Tipster of the Week: A Little Bit of Tweaking


We always raise an eyebrow or shiver in disbelief whenever we hear the words “manipulated” or “enhanced”, especially if it’s done differently from the ways of analogue photography. But we must admit these digital advancements became indispensable, and on the contrary, can do no harm for us as our Tipster says so!

Scanning tip – Extend your scan area by stouf

Discover how changing the scan area in your scanner’s software could change your life.

After reading chuo104’s weblog, where he was sharing with us his perplexity about scanning x-pros, I decided to share with you this scanning secret. The theme was already approached by breakphreak in one of his tipsters. A quite debatable question as it is about our sad dependence on a digital device, the scanner.

I am sure many Lomographers know this fact, but I still wanted to write this tipster in case some didn’t. We all agree that we should not digitally enhance our shots by post-processing them in Photoshop, or playing with the scanner’s software options, such as pushing the contrasts at the maximum… And we all also agree that the best and most enjoyable shots are the one that come out just perfect and don’t need any re-touch.

But, even if you disable all post-processing options in your scanner’s software, two automatic corrections are still taking place (I think): the automatic white balance and the automatic backlight intensity.

The problem with cross-processed shots is that the colors that are on the film have been shifted by the incorrect chemistries used, and that’s the point of cross-processing, right? But it gives problems to the scanner’s software because it cannot see anymore a true black or a true white to set its white balance.

So the idea is to show to your scanner a true black or a true white. How?
By extending your scan area further away than the frame of the shot. Yes, just draw a scan area (you know, this rectangle that you draw to tell your scanner what you want to scan) bigger than your shot and let some true black or white (depending on if your scanning slides or negatives) enter in the area. Sometimes, it won’t make a great difference, but some other times you’ll see your shots bursting in crazy x-pro colors! And this is not a digital enhancement; it is a way to correct the mistakes of your scanner, by showing it the truth (the real white balance).
This method also applies for over- or under-exposed shots. If for example you have an over-exposed shot, add some white in your scan area, the scanner is going to think “wow there’s a lot of white in this shot, I should reduce my backlight”. Furthermore, these points also affect results for black and white shots scanned as negative color shots.

Well… I’m not sure this is all very clear… So the best to do is to try it yourself, so go ahead and play with your scan areas!

written by stouf on 2010-01-31 #gear #tutorials #scanning #tipster #tipster-of-the-week #scan #x-pro #scanner #scan-area #scanning-x-pro #white-balance


  1. copefan
    copefan ·

    great tip - even the best scanners are not really great at scanning any types of negatives and this is a great tip for those having problems! Most epson scanners need colour correction or the auto tone hit as they don't process the film very well.

  2. lomosexual_manboy
    lomosexual_manboy ·

    Knowing ones scanner is a big step towards getting the best results you can possibly get. This is a great tipster to lead people in the right direction. Thanks stouf.

  3. falsedigital
    falsedigital ·

    Or you could just use VueScan and have full control over your outputs without having to beat around bushes.

  4. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    I often use this for x-pro, when I see that the scanner absolutely not recognizes the pictures. When looking at the negative the shot looks great, but when scanning the picture area it's not the same.... so we need to cheat our scanners software... This applies also to redscale shots, sometimes it doesn't come out red but more blueish... with a bit black border, the redscales find their real color again! :)))

  5. stouf
    stouf ·

    Yipee ! Thanks LSI ! And thank you guys for your great comments ! I'm glad your confirming the interest of this... I was a bit doubting... : )
    @copefan: I have in fact an EPSON 4490 !
    @lomosexual_manboy: thank you my friend !
    @falsedigital: wow ! I'm surely gonna take a look at this ! Thanks !
    @vicuna: Thank you for adding this ! As I never tried redscale I had no idea ! It's also useful for shots made with color filters...

  6. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    @vicuna: are you one of the insiders, now? :) faded to grey? :)
    @stouf: the trick you are describing is good for EpsonScan, not for the LaserSoft SilverFast, for example. And in general, as long as your negative is scanned, it is already digitally manipulated. If you'll cancel everything - then default algorithms apply and the results might be even farther then the scan with human intervention. I'd suggest to manipulate the image in whatever way that (drum roll) faithfully retails the analogue nature of the original image. The alternative would be to switch to the dark room and get offline :)

  7. nural
    nural ·

    This really does make a difference!!

  8. falsedigital
    falsedigital ·

    I'm telling you guys...vuescan is the way to go. It even has common presets for the most common types of films both negative and slide. I can't imagine going back to using default scanner software.

  9. falsedigital
    falsedigital ·

    I'm telling you guys...vuescan is the way to go. It even has common presets for the most common types of films both negative and slide. I can't imagine going back to using default scanner software.

  10. kingnate
    kingnate ·

    Sigh, all this scanning stuff makes me sad and frustrated. I recently realized just these very facts, that my photos were being digitally manipulated without me even knowing. I will try this tip though! Thanks Stouf.

  11. ipdegirl
    ipdegirl ·

    @breakphreak --totally agree. my philosophy on scanning is this: i never do anything more to the shot than i could in a chemical darkroom. if it's something i could only achieve through digital manipulation i don't do it.

  12. stouf
    stouf ·

    Very well said @breakphreak and @ipdegirl ! So there would be an acceptable amount of manipulations used to correct the scanner's imperfections ? But this raises the subjective question of what is an 'acceptable amount' ? And... if we recognize this fact, we then face a possibly schizophrenic behaviour when uploading a shot to this site, and we read 'photo not digitally manipulated/enhanced'... Maybe it should be 'photo not digitally enhanced', if a few manipulations are acceptable... But I'm afraid this doesn't frees us of the subjective question of the acceptable amount...

  13. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    @stouf: you are absolutely right. There is no such well-defined bar that will divide the manipulations space into two fair domains: justified manipulations and the rest :) This is all about fuzzy logic. Just use your intuition and keep in mind (for example) that many kinds of masks, color filters and sometimes even contrast can be very well reproduced in the dark room. What is top important is to retain the analogue character of the film no matter what you do. Maybe another tip on that? :)

  14. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    huh... just wondering when some notifications will be utilized in the messaging system, so we'll know that someone else just replied in the thread :)

  15. woodoldskool
    woodoldskool ·

    Frankly, MY opinion is to have the film scanned at the lab, at the time of developing. Most labs will only charge 2,3,4 dollars to for a high res scan while it's still in the lab, uncut it's really easy and quick for them. BUT you need to tell them "no corrections" density, color, sharpening etc... any good lab will understand you, and actually it's much easier for them because it means less work too! And they have (any decent lab) better cleaning equipment than you. NO DUST.
    This comes from someone with 20 years of Lab Management, including Pro Labs. Take what you will from it.

  16. mikahsupageek
    mikahsupageek ·

    great tip stouf =)

  17. isoterica
    isoterica ·

    Excellent tip. The same would apply digitally if you were taking photos, to point your sensor/lens toward a darker or lighter area to adjust your balance before panning the lens back to your subject so that you don't get under or over exposed images. Here it applies to achieving the desired color by offering your scanner true black and white so that it can set a more accurate balance. Thank you for this! When I get a scanner and start scanning it will come in most handy.

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