Tips to Scanning for Proper Web-Display

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by djklmnop, Jan 30, 2005.

  1. djklmnop

    djklmnop Member

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    Don't get alarmed. This is not about "digital"! :smile:

    I've been looking through the gallery and I end up skipping a lot of great photos because of the way they are scanned and presented - they look flat, soft, or muddy! Now, I don't know if this it is really because the print is bad to begin with, but I usually assume it is because the print was badly scanned, rather than badly printed.

    I want to share a few things I've learned over the years with scanning that I can hopefully pass on to help those who are interested in preserving the subtle values (as best as the scanner can) that exists on the original print.

    I use a $20 flatbed scanner for my prints and people ask me, "wow, how do you get such great scans??". So here goes nothing!

    The key thing to a good scan is that you should scan at the highest optical resolution your scanner can do, that way it samples more of the detail. When you finally resize the scan, those details are preserved. I use 600 dpi on my 8x10.

    Scanning:
    First, what I do is preview the image. Off the preview, I make careful adjustments so it'll reveal detail in the shadows, midtones, and highlights. Another key to a good scan is value separation. Don't let one value sink into another otherwise it'll look muddy. Just like how an actual print should have great separation. Now the thing is, what you see on the preview doesn't neccessarily mean that the final scan will come out that way. So when I do my final scan, I check the results to see if the scan matches what I had intended on the preview.. If not, I redo the preview and adjust again. Even if the highlights look blown out on the preview, the actual scan may retain it (kind of like digital "drydown" HA HA). Rescan again, do this until you get the scan that looks right to you.

    Post-Processing:
    In photoshop, I go into Levels to adjust all the values to match the print as closely as possible. Sometimes I intentionally burn or dodge certain areas to make up for the scanner's lack of ability to pick up those subtle details that exists on the print. Be sure to pick which the value you're dodging (Shadows, Midtone, Highlight). The thing is, you're not really cheating merely because you're using Photoshop. The only thing you're doing is matching the scan to the print for presentation purpose. Nothing more! So don't feel like a traitor! :smile:

    Downsizing:
    Here's the part where a lot of people fumble. Everyone normally just downsizes the image and saves it. That is what makes for a soft scan!
    Before you downsize your image, what you need to do is a SHARPEN MORE. By doing this, this will ensure that more accutance is added to the image since downsizing also softens an image - SHARPEN MORE makes up for it. Once the image has been downsized, do a SHARPEN UNMASK, and use the following settings: 100%; radius: .3 to .4; threshold: 1. (radius controls the edge sharpness, and threshold softens the grain without effecting the edge sharpness). Voila, youÂ’re done! Or not...

    Extra:
    I usually apply a very light sepia tone to an image to make it look richer. You can do this by going to Image, Adjust, Photo Filter..

    Hope this helps. I look forward to seeing better scans!

    Andy
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2005
  2. djklmnop

    djklmnop Member

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    oops, I'll move this to the article section.
     
  3. mark

    mark Member

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    Thank you for posting this. maybe My scans will get better now.
     
  4. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    djklmnop, levels and Sharpen More are fairly crude tools, as are the dodging and burning tools.


    Maximum optical resolution scans are definitely overkill - 300 dpi scans of 10x8 prints are more than enough to display on the internet. Scan 10x8s at 300 dpi, work the image to suit the print and then resize using Image->resize to 600 pixels on the long side (roughly the maximum allowed here). (A scan at 300 dpi of a 2 inch print will give you a 600 pixel file. Scanning a 10x8 at 2400 dpi - my maximum resolution - will give me 24,000 pixel-wide file!)

    Curves give more control for contrast than levels do.

    Selections using the lasso tool, then feathered, then curves, give better local contrast control than dodging and burning.

    Unsharp mask is the preferred method for final sharpening, because it gives you control over how much sharpening is applied.

    Convert to sRGB mode in Image->Covert to profile allows the colour settings (including gamma) to be shown at their best on the net.

    File->Save Image For Web allows you to set the file size and embed the sRGB colour space, giving you the best possible picture for the internet (and this site).

    Cheers,
     
  5. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It is generally a good idea to do the final sharpening/USM after reducing to final size.

    The best resizing I have found so far is the Lanczos filter in IrfanView!
     
  7. thefizz

    thefizz Subscriber

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    Hi Ole,

    I don't have Photoshop and have no plans to purchase it. In order to upload photos to the web, would the Irfanview you mentioned be suitable for me.

    Peter
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes - I use Paintshop Pro for any "big" corrections, and then use IrfanView for the final resizing. Whatever program comes with your scanner is great for tonal adjustment, it's just that I'm used to PSP.

    At the price (free), IrfanView is a great program!
     
  9. thefizz

    thefizz Subscriber

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    Thanks Ole,

    I will give it a go.

    Peter
     
  10. thefizz

    thefizz Subscriber

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    Hi Ole, I have downloaded IrfanView. Could you give me a crash-course on how to save for web?

    Peter
     
  11. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    If you do use 'sharpen', you can adjust the degree of the filter by going into edit and using 'fade sharpen'. That works, (the fader) for a lot of adjustments in photoshop.
     
  12. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Resample (Edit->Resize/Resample) to the size you want. Remember to tick on "Keep aspect ratio", and select "Resample (better quality)", and pick Lanczos filter frm the menu.

    After that, Image-> Sharpen. Then adjust the colours with Image -> Enhance colours if needed.

    Then File -> Save as, select jpeg, tick on "details" and "Show options dialog". Save the file under a new name. Repeat, noticing the size of the file you just saved. If it's too big, use more compression. If it is far too small, use less compression.

    Since IrfanView is very fast, I find that even when I need four iterations it is quicker than one single "Save for web" in another program!
     
  13. djklmnop

    djklmnop Member

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    Its worth trying to do a Sharpen more or a regular Sharpen before you downsize. It all depends on the original image's size. The larger it is, the softer it'll be after downsizing.. On some images, I have to do a Sharpen More, then another regular Sharpen as well before downsizing. Then afterwards, I apply a Sharpen Unmask to finalize it.. I've attached a sample.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2005
  14. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Don't take much to confuse me, seems to me doing all this stuff would be "digital doctoring". I am simply an old smuck that has a computer and an old flat bed scanner. Frankly I have not been overly unhappy with the images I have been able to upload, they don't match my prints, but then they don't have any of the manipulations you folks are talking about.

    I guess 21st century photography and internet posting is beyond my grasp!
    I will however continue to plug along and do my camera/darkroom work just like I have been doing for the past 55 years. To me removing just one dust spot digitally makes the print something other than analog. Just my opinion!

    Let the flames begin!
     
  15. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I can certainly understand how you would feel that way, at first glance that is how it seems. However, whenever you decided to upload an image to APUG, you need to scan it first. Scanning software removes the noise from the image, making it softer. Then, since the scan is too big to upload, you have to resize the image (removing pixels) which can further soften the images. The unsharp mask - which is based upon the old darkroom technique of creating masks to sharpen an image - needs to be used to re-sharpen the image.
     
  16. argus

    argus Member

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    There's no problem with that, I think.

    If you want to sell prints on the internet, it is mandatory that they also look good on a monitor.
    Adding a message my pictures might look crappy on your monitor but the print is fantastic won't help anyone sell a picture online.

    G
     
  17. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I think the nice thing about opinions, Charles, is that they all have equal validity . . . as opinions. :wink:

    Personally, I think it's OK to make adjustments to a scan so it represents the original print as accurately as possible. Otherwise, comments and suggestions about the image are a useless exercise. It's the old "this scan doesn't look anything like the print, but please go to the trouble of providing a critique, anyway" situation. But, like you, I feel if I didn't take the trouble to spot the original print, I shouldn't remove those spots in the scan. Removing dust that was introduced in scanning, however, seems OK to me.
     
  18. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    On my monitor, the un-sharpened thumbnail attached looks better. For example, the numbers on the speedlimit sign look broken up and incomplete in the sharpened image.
     
  19. blackmelas

    blackmelas Subscriber

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    The first thing my scanner does is remove any tone from my image and turns the paper base border light yellow or light blue. It creates something that bears no resemblance to my analogue print. Any doctoring I do helps to cure the "digital sickness" of the scanner and helps me represent my analogue work as accurately as I can in the gallery.

    So let's cut the flame war BS, take some photos, print them, share them and talk about them...
    Best regards,
    James
     
  20. Mark_Minard

    Mark_Minard Member

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    Exactly. Any manipulation I do is only to make the "image" on the monitor resemble as closely as possible the actual photograph. FWIW, My flatbed scanner cost less than a hundred bucks and the Photoshop version I use is the "Business Edition," which came bundled for free with the scanner and is about as basic as you can get. All I need to do is sharpen the image a bit and adjust the contrast, and I'm happy.
     
  21. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    There is no such thing as an "unmanipulated scan." Every scanner has an interface, and the interface allows for certain choices to be made, most of which are implemented after the scanner does its work. Even if you just choose to use the auto-exposure function in the scanner interface, that is a choice, and you are allowing the interface software do the manipulation, rather than doing it yourself.

    I think the best we can do is trust that those who post images here will do their best to match the real prints (whether they scan from print or neg) or transparencies, and that those who are viewing these images will look at them as representations, and not as the real thing.
     
  22. Lydersen

    Lydersen Member

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    About the eternal apug.org digital nonsense debate

    This thread shows what a hopeless dilemma apug.org is dealing with. To even try making a purist "analogue" gallery/site on the www, which is a digital media, is completely nonsense to begin with. There are as many ways to digitalize a negative/print as there are members to apug.org. And every one of us have different limits as to what is "legal" operations in PS or any other DIGITAL photo manipulation software.

    I'm new to this site, but if you ask me, the idea must be that film is used in the first place - it has its distinct look and "feel" and captures light in a way that gives the final image, even after digital enhancements, an definitive edge compared to digital captures.This site should be an oasis for the film-lover, not the digital hater.

    Accept the digital darkroom; Every user of this site, even the most purist ones of you, depend on it. There are no ways around this fact. And stop trying to define what is acceptable PS behaviour and what is not. There are many ways to make an omelet...

    With analogue respect
    Lydersen
    Norway
     
  23. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Lydersen,

    Welcome to the forum. I think you are mistaken about the general feeling here. True, there are those that hate "digital", but there are also those who just see it as just another medium, and those in between. However, we all see this as a place to discuss "film", and we all just try to get along. Part of getting along is disagreeing; disagreeing sometimes means heated debate, but in the end we really do get along.

    IMO, digital "capture" equals mediocrity, which is the reason I don't do it. Which is why I am here.
     
  24. mark

    mark Member

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    Well now, there is fine intorduction. I suppose you have put your foot down about this. Were your hands on your hips as well as you scolded the children? :rolleyes: