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Any analogue photo not digitally enhanced or manipulated ! !

Some months ago I posted a very short blog entry in which I wondered about the fact that we all love analogue, but we publish our pictures digitally. This question never left my mind and I am going to write down some thoughts on this theme, especially since every completion here states that the picture needs to be:” Any analogue photo not digitally enhanced or manipulated”

What does this mean? “Not digitally enhanced or manipulated” Because every picture you see on this website/community is digitally enhanced and manipulated. If you haven’t done it yourself, your lab did it. The very moment your negative is scanned, software starts enhancing and manipulating the picture. I hope that’s clear for everyone. Your picture is a ‘negative’ the picture that appears on your screen is a positive. So somewhere your computer made calculations to invert that image, to decide the white and black point, adjust contrast and so on.

Just look at the next two nearly identical pics. They both come straight out of my scanner. Because one picture is cropped differently my scanner software made different calculations.

So can we say “Not digitally enhanced or manipulated” means: straight out the scanner? I do not agree with that. I use an Epson V600 scanner, the scanner is really good but the software sometimes fucks up. It has problems with cross processed pictures and sprocket pictures (the presence of the black sprocket holes confuses the scanner). So I have to adjust the picture with the scanner software, adjusting the settings manually. If I want to I can change a lot ! I can choose a greenish, bluish whateverish hue. I always try to keep the contrast down, because when I change the contrast with my scanner, I really get a graphic picture. I already saw a lot of them in this community. I do not always like them because I know there was a more beautiful picture available. Of course I don’t blame anybody, because a lot of people have their negatives scanned by the lab. And if you get a graphic picture it usually means there was something wrong anyway. See the overexposed pic below. I tried to correct the overexposue, but you can’t call it beautiful.

A second problem my scanner has is ‘low contrast on black and white pics’. I don’t change the contrast with the scanner, because it is really ugly. I scan it with low contrast and I change the contrast afterwards. That’s not a problem to me, because the digitally enhanced picture is almost identical to my darkroom print and the digitally not-enhanced picture was not like my darkroom print. I think I am allowed to change contrast and exposure in postproduction in order to get the same effect I get in my darkroom.

So where do I draw the line? For me digital manipulation starts when you use different layers in photoshop. And I have seen a quite a few pics here which were clearly manipulated. I have seen perfectly sharp, distortion free photos which had an added layer of unsharp corners. When you are familiar with the unsharpness of a Holga or any other simple meniscus lens, you immediately see the photoshopped effect. I think a very experienced photoshop talent can make an almost perfect fake Holga pic. But those dudes are busy making money and aren’t here. I also saw some black and white pics with an oversaturated red car in the middle. I don’t like that.
Anyway, the line is thin and not clear. Because you can’t simply say that all techniques you can do in a dark room are allowed to recreate digitally. Fellow lomographer Adash has a great analogue technique in which he ads drops of water to his negatives during development. It is not OK to ad digital drops. Some darkroom techniques should not be faked digitally. On the other hand, when you shoot paper negatives and develop them, it is (according to my feeling) ok to scan the negative paper prints and invert them with software. You don’t have to contactprint them manually to get your positive image.

Here are three identical pics. The first is straight from the scanner. On the second one I only changed the brightness (that’s acceptable to me) on the third one I also changed the lightness of the red channel (that’s not acceptable to me, but I only changed two settings, brightness and colour lightness).

Sorry folks I know I am nagging again about details, but hey that’s me !

Greetz Gauthier, Walter, Wouter, Dumont, from the hills, van den berge.

“Water from the mountains” What was my father thinking when he named me?

written by gauthierdumonde

9 comments

  1. dollymixture

    dollymixture

    I' hopeless at scanning so I let my lab do all mine, but now I wonder how great a job they are making of it.
    On the topic of the B&W photos with the red car in them, my friend recently got married and I seen some of the 'professionals' photos from the day.. she had done exactly that, a beautiful black and white photo in my opinion ruined with a bright red telephone box/booth. I could have cried.
    Very interesting blog entry Gauthier.
    Dolly.

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  2. gauthierdumonde

    gauthierdumonde

    @dollymixture Thanks!! By the way, the scans made by my lab are better than my own scans. But at the rate I am shooting I can not afford to have them scanned at the lab. They charge 12 euros to scan a roll (it does not matter, 120 or 135 film, 12, 24 or 36 exp.) at what they call 'high resolution", you get a 400kb file. A scan at real high resolution is 10 euro for one pic !. Anyway, my Epson scanner was 250 euro and it already scanned 2500 pics.

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  3. dollymixture

    dollymixture

    @gauthierdumonde Yeah I know what you mean. 10 euro per picture!! That's shocking! My lab varies depending on 35mm, 120 etc but you pay for developing and scanning, it varies from 5.50 GBP to 8.50 GBP and that's for the whole roll. But they've had my first Sprocket Rocket roll since last Thursday now and still no word of it being sent back to me :( I'm starting to wonder whether I should not be selling my Epson scanner, but keep it and scan my own in future. Your Epson sounds like it has definitely been good value for money with the amount of scans you have already done.

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  4. elvis

    elvis

    O so true ;-)

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  5. buckshot

    buckshot

    digitus = finger, manus = hand. Etymologically speaking, 'digital manipulation' is an inherently analogue process and therefore perfectly acceptable...! ;-)

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  6. grifflander

    grifflander

    If someone says that my "analogue" photos have undergone too much digital manipulation I tell them, "Hey, adjust your monitor. Too much chroma."

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  7. gauthierdumonde

    gauthierdumonde

    @grifflander @buckshot From now on I will tell people to digitally adjust their monitor by using their fingers and hand.

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  8. ihave2pillows

    ihave2pillows

    In essence, I think "Not digitally enhanced or manipulated” means we should try to achieve all the weird and wonderful lomo effects "in-camera", not adding colour shifts afterwards, blurring corners on purpose or faking doubles. I take it as an attempt separate our lomo selves from to Photoshop post-production world, or an effort to keep the analogue culture and its creative process alive.

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  9. gauthierdumonde

    gauthierdumonde

    @ihave2pillows That's the essence.

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