 12bit JPG is a good thing.  Did you keep all your RAW files?  Can you access them still?

If not, too bad.

That 8bit color depth is as good as that picture’s ever going to get and there’s nothing that can be done about that.  For the last 14 years, most consumer-owned cameras have been set up to shoot JPG, or if not, most pictures were still stored that way (I’m unsure even if they could be set up to shoot a new JPG format).  That means probably 95% of family photos since Y2K.  8bit JPG will be automatically obsolete the day 12bit JPG comes out.  So now, I guess everyone is going to be inspired to go out and buy a new digital camera…

Film, on the other hand, has so many colors, so much detail, that it can’t even yet be all seen in the digital world.  This is why, as a film shooter, I see 12bit JPG as nothing but good news.  Sure, it might be a bit of a pain in the ass for people who have to rescan a lot of images (assuming they didn’t keep their digital RAW files), but all the information they could ever want is there in the negative (and slides!) for as long as they’ll need it.  That is just part of the magic of film.

Can’t say I’m surprised, but…

This isn’t really anything new here, we knew it was coming since at least November, and it’s not like I didn’t know that movie studios are soulless profit centers, creatively and morally bankrupt, but it still makes me sad.  The option should always exist to show your film on a 35mm print, but that’s being taken away from us now.  For other thoughts, see my earlier post:


It’s about a week now until classes start up again and I’m trying to get everything in order.  I’ve been busy, not much time to write, but at long last I have the cable I needed to connect my scanner to my new SCSI card.  And as I write this I’ve been trying out Vuescan (the free version – see the watermarks?)

What’s wonderful about Vuescan is that they continually update old drivers for hardware that is no longer supported by its manufacturer (like my Minolta Scan Dual F2400), so they provide quite a service by keeping legacy hardware running on modern computers (or in my case, my Windows XP machine from about 2004).  Quite a service.  As I write this I’m testing out the software, trying to learn how to get what I want out of the scan.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:
Behold my music composition teacher’s beautiful arm. This picture actually became the basis/starting point for one of my projects in VA2110 Intro to Photography.

That’s a straight scan to JPG, with me playing around with darkness and contrast in the scanner settings.  Some people prefer doing all the adjustments digitally in Photoshop, but it takes so much time and I don’t find that I have much need of that, plus I don’t own Photoshop.  Setting up the scanner to do it the way I want seems to fit more with my workflow and since I now have about 40+ rolls of film to scan, I need to find that middle ground between perfection and expediency.

So far I’d say I’m happy with it and more than willing to spend $80 for the full version, so once I set up a dedicated photo machine, wipe the HD and upgrade the ram as much as I can I’ll be ready for scanning for the foreseeable future!  If anyone out there is looking for drivers and software to use an outdated scanner on a modern (or modernish) machine I would encourage them to give Vuescan a try.

The New Cinema

Another article I picked up from Kodak’s Facebook page.  I like what John Schwartzman has to say about digital intermediates and making a direct optical print photochemically.  If you go directly from the negative to a print for projection, you retain a lot more of the color that is lost when a negative is scanned digitally, and projected, there is a much greater sense of depth in the image, better contrast, you can see so much deeper into the shadows. Even digital images look better when projected on 35mm film!

Now, when I moved to Colorado a little over four years ago, pretty much all the theaters in my area had switched over to digital projection already.  The small theater in Woodland Park (which is the closest to me) switched over sometime in 2010, so really I had gotten quite reconciled to digital projection (in fact, I never thought about it one way or the other), but then sometime in the 2nd half of 2011 I saw Tree of Life in a small indie theater in Colorado Springs and was blown away by what I saw.  This theater, Kimball’s, was the last holdout still showing 35mm prints in my area.  Sadly, the mandate came down from The Studios that they weren’t going to pay to ship out film prints much longer (especially Fox Searchlight, which is where Kimball’s got most of their prints) so while I got to see a few last film prints, sadly now there is no theater anywhere near me that shows 35mm film prints anymore.  Kimball’s survived and switched their last screen over to digital early in 2013.  I saw Inside Llewyn Davis there just last week, but the magic just isn’t there anymore and going to the theater has become a somewhat disappointing experience.

