Tipster: How to Manipulate Your Film Negatives and Scan it with the DigitaLIZA+

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To be disappointed with some of our negatives — it happens to all of us. Perhaps they don't turn out to be the way we wanted or the composition is a bit off. For whatever reason, let's not despair. We can rethink our images and create unique pictures. Today we want to use our imagination and some simple tools to manipulate our negatives and alter the film.

The first step is to select the images that you want to modify. Go through your archive and look for those shoots that had potential but, for some reason, didn't make the cut to be part of your final edit.

What you'll need are simple tools:

  • Some double side tape
  • Scissors
  • Something sharp to engrave the film such as push pins
  • J-Board to inspect the negatives
  • Magnifier to inspect the negatives
  • DigitaLIZA+ to scan your negatives

We recommend using a macro lens as much as possible to get a better resolution of your scan. In case you can't access a macro, try with the highest focal point that your lens has.

Picture 1 double exposure picture 2-3 selected single negatives by Elisa Parrino

Double Exposures and Scratchy Negatives in Post-Production

There are two main ways that you can alter your negatives. One is creating some double exposures. A good image for this alteration is to shoot where there is an empty area that made the initial composition unbalanced. Then select another image that can counterbalance it by filling the space. Another good choice is to select a portrait and a texture. When overlapping the two images, you can create an abstract subject.

Another creative way to alter your film is by drawing on your frame. It sounds scary but, it can be highly creative and give a new life to your image. The engraving technique impacts your negative by taking the emulsion away. You are in fact scratching on the exposed silver halide crystals. It is a fun process, although it is a permanent mark that cannot be erased. You must remember to draw and scratch on the white shapes as those will turn dark, thus we will be able to see the contrast.

Picture 1 double exposure picture 2-3 selected single negatives by Elisa Parrino

Scanning Your Negative

The perfect tool to scan your negatives is our DigitaLIZA+. As you might have single frames that won't fit the machine or creating double exposures will require different negatives, the DigitaLIZA+ will allow scanning manually for each frame, without risking the jamming of any machine.

Simply, set the frames on the illuminating platform; then secure your negative between the frame. Then with your camera, take a picture. Once you have your digital image, proceed to edit in Photoshop. Another recommendation is to use a tripod with an extendable arm to allow a stable, perpendicular image.

Converting the digital file from negative to positive is a simple trick. First off is your curve panel, invert the axis and you'll see the image in positive. From there, proceed with your edit like you usually do. Adjusting contrast, highlight, shadows and, so on. Until you get the desired result.

Picture 1 engraved negative, picture 2 double exposure, 3 engraved negative, 4 double exposure, by Elisa Parrino

Old Frames, New Ideas

Going through the archive and looking at the picture, different ideas immediately popped into my mind. To me, this was quite a pleasure. I had the chance to enhance some pictures that I thought were lost and gave a new life to them. Manipulating your frames frees your creative license. I loved how they opened a new window and see what they were inspiring me to do.

It was galvanizing and enlightening to have a new perspective. By blending photography and drawing, you are expanding your photographic practice and artistic expression. This is a practice that I look forward to incorporating more often in my photography.


Have you ever manipulated your negative? Do you know of other techniques that you want us to review and try? Share with us your experience and don't forget to upload your pictures on our Lomography Community.

written by eparrino on 2022-03-09 #tutorials #videos #scanning #digitaliza #film-scanning #negative-manipulation #negative-alteration #crafty-negatives #digitaliza

Mentioned Product

DigitaLIZA 35 mm Scanning Mask

Hold your negatives in place through the innovative magnetic mechanism and easily scan special formats such as sprocket holes, endless panoramas and overlapping exposures.

View in Shop

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