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    Tuesday
    Mar052013

    The iPhone 120 Film Scanner, Difficult Negatives and Digital Retouching

    I am a traditional photographic printer, meaning that I like to make prints in the darkroom. Unfortunately, it isn't always practical or quick to produce work this way.

    Testing the iPhone scanner setup, I see that many negatives that would normally be deemed difficult to print in the darkroom because they are too thin (underexposed) or too dense from overexposure, can be easily and quickly retouched in Photoshop. (At least on the desktop. See my notes below about the iPad experience)

     

    An underexposed 120 film negative shot during an overcast day in Beijing, China

     

    The original negative scan inverted. 

     

    Retouched image.

    All the image are clickable to larger sizes.

     

    The digital retouching was done on a 3rd Gen iPad using various programs, but somewhere along the way, the image lost some resolution. Probably in Sketchbook as the app resized the image to it's maximum or default. Sketchbook was used to spot the image, a process remarkably similar to spotting a silver gelatin photographic print. In the future, for work which will be output to digital prints, they will be retouched on a desktop computer and a full version of Photoshop CS6, in order to more easily spot, retouch, and refine the images while holding onto the maximum resolution. I hope the experience will become better on the iPad as new apps and tools are added that make retouching easier. For now, it is an exercise in patience.

     (iPad apps used: Photoshop Express, Sketchbook Pro (for spotting), Photoshop Touch) 

     

    Sunday
    Mar032013

    iPhone (Smartphone) 120 Film Scanner, Version 2

    iPhone Scannner, Ver 2 in action.

     With Beseler negative carrier in place.



    White plastic diffuser in position.


    The 160 LED video light source  placed in the base.


    The iPhone Scanner , Ver 2.

    Each image is clickable to show a larger version.

    The second version of the iPhone 120 film scanner was completed today. It is the same basic design as the first, but I wanted two more things from this new design. Since most of my negatives are in 120 format, I wanted a dedicated platform that maximized the scan for that size. I also wanted an independent light source for the scanner because using a light table isn't very convenient, and sometimes there may be horizontal line patterning from fluorescent light tube flicker. 

     The scanner is built with a closed base. The closed base is the platform for an inexpensive 160 LED video light. Two levels of supports were added to the inside walls. The first one supports a piece of white translucent plastic that acts as a diffuser for the light. The second support is higher and is for the Beseler 23IIC negative carrier. The negative carrier is ideal to hold the negative flat, easily reposition the negative under the camera, and to be able to quickly switch to a new negative. In order to accomodate the negative carrier, a notch was cut into the side of one of the supports. The negative carrier handle that sticks out the side serves to reposition the negative without having to move the camera.

    Plans for iPhone Film Scanner, Version 3 are already in the works. As this version took shape. I noted places where slight changes could be made so that the scanner could be used for multiple formats. The goal is to be able to scan everything from 110 film to the 6x12 format of the Lomography Belair.

    The light panel is available on Amazon (about $30USD) and is the:

    Chromo Inc. 160 LED CI-160 Dimmable Ultra High Power Panel Digital Camera / Camcorder Video Light, LED Light

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009HU6RI8/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Wednesday
    Feb272013

    Photos: Scanned with an iPhone

     

    I've been scanning lots of images in the past few days and I am very happy with the ease of scanning and converting. I will be posting some of these images as I continue to digitize my new and old negatives.

    The above images:

    Seattle, WA 2008

    Holga 120N, Plus-X 

    Tuesday
    Feb262013

    iPhone 120 Film Scanner or How I Made an iPhone Stand to Digitize Negatives

     

    Inspired by the upcoming Lomography 35mm scanner and based on the previous test I did for digitizing 120 film, I put together a simple wooden stand to hold my camera over a 120 film negative that has been placed on a light table. I made masks for the negatives to hold the film flat and to shield the camera from flare from the light table. I made the stand to shoot my 6-12 negatives from my Belair, but a shorter stand for 6x6 and 6x9 negatives will maximize the scan for the smaller negatives. It would be more elegant to make an adjustable stand, but for now, the fixed height stands are very easy to make.

    After shooting several negatives, I found I needed to cover up the sides and the lens opening in order to prevent reflections from the overhead light from showing on the scan. I just used the same black card stock I used to make the negative masks.

    I plan on making another stand specifically for 6x6 negatives in order to maximize the scan size and resolution.

    Thursday
    Feb212013

    Using an iPhone (or phone camera) to Scan Your Negatives

    While I was shooting the negatives to illustrate my last post on the purple tint in my Tri-X negatives, I  decided to see if I could get usable digital images of my negatives using my iPhone. These were handheld, but they worked better than I imagined. I got the idea from the Lomography Smartphone Scanner for 35mm film that will be shipping a little later this year.

    I had my negatives on a light table and framed the negatives to maximize the size and took a few photos. I wasn't sure which IOS app could invert them, so I just emailed the photos to myself and then downloaded them on my desktop. I later discovered that Photoshop Express has an invert function. I am not sure if any of the other camera or special effect apps have that function. I know that Lomography will have an app for their 35mm smartphone scanner.

    I opened the negative images in Adobe Photoshop CS6 (although any version can handle the conