Making Those Annoying Horizontal Lines on Your Photos Disappear


A simple fix for those horizontal lines that appear on your shots when scanning.

Is there anything more annoying than those pesky little specks of dust all over your scanned photos? I used to think there isn’t. I would spend an hour or two just cleaning my photos from a single roll. Those specks drove me nuts!

That is until I started noticing these blue or purple lines that run horizontally across the top part my photos.

The two horizontal lines at the top kept appearing in all of my shots when I scanned my negatives.

Have you ever had this happen to you? I’m sure many of you had.

When I started having this problem, I thought they were the result of the cheap squeegee that I use to remove the excess water off my films after I develop them. So I stopped using that squeegee. I thought that would fix that problem.

To my dismay, it didn’t. The next two rolls I had developed – a 120 and a 35mm – still had the same lines on each shot and on the same general area too! However, I examined the negatives and there was no trace of the lines. It seemed that the lines only appeared when I was scanning the negatives.

That’s when I realized that the problem was on my scanner glass… the outer side of the glass looked fine, except for a few specks of dust, which were very easy to clean off. I noticed, though, that there were three small but very visible specks that were stuck on the underside of that glass. The worst part was, they weren’t easily accessible.

I tried tapping on the glass and lightly shaking the scanner to no avail. Those specs stuck to the glass with a persistence that would have made the leeches proud! At this time, I was already sure that they were the cause of those annoying lines on my photos and there was no way I would just leave them there.

So what did I do? I unplugged my scanner and turned it over ever so gently. On its back were several screws that attached the back to the part of the scanner that held the glass. I simply unscrewed them, lifted the back, and then cleaned the underside with a soft cloth, making sure that I didn’t leave more dust on it.

When I was satisfied that the glass was clear, I re-screwed the back and turned the scanner right side up. I then rescanned the same negatives that had those lines and viola, the lines disappeared!

This shot had two lines running from top to bottom on the left side of the frame when I first scanned it. After I cleaned the underside of the glass, I rescanned this shot and the lines were gone!
The lines running on the top area of these shots disappeared after I cleaned the underside of the glass.

If you’re having this same problem, go ahead and try this simple solution at home. Be gentle with those fragile scanners though. We all know they don’t come cheap!

written by blueskyandhardrock on 2012-12-27 #gear #tutorials #scanning #tipster #scanner #quickie-tipster #horizontal-lines


  1. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    You're right, from time to time, it's useful to clean the inside part of the scanner window... I had once some fungus developping inside the scanner, and like you, opened it and cleaned the window inside :)

  2. clownshoes
    clownshoes ·


  3. blueskyandhardrock
    blueskyandhardrock ·

    @vicuna the lines on my photos really annoyed me and saw that others had the same prob so I thought I had to share :D
    @clownshoes thanks

  4. blueskyandhardrock
    blueskyandhardrock ·

    @vicuna the lines on my photos really annoyed me and saw that others had the same prob so I thought I had to share :D
    @clownshoes thanks

  5. bluegoo
    bluegoo ·

    I believe the lines come from dust specks on the scanning element. Having a speck on the underside of the glass that the negatives are placed on wouldn't explain a perfectly straight, ever-present line on your scans. I have had this problem too, found out how to take the top off, and once I did, shined a flashlight into the scanning arm and could see the offender. I blew out the speck and after that, perfect scans.

    When you turned your scanner over, you may have made that piece of dust fall off due to gravity. So, maybe one first step solution is to simply turn the scanner over, then turn it right-side up. Run some scans and see if the problem persists, then move to taking the scanner apart.

    The problem with taking it apart is you stand the highly probably risk of introducing even more dust into the machine.

    Hope this helps!

  6. blueskyandhardrock
    blueskyandhardrock ·

    @bluegoo exactly what I said in the article! Thanks for corroborating the tipster.

  7. spookydirt
    spookydirt ·

    Just got some Scanned (but not printed) pictures back, with those same lines - mainly a big red one - on most pictures. So that'll be the shop's scanner? Time to try out my negative scanner, then...

  8. blueskyandhardrock
    blueskyandhardrock ·

    @spookydirt sorry to hear that. Lines are most annoying. Check your negatives if those red lines are visible on them. If not, then most likely it's the lab's scanning equipment. Either way, it's def a great idea to start scanning your films on your own. You'll have more control over the results. Hope it helps!

  9. spookydirt
    spookydirt ·

    @blueskyandhardrock if the next lot come back with lines it'll be the shop, otherwise they are artifacts of cheap plastic gakkenflex lens. I'll see how it goes.

  10. adash
    adash ·

    LOL, I remember having the same on the whole roll from the lab. It happened to be a dust speck on the professional scanner (the type that sucks a whole roll at once).

  11. megzeazez
    megzeazez ·

    Wow!!! I always wondered what those weird ugly lines were!! Now I need to go back through my old negatives and re-scan some amazing shots that I thought were ruined. THANK YOUUUU for this tipster!!

  12. blueskyandhardrock
    blueskyandhardrock ·

    @adash that sucks that a professional scanner has this problem. prof labs are supposed to deliver quality photos. @megzeazez you're so welcome. glad to help!!!!

  13. robotmonkey1996
    robotmonkey1996 ·

    Pfft why on earth would you scan a PRINT?

    The negs can hold up to 7 gigabytes of information, a print carries about 5 mb.

  14. blueskyandhardrock
    blueskyandhardrock ·

    @robotmonkey1996 who said anything about prints? Read first please before you comment. Thanks.

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