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  1. #1
    djklmnop's Avatar
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    Tips to Scanning for Proper Web-Display

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

    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!

    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, you’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 djklmnop; 01-30-2005 at 04:51 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: elboration.
    Money is not the problem. The problem is, I don't have any.

  2. #2
    djklmnop's Avatar
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    oops, I'll move this to the article section.
    Money is not the problem. The problem is, I don't have any.

  3. #3

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    Thank you for posting this. maybe My scans will get better now.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  4. #4

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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,
    Graeme Hird
    www.scenebyhird.com

    Failure is NOT an option! It comes bundled with your software ....

  5. #5
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    I have a basic scanning tutorial on my site that some may find helpful - particularly with respect to size reductions.

    Scanning Basics (my approach out of many possible)
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  6. #6
    Ole
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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!
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  7. #7
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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. #8
    Ole
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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!
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  9. #9
    thefizz's Avatar
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    Thanks Ole,

    I will give it a go.

    Peter

  10. #10
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    Hi Ole, I have downloaded IrfanView. Could you give me a crash-course on how to save for web?

    Peter

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