Film scanning and digital workflow

Hello film shooters!  I was reading a friend’s blog post recently and he was complaining that he wasn’t wowed by the images he was getting straight out of the scanner.  Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to be!  Actually with my scanner I go through extra steps to not be “wowed” by the images straight out of the scanner, and I probably should do more, at some point.  From what I remember the regular PSI software for the Pakon scanners outputs at 8Bit (even TIFFs) though my Pakon F335 is capable of 12Bit or 14Bit I believe; this takes special software which I have never bothered to set up.

I’m not sure how everyone else scans their film, but I decided to write this to show how I do it.  Of course a lot of the time the lab is doing it for me, and while I wouldn’t complain too much about how they do it, if you have the ability to scan yourself then there is greater control over your images and it costs less.  I had my Pakon  scanner out of storage for a few months while I was living in a place where there was room for it, so I had my local lab develop my film and return the negatives to me uncut, which was less work for them and easier for me to scan.

The standard way of scanning with PSI tends to render black & white film with far too much contrast, so I manually select everything and lower the contrast to at least -20, possibly -40 depending on the film (-40 is as flat as it gets).  In the past I exported raw negative images but found that my inversions were losing quite a bit of the image; it’s an extemporaneous step, plus you’re losing all the benefits of working with PSI and Kodak’s experience that was brought to the color science of getting proper scans.  If you own a Pakon F135 (non-plus) you’re using TLX Client Demo and the only way you can get the full 3000×2000 resolution is to output raw, I hear.  But I also hear plugins like Negative Lab Pro work amazingly well.

Now probably the most annoying thing about working with the Pakon is that it was designed to only be used with Windows XP machines (I have a couple) and while that was a damn good OS and I miss it, sadly I can’t just plug my scanner into any computer, I have to have a dedicated scanning machine and then export everything onto a flash drive (formatted for Fat32) and brought over to my laptop for finishing. I have everything saved by roll and drag all 38 or so files into Affinity Photo to start working on them:

This is how a scan will look before I start to work on it:

For some reason the Pakon’s black & white scans still have some color and have to be turned grayscale, so I do that and then adjust the curves to where I need them.  This image was exposed perfectly and required very little adjustment, not always the case.

Even shooting my modified Sunny-8 rule with a non-metered manual camera I’ve gotten pretty good at reading the light so I fluff very little…outdoors.  Indoors is another story, much more guesswork there.  PSI file names by default start with AA, AB, AC, etc, so I add my own prefix which tells me the year and season I shot them as well as where this roll fits in sequentially.  So I have everything saved by roll of film in the full res JPGs, but I do a little more work to get things ready for the internet, starting with making all the images smaller.

I still use a watermark though I’m getting away from that, for right now making it much less obtrusive.  Final export includes a bit more compression to keep the file size down.

And here is the final image:

Can’t resist taking photos with beautiful women!

Not optimized

MAKE YOUR PHOTOBLOG GO FURTHER

Evidently I’ve been a bit of an ignoramus when it comes to running this site!  I’m doing more research now.  It started with this post which I thought I could possibly do without seeing as it is some old information.  But looking at the first photo there (called “weboptim”), I realized there was probably more I could do.  So thanks to this article for helping me do that.  I’ve been using Affinity Photo for nearly a year and like it a lot, it’s a great alternative to Photoshop that doesn’t cost too much and you can own it…compare to Photoshop which makes you pay a monthly subscription to use.

But I realized that my photos on here, while not necessarily large, were certainly not optimized for the Web.  And here’s what I mean:

.

One is what I’ve been uploading before, the other is after tweaking the settings, and I can’t say I notice the difference, but it’s taken what was a 3MB file down to less than 600kB.  I think this site just got some new life, but it’ll take a long time for me to go through and fix all my pics.  But if you’ve run into space issues on your site/blog I hope this will help.

Of course this comes after I’ve gone through the last few years and pruned some shots I thought were not up to my usual standards of excellence, but at least I can say I’m smarter now than I was a few days ago.

Workflow adjustments and Fall colors

It’s a time of change for me: I’m examining workflow which has been stilted since COVID started; I haven’t even edited any photos in almost a year now but there’s been such a backlog it hasn’t been a problem.  My old way was to scan everything on the Pakon, export to TIFF and stick it on a flash drive, then take it down to school the next time I was there and use their computers and copy of Adobe Photoshop CS6 to adjust contrast/exposure until I got what I wanted.  Now with color negative there wasn’t a whole lot to do, the Pakon’s color profiles are fantastic, so I’d generally accept the JPG output, resize it, watermark it, and call it a day.

With the lockdown and finishing up of all photo classes I haven’t been down there, and the only option I had was to use Photoshop 7 that was installed on my WinXP machine I use hooked up to the Pakon.  I have a Win7 laptop but its display is a bit off as is the monitor on the WinXP machine; I have a few rolls of black & white that I’ve had developed and didn’t want to do anything with them until I had a chance to really set everything correctly, but I finally scanned 3 rolls of color negative and would have just posted them straight from the Pakon.  It would have been fine and they would have looked like this:

(that’s the old original watermark which is the only one I happened to have on my WinXP machine at the time)

However, thanks to being blessed with a new (to me) laptop, I feel comfortable with editing photos at home; this is a big change for me! It’s more powerful and seems to be pretty well calibrated in the screen department so I’m planning to dedicate this machine primarily to photo editing purposes.  I’m not about to pay money on a monthly basis to Adobe for a program that I can’t own so I’ve been exploring Photoshop alternatives.  Currently I’m using a free trial version of Affinity Photo which seems to be not too dissimilar.  It’s allowed me to tweak the levels, etc, while still keeping a very similar workflow.  Here are the results so far:

So a bit more contrast, somewhat darker, and I’m playing around with a few different watermarks: I think this is the new look of The Resurrected Camera.

This is Kodak Gold 200 exposed at ASA100 in 3 different Nikon bodies I picked up last year, I wanted to check out the 1/1000 shutter speeds to make sure that the shutter curtains were in sync.  I used an expired roll of film I bought years ago and color negative is the cheapest to develop; around $4.00 at my local camera store.  This also happened to coincide with the leaves changing in Fall so I ended up shooting several rolls of color around the end of September/beginning of October.  I generally don’t do much on the post-side of things, just adjust the curves to get proper contrast and light levels; I gave a general idea of this here.