Back in 2006 I made a 4-hour trip to Lexington, KY just to see Tideland on the big screen (sadly, we were the only ones there), so I hope that proves my dedication at least in some ways (mainly to Terry Gilliam) – Denver is only 2 hours away from me, so if I want to see something bad enough to drive to Denver, I can still see an occasional film print (maybe Zero Theorem?) but really, the theater just isn’t what it once was and I’ve kind of been sapped of my enthusiasm to go back.  There’s absolutely nothing the theater gives me anymore in the way of an experience that I can’t have at home.  With the next gen video game systems here, now’s probably the time to get myself a Playstation 3 and start delving (at long last) into the world of Blu-ray.

When Schwartzman talks about optical 35mm prints, about how Kaminski, Nolan and Pfister insist on doing it that way, I have to wonder where the hell I’m going to have to go to see one of those prints.  As it is, 95% of the people who saw the latest Spielberg or Nolan film saw it digitally projected anyway, so are the studios going to pay to make and ship any 35mm prints again?  I wish there was a bit more information out there to help people find where these are being shown, but it doesn’t seem that many people care about that sort of thing these days.  Sad.


Kodak posted this story on Facebook a day or two ago, and there’s one interesting point that doesn’t get mentioned a whole lot: Total Cost of Ownership.  In the article the Kodak rep is talking more about the printing side of things and that’s a good point – traditional b/w paper is supposed to last hundreds of years, as are b/w film negatives.  That’s why archival separation film is the best way to store a motion picture (and it costs 11 times less than the digital alternative).  My family still has portraits of ancestors and family members from Civil War times and before, and they look as good as they day they were made.

So just how much does digital cost?  I guess you have to take into account not only the camera, but take into account that you’ll probably be buying a new one every couple years, then add in the computer too.  And then do you upgrade your computer every few years?  How does one view a digital image without a computer?  With b/w film, one doesn’t even necessarily need electricity.  (though admittedly I imagine it would be hard trying to operate an oil lantern enlarger)  I see people offloading darkroom equipment for pretty damn good prices these days.  Now is probably the best time to get into that side of it…

The Redheaded Zombie Awards

…is a place for Colorado artists to showcase their best work of 2013, brought to you by Colorado Springs’ local arts collective, The Brainless Horde.  I am proud to say that I have been nominated for best photograph, and you can see it entered here:
I’ve also been nominated in music for best album…happy both ways now.


50mm f/4 1/250 Kodak Tri-X 400

This was taken early last semester for a photography course I took at UCCS.  For most of the semester I was using a Minolta SRT MC-II that I picked up at Goodwill.  I used the Minolta 50mm 1.4 lens that my friends had given me with their camera and that combination served me well for the entire semester, though towards the end I started adding other cameras on top of that one.  I’ll gush more about that camera later I’m sure.  $8.00 camera, free lens, $5.00 roll of film.  I’m really proud of this shot.

Fun with scanners

Last summer I picked up a bottom-of-the-line Minolta dedicated film scanner off Craigslist.  Not too special, has a maximum 2400dpi, which gives me scans around 3300×2200.  To put that in perspective, if one were to get their film processed and scanned at say Walgreens, one would get a scan that is 1800×1215.  So my 15-year-old semi-pro film scanner gives me an image that is four times larger (or is that four times more detailed?) than what Walgreens can do, and I don’t have to pay them 5.00 a roll?  Hmmm, if only I had the extra time to take advantage of that…



My Minolta F2400:

There’s a bit of a learning curve, and sometimes things come out better, sometimes not.  This was my first try; I pulled out some negatives my mom had lying around that came from a Fuji waterproof disposable camera.  Honestly, the biggest hurdle is processing power.  Older scanners are SCSI devices, and I had to use an old Win98 machine that just wasn’t up to the task.  I’m in the process of fixing that now, because scanning one 24-exposure roll of film absolutely should not take 8 hours.  With Microsoft dropping Windows XP this year, I’m going to see how expensive it is to upgrade my RAM, drop in a SCSI card, and turn this computer into a dedicated photo machine.  Hopefully it’ll be able to handle larger files when I find a better scanner, say 4000-5400dpi.

The Lights of Seven Falls


Last summer, some friends gave me their old camera. It was a Minolta X-700 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. With that camera and a few rolls of film I had in my fridge, I made this.

I feel truly blessed that people bring me things I can use. I’ve been given six cameras, and bought several more over the last few years, none of them costing more than a couple good SD cards.

While it frustrates me to no end that it seems like no one cares about shooting film anymore, I’m happy that I can provide a recycling service for people looking to offload (what to them is) junk. If you are thinking of getting rid of something like an old camera, please don’t just toss it – if nothing else you could donate it to your local thrift store, but ask around first, because someone you know might appreciate and use it.