After almost a year of self scanning, I no longer believe that we should leave the scanner to it's own devices.
Over the past month or two, I’ve been inspired by the Impossible Project, Polaroid (pack) Land Cameras and instant photography in general. I still love traditional film, perhaps even more so.
I made some discoveries, both with scanning instant photographs and sprockets. I’ll start with sprockets.
When you scan with sprockets you narrow the area the scanner scans, to avoid the sprockets. You do this so that the scanner is not influenced by the holes and doesn’t choose the wrong colour range to scan. From the get-go you are agreeing to let the scanner colour correct for you. Something you cannot turn off.
I’ve not had satisfactory results using this ‘standard’ process unless I scan each image individually, letting the scanner choose the colours strictly for a single image. A long and laborious process. The evidence we can draw from this is, regardless of sprockets, the scanner is colour correcting, and doing a bad job if the images in the strips of negs you are scanning are not all very similar.
This is highlighted when you start scanning instant images. You can see the final product in front of you, then you scan, the scanner makes it’s choices and gets it wrong. Here is an example.
This is a shot of graffiti taken on Fuji FP-100c an instant, colour film. This is a scan I made, and then corrected to look like what I had in my hand:
Here is another I scanned, and did nothing to beyond the scanners basic settings.
Take a good hard look. My colour corrected image is grey. The scanner’s is blue; simply not how it looks in my hand. Worse still it looks washed out, there is little contrast.
I found some negatives from when I was a teenager this week. They were shot when I was a student, which predates a digital darkroom flow. I scanned the negs and they looked nothing like the prints. They were horrible. There was a good variety of lighting conditions, inside, outside, heavy contrast, low contrast. I pretended they were sprocket photos and followed the flow, using a different part of each image. This heavily affected the overall series of images.
Lastly the magazine occasionally features articles about darkroom techniques. The techniques you can use in the darkroom alter contrast, colour etc. When you scan you haven’t the freedom to make these simple basic tweaks if you don’t edit the images at all. This simply isn’t fair to those without access to darkrooms or chemicals.
Lomography is all about images that were what you got in the camera. When you self scan, this isn’t what you get. What you get is less contrasty and a different colour. Two quick tweaks to the image in Photoshop and it’s back to what was in the camera.
This is the standard competition rule that pretty much governs our community: “Any analogue photo not digitally enhanced or manipulated.”
All of the images in the online community are digitally manipulated as soon as they are scanned electronically for use online. They all break this rule.
This rule needs to be changed to: “Any analogue photo not digitally enhanced or manipulated beyond what was taken in the camera.”