Scanning: Negatives and Positives, Part 2

In the previous post on this subject, I mentioned that scanning B&W negatives as positives could be a useful technique for high contrast negatives. Take a look at this example scanned as negative:



Yuck. Nasty, too bright highlights. I could work with it in PS, but I’d be struggling to bring those highlights down in any way that would look natural. Scanning as a negative positive gives me this, which at first glance, is worse:



A quick dose of levels and some wide radius USM, gives me this:

The highlights have been taken down from the painful range, but there’s still some detail in the skin tones. Looks better to me.

Scanning: Negatives and Positives

Colin has recently been writing a lot about scanning. His post on RAW scanning reminded me of scanning negatives as positives, a technique I long ago abandoned, perhaps unfairly, after I got started down the path of tweaking the chemical process to suit the scanner. Back in ye olden days when people used to scan film, you would hear a lot about the benefits of scanning your B&W negatives as positives and then inverting the file in Photoshop using any one of a variety of techniques. By doing this you supposedly avoided the crappy algorithms and default curves of your scanning software. Generally, the technique results in a bright but flat scan, much like this:



Compare that, to a scan done as negative, with the scanner doing the inversion and curves:



As you can see, in scan done as a negative, the scanner software has pulled the data apart to give a full tonal range. In this case, it worked well. The negative was fairly flat, with a lot of detail in the shadows and highlights that were well within the scanner’s range. For a fairly neutral contrast photo like this, I’m not sure if there is any value in scanning as positive, but with a higher contrast image, scanning as a positive might give you a bit more headroom to work with. A bit like RAW scanning – or like shooting RAW in general – but without the need to buy vuescan or something similar. It’s a trick worth remembering.

Hexar RF, 50 Hex, HP5 @ 200, Tmax Dev

the final version, from the scan done as a negative

BTW, HP5 @ 200 developed in Tmax 1+5 for 5 minutes at 68 degrees seems a promising combo.

Doesn’t anybody at Nikon wear glasses?

Hexar RF, 50 Hex, Delta 400 @ 250, Tmax Dev

Seriously? Who builds a pro camera (D3) with an eye relief of 18mm? Even their new pro-sumer (D300) camera only has 19.5mm of eye relief. Canon isn’t much better with 20mm for the new 1Dspq43 Mark IIIIXV, but at least the 40D gets 22mm. (Utterly Off-topic Obervation: Someone in the Canon product-naming department must have worked for the Royal Ordnance Ordinance Factory in a previous life.

I don’t want any of these pieces of junk for myself, but I feel for my oppressed, be-spectacled, digital shooting brothers and sisters. Unite! Unite! Stand up for rights!