Scanning prints for the APUG galleries?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by PeteZ8, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. PeteZ8

    PeteZ8 Member

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    Before everyone crucifies me for going all d*****l here, I'm asking because I want to share some prints in the Gallery here and I'm just not liking any of the scans I get of my lovely FB prints. I'm using a decent scanner (4990) and have reasonable success at scanning negatives, but I just can't seem to get a print scan that comes close to capturing the details and tones in a way that reflects what I have on paper.

    So for those of you scanning B&W prints and posting them here, what is your workflow? I'm using the Epson scan software and scanning in TIFF to give me the most flexibility. I just keep getting blocked up shadows or flat midtones; overall it just looks like crap. There are so many great scans in the gallery I'm hoping someone will share their secrets. Might I just have better luck photographing a print with a DSLR?
     
  2. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi pete

    when i preview, i grey the whole print out.
    i drag the sliders all the way to the right and left
    and the middle one to 1.0
    after it scans
    i just adjust the brightness/contrast or levels to match the print
    i always scan in color, and desaturate and tint to match the print.

    goodluck !
    john
     
  3. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    I'm using an Epson flatbed scanner as well. Use your levels before you scan and make sure you bring your highlights and blacks down. Basically once you scan you can always bring the contrast up to the appropriate level in PS but you can't bring back highlight detail if you clip the highlights when scanning. Same holds true for negative scanning. I also like to keep some border of the print. And after scanning I'll choose my highlight selector in levels and click on the paper base white. This helps alot with MGIV or coldtone paper prints, but not so much with warmtone prints. And then I'll use the levels to set the black. Sometimes there lower midtones and shadows are still a bit dark and I'll lighten then to match the print. As far as color, this is what I struggle with the most. Many times saturation and color balance adjustments are necessary to match the scan to the real print. Overall I prefer the look of a scanned print rather than a negative that is tinkered with in PS. But tinkering is still fun to find out whether or not an image is worth printing.

    BTW.. I hope the moderators DO NOT remove this thread from this site. This is a legit question and others will find this useful.
     
  4. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I use the same scanner and SW. As John suggests, I usually scan in color then covert to B&W in Photoshop, using channel mixer. For prints that are on warmtone papers, I keep them in color. I don't use any sharpening at the scanner, I usually set the exposure in the scan software to what looks best in the preview, then fine tune in Photoshop to get as close as possible to the print in overall look.
     
  5. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I use EPSON V500. EPSON's scanning software does pretty awful job in determining white point and the black point. It tends to place it well INSIDE the actual tonal range of the print. The result is loss of both highlight and shadow details. Because it happens at the capture time, even if you save it as TIFF, they aren't there - thus you won't be able to bring them out after the fact.

    My workflow is similar to John's except I do not put the white point and black point all the way to the edge. I scan into jpeg and select least compression. This is more of a trial and error process - not so outside of the actual range but leave some buffer. Histogram on the software does not appear to be all that accurate. (or maybe I'm reading it wrong?) Then open it with an old version of Element and touch up the tonal range.

    Not the best of method but works for me for very little scanning I actually do.
     
  6. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Scanning discussion in regard to getting print scans uploaded to APUG are AOK and always have been. There have been some people who have purposely tried to muddy the water in this regard. If you'll notice, the worst offenders are now quite mysteriously missing. That's all that is needed to be said on this subject, and let's please endeavor to keep the thread on topic.

    Regarding the OP:

    When I scan a my usual approach is to scan it with low contrast settings to capture as much of the range as I can. No black blacks, no white whites. After I have captured all the detail I can, I adjust the curve to best represent the actual print. I usually scan in color because a black and white print has a color, and I adjust this as well to be faithful to the print, which is what I view the galleries main objective to be. Very very few prints IME are actually bonafide monochrome.

    I have found fauxtographing to be the next best thing, and it's what I do for prints to large for the scanner. It's a lot easier than trying to scan pieces and stitch them, at least for me, that is.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2012
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I shoot them with a digital camera on a copy stand with strobes using standard copy techniques.

    Some people can manage to get good print scans with a scanner, but I think it depends on the size of the print and scanner, how flat the print is, and the paper surface. Some FB papers won't lie flat enough unless you dry mount them, and some surfaces seem more prone to artifacts when put into contact with the scanner glass, and if you print larger than the surface of the scanner, it may not be possible to scan the print in sections without damaging it, particularly if the scanner glass is recessed.
     
  8. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    Not sure it would apply to your scanner but with my cheap Epson I need to make sure the autoexposure is turned off. Else the highlights seem to be blown out. My software always seems to want to turn the autoexposure on by default and I have to make sure to turn it off.
     
  9. cantore

    cantore Member

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    I wanted to make a similar post but thought i would get booted for asking a scanning question! Since this topic is ok on Apug i will ask my question. What is the best way to get good detail when scanning the print for posting in the gallery? Should i scan it at 1200 and then re-size it for upload to the gallery or would there be no difference if i just scanned it at 200?
     
  10. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    My 2c - my experience (graphic arts business) is that, like analog image capture, you are fitting a range of values (and colors) into the range of another medium, which, in this case has 256 values, including both ends. In analog film work, you do this by finessing expose and development, as is discussed at length on this forum. The same is true in scanning - you are fitting a range of tones into a file. The closer you come to filling up the range of 256 values, the better the separation you get between adjacent mid-values.
    So - my approach is to scan manually (I use the Epson SW with a 4990 also) set the sliders in the levels to just include both ends, with a small amount to spare (the densitometer tool can help with this). Then I scan to open the file directly in Pshop, tweak the end points, and adjust the curve if needed for middle values to the print, and save in Pshop. Also, remember that you are adjusting mid tone values for your display, so, when others are viewing your work in the gallery, they may not see what you are seeing anyway.
    Cantore's last question - I like to scan for 300ppi at the print size, or slightly larger, then resize the scan later to APUG gallery guidelines.
     
  11. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    If you're scanning to post online, what is the difference between scanning a print at say 300dpi and resizing, versus simply scanning the print at 72dpi? Also, is screen resolution actually 72dpi, or is it 96dpi?

    This is an interesting thread, as I've posted about this very question in the gallery on several occasions. My scans look so bad I've actually recently deleted all my gallery images and stopped posting images altogether. I don't even own a computer, so I scan prints at my parents' house and they have a bottom end Epson and no photoshop or anything, just the software that came with the scanner. I have actually seen a small number of print scans in the gallery that looked quite good, but it's only a handful.
     
  12. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Michael - the answer to your question can be a long one, and probably mostly off topic for this forum. I'll try to be brief.
    Higher res scan = better image, even if Pshop re-resolves to lower PPI for web (Pshop might do a better job than the Epson SW). Then, later, when you want to submit to another show, gallery, etc, you can re-resolve again (without rescanning) to their requirements, if greater than APUG's.
    I've never been on the DPUG site, but you can probably find out more there.
    With more and more exhibitions, competitions, etc requiring digital submittals, it's becoming harder and harder to avoid at least a basic understanding of this. Like many, I have mixed feelings about this.
     
  13. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    I got 2 cents to add.

    I don't scan negs for the APUG gallery. I scan 8x10 prints. My scanner is the Epson 4990.

    The preview scan is cropped to the image with no border. My thought is the border will add non image white to the overall balance. I remove Epsons' presets and scan at 560 dpi.

    In my Photoshop Elements (Not real Photoshop) I change the mode to Gray-scale.

    I use the auto contrast function which 99 out of 100 times serves me fine.

    I re size the dimension to 8 inch hi and let the width fall where it may.

    Then I begin a reducing process suggested by JD Callow a few years ago:

    Unsharp masking: At the 560 I set % at 50, Pix at 8, Threshold 5.
    Adjust dpi to 1/2: At 380 I set % at 25, Pix at 4, Threshold 10.
    Adjust dpi to 1/2: At 190 I set % at 12, Pix at 2, Threshold 20.
    Adjust dpi to 1/2: At 95 I set % at 6, Pix at 1, Threshold 40.

    With each adjustment you may wish to change you view to Screen Size.

    Go back to the Re-size box and set the Vertical dpi to 600.

    Save for Web and upload.
     
  14. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Well I'm totally lost now. I don't understand what anyone's talking about. But it's increasingly obvious why my print scans stink. And I don't have the equipment, nor the time to screw around with all this either. I think I'll just stay out of the gallery as far as my own work goes.
     
  15. clayne

    clayne Member

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    I use vuescan, scan on v700 at 2400dpi, use the post-scan reduction factor to bring the size around the 100mb territory and then adjust it back to reality in lightroom. I use the raw+dng output setting of vuescan.

    Always scan in color and never let the scanning software do anything with curves or sharpening. Treat it like developing a neg - don't let the scanning software make it "look good."
     
  16. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Michael,

    The common thread in all these replies (including mine) is to NOT let the scanner software auto-expose your prints. Set the range (the white point and the black point) either to extremes or wider than what the histogram shows then scan. Then, load the image into some type of photo editing software to adjust the image to taste.

    Give it a try. You can get pretty reasonable results.
     
  17. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Michael - some of these comments sound more difficult to understand when unaccompanied by context and jargon familiarity. PM coming.
     
  18. PeteZ8

    PeteZ8 Member

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    Thank you all for the replies. I apologize for not getting back to this sooner, I have been mostly away from the computer the last few days. I will give all of these a try next time I scan a print. APUG community comes through again! :smile:
     
  19. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Go into settings and turn the AUTO EXPOSURE further down or at minimum also will help.