Film Scanning with Color Profiles in VueScan

2013-03-19 19.15.30

Dave from Shoot Tokyo
has been working on his medium-format
film scanning technique
.  I commented
on how I manage scanner and film profiling in VueScan
and he asked for more info.

Someday I may write a general introduction to VueScan, but
for today I am assuming that you have the basics down.  I highly recommend the VueScan
as a starting point.

For slide film (positive) profiling you:

  1. Obtain color
    slide(s) in your film(s) of choice
  2. Scan the color target slide using your scanner (no need
    to save)
  3. Use the Profile Scanner function (it will require
    the data file that came with the target) and save the profile with a
    descriptive name (in case you have multiple scanners and/or films)
  4. Use the resulting profile in the "Color | Scanner
    ICC profile" field to base the color of future scans of this film

This results in slide scans to be very true
to the original as viewed on a light box. 
Of course, if the color cast in the slide is off you will need to correct it later (Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.).

For color print film (negative) profiling you:

  1. Obtain color target in your slide film of choice or a printed target
  2. Take a photograph of said target using your film camera
    & negative film of choice under normal lighting.  Use even or diffused mid-day sunlight or flash.
  3. Process and scan the negative film frame with the color
    target (no need to save)
  4. Use the Profile Film function in a similar
    fashion as above, feeding it the data file for the color target you took the
    photograph of
  5. Use the resulting profile in the "Color | Film ICC
    profile" field to base the color of future scans of this film

This results in negative scans to be very neutral and consistent in color. Again, if the color cast was off in the shot to begin with it will still need some correction.

I used my Nikon F6, a macro lens, and a slide copying adapter to shoot a Fuji Provia 100F slide target.  You can probably make use of any camera-lens with decent close focus ability to shoot a printed color target.

Using a neutral target like Provia for profiling Kodak Portra 400 shots produces very natural results. 
I tried a Velvia target for fun (which has very saturated colors) and the resulting profile was wonky and
"not Portra like".

This process is a bit of a hassle to setup, but once you have the profiles in place you can save a lot of time by reducing your "normalizing" color correction work.

A Very Forward Ship

Nikon D300, AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6

This is another shot from my 2010 visit to Oslo.  The statue is of  Fridtjof Nansen standing in front of his creation, the icebreaker Fram or "Forward".

A who's who list of explorers used this ship in the last 19th and early 20th centuries including Nansen and later Otto Sverdrup exploring the arctic and finally Roald Amundsen exploring the south pole.

It was restored in 1935 and continues to stand to this day in the Fram Museum in Oslo.

Moody Oslo Waters

Nikon D300, AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6

I am finally getting around to bringing the photos I took while on a business trip to Europe in the Fall of 2010 into Lightroom and Flickr.

I spent a week or so in Oslo and a few days in London.  I had borrowed my Dear Sweet Wife's D300 for the trip and had a Saturday in Oslo as well as a day off in London to do some photography.

The weather was on the grey side while I was in Oslo, they were getting some of their first serious snow of the year.  Even though the light and colors were a bit drab I like the mood I was able to achieve with the above shot.

For Distant Viewing

Nikon FA, Nikkor Ai-S 50/1.8, Kodak Portra 400

I shot several rolls of film over Thanksgiving and just got around to scanning & processing the last one.

There is always a backlog of processing to do in the new year, as the combined holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas create a lot of photos as well as plenty of other activities to keep one busy.

One top of that my DSW also gave me a new Win 8 PC as a present (to replace my aged Vista box) which took several weeks to transfer over to.  But I am back in the swing of things now and enjoying faster scanning and Lightroom performance.

Happy New Year & Hello 2013


Nikon FA, Nikkor AF 24/2.8 D, Fujicolor Natura 1600

Happy New Year everyone!

2012 was a busy year for me, but also a fantastic one.

There are many highlights both personally and photographically, but I have to say that our family vacation to Japan during the summer was the high point in both regards. (And my DW agrees.)

Looking back at my resolutions last year I think I did a pretty good job streamlining my photography work flow. I incorporated Adobe Lightroom, improved the automation in my film scanning, and can get more images from film to on line (or print) with less effort than before.

My other resolutions didn't advance so much, but life wouldn't be fun without room for improvement! (ahem…)

Looking forward to 2013 my photographic resolutions are to:

  • Experiment more with medium format
  • Try developing my own B&W film
  • Post more often, but keep them simple

I think I try to write too much at times, so I will work to increase the posts, pictures and fun while reducing the complexity.

I wish you and yours the best in 2013!

Backlit Bottles

Nikon FA, Nikkor Ai-S 50/1.8, Kodak Portra 400

Christmas preparations are well underway in our house.

As my Dear Sweet Wife points out, we have plenty of wrapping left to do.  There are also some last minute packages still on the way.

But at least we have ordered and shipped everything, that is when I feel like we are closer to being ready than not.

The above shot was taken while waiting three hours (yes, three!) to ride the Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure over Thanksgiving.

They had one room you walked through in the labyrinthine line which had vintage oil botttles embedded in its wall with both sides exposed.  From the inside of the building the bottles literally glowed from the outside light passing through them.

While it was a great ride (coming from a Dad of 7- and 4-year-old boys), I think next time we will plan a visit during a less busy day…

I have two Voigtländer rental lenses on the way to me from LensRentals for use with my Nikon SLRs over the holiday.  They seem to design nice, compact, metal manual focus lenses and I have read good things about their build quality and results.

I will shoot my Christmas and New Years activities with them and then report back on my impressions.

Adobe Lightroom Folders


The second topic I will touch on for using Adobe Lightroom 4 is the use of Folders.

Last time I introduced Catalogs, the database files which store everything that you do in Lightroom.  The foundation for the Catalog and your editing is the set of Folders and the images held within them.

When you import images into Lightroom you are essentially bringing their parent Folders with them.  You can choose to import one, some, or all images in a folder, but in any case the folder itself comes with them into the Catalog database.

Pretty much everything else that you do in Lightroom is "virtual" in the sense that it only exists within the realm of the Catalog database.  But the Folders you have are your true links to the physical (which drive) and logical (where on that drive) location of your base image files.

My Lightroom Folder strategy is very simple:

  1. Create new folders for each roll of film I scan or digital series of images (ex. one day or event of shooting)
  2. Name the folder on the disk in the format "yyyy mm dd topic camera film" where the day and film are optional (see above screenshot)
  3. Keep the folders in one of two places: initially a local drive Library location, and then once my edits and online publishing are done I move it to a Library location on my network storage drive

You can freely move your Folders around on the drives of your computer, network storage, etc.  However, when you do so Lightroom indicates via greying out the folder name that it has lost track of where it is.

When that happens simply right click on the folder in Lightroom, select "Find missing folder…" and the browse to and select its new location.  This will update the Folder and all images within it to its new location and is pretty painless.

I keep my Folder strategy to essentially a linear timeline of rolls/shoots, even if the images in those folders are split into multiple purposes.  My next topic will be Collections which is really where all the magic happens in organizing your images inside Lightroom.

Spaced Out Toes


Mamiya RB67 Pro-S, Mamiya-Sekor C 90mm/3.8, Ilford XP2 400 Super

Here is another image taken with my "new" Mamiya RB67 medium format film camera.

The level of detail captured in a 6×7 negative is absolutely astounding. You can't tell from this scaled image, but looking at the full resolution version you can actually see the individual rows of "toe prints"!

(I better not post the full image as it could be used as evidence against my son!)

There is something really special about looking through a large waist level viewfinder. I really feel more like I am seeing the image as it will be captured on the film for some reason.

That being said, it is pretty slow going using the RB67 due to its size, weight and bellows focusing. It's large negatives (with fewer frames per roll) are also overkill for family shots or just playing around.

While I could see myself trying more portrait and macro work, I don't think I am going to be running around with this as my day-to-day camera.


Beauty And The Beast

taken with Mamiya RB67 Pro-S, Mamiya-Sekor C 90mm/3.8, Ilford XP2 400 Super

My last post contained a clue hidden within the negative I was examining: I received two additions to my camera collection for a recent birthday and both were involved in that shot.

One new camera was in the picture, and the other was used to take the picture.  Despite both being vintage film cameras, these two could not be any more different.

The "Beauty" is the above Rollei 35 S, one of the most compact 35mm film cameras ever.  There are others that may be a hair smaller, but none with the same kind of classic styling.

The "Beast" is a Mamiya RB67 Pro-S 6x7cm medium format camera.  This is about as large and heavy as a medium format camera gets, clocking in at over 5 lbs for a standard lens setup.

To put them more into perspective, the Mamiya weighs about 8 times as much as the Rollei, and you can virtually fit the whole Rollei inside of the Mamiya.

I have put several rolls of film through both cameras and they are in good shape.  I think the Mamiya needs some new light seals and perhaps a cleaning, but both cameras have taken up positions in my "active lineup" of shooting cameras.

A big thanks to both my DSW and my Father for the Rollei and Mamiya respectively.  Most of my cameras (whether in use or mothballed) have come from one of you!

iPhone Negative Loupe

Nikon D300, AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6

This is one of the most useful iPhone tricks I have latched on to.  It is so good it has made me skip getting contact sheets or prints on my last few rolls of negative film.

PetaPixel described how to use your iPhone as a quick and easy negative viewer.  It works like an absolute charm!

Simply enable the "invert colors" accessibility option and assign it to a triple-click of the home button.  Then while using any camera app you can triple-click the home button to magically turn any negative image into a positive.

It works well with both B&W and color negatives.  With color negatives the orange mask isn't perfectly translated but it is good enough to review the images.

This is both a time and cost saver if your workflow is oriented around digitally scanning your film.