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.
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.