My Film Scanning Workflow
As of this blog entry, my portfolio contains 23 images. All were shot on film using a Canon AE-1 camera as old as I am. As I wrote in my first blog entry, I'm not anti-digital. In fact, I'm soon to have my very own Canon DSLR.
In any case, I'd like to share my scanning process and hope that it helps someone with a collection of negatives and/or slides who's looking to put them to use.
For starters, it helps to use the lowest ISO film possible, with very low grain.
The following 2 images on the right (2 of my first sales!) were shot on Fuji Superia 100 print film.
And the shot of Kyoto Station was shot using a release cable. I think I timed the exposure at about 5 seconds.
And the following image on the left was shot on Fuji REALA ACE 100 print film:
The above shots were scanned on an Epson PM-A750 all-in-one flatbed scanner using the Epson Scan utility. Most of my images were scanned on an Epson Perfection 2400 flatbed scanner. I normally use the default settings and then choose the low setting for dust removal. On the above shots, I also used the low setting on noise reduction. It worked, but I prefer to do that in Photoshop. Using the scan utility usually overdoes any tweaking. It's better to do it manually and maintain some control in Photoshop. (I use Photoshop Elements, by the way. It's the stripped down cheaper version. It suits me fine, but eventually I'd like to look into Aperture. - Anyone use Aperture?)
I scan at 2400dpi, target size: original - 35mm. Anything less will not give you images big enough to be accepted. You can go bigger, but you'll greatly increase the file size. I save as TIFFs. Each image takes up roughly 20MB of space.
In Photoshop Elements, I adjust the color levels. Many times, Auto Levels does the trick. Then I tweak it a tiny bit with "Color Variations".
If need be, I apply a "Dust & Scratches" or "Reduce Noise" filter to get rid of, well, dust and scratches and noise.
Many times I have to clean up the image before any filters with the Clone Stamp Tool. In the scanning process, if there's a hair or dust, then there will be small "holes" in the image, or a long scratch. These are fixed with the Clone Stamp Tool. The Clone Stamp Tool is my good friend, and sometimes my enemy. It's very tedious.
Another problem that often occurs is small pixelated areas. Especially in "busy" areas of an image such as running water or trees. If there's too much of this, then I don't bother.
After all this, using File Info, I embed all of my keywords, description and title. Then I save as jpg. And upload.
Keep in mind, if an image has too much noise or scratches or pixelated areas, it may not be worth the time. For stock purposes, I started with my cleanest images and have worked up the tedium scale. I think I have some images that are much better images, but are not worth the time it'll take to clean up all the pixelation and noise.
I've used this process for a few years now, and I've done freelance photography work before using this process. I must say that I am greatly looking forward to that DSLR and cutting out much expense and time!
Photo credits: Reeddaigle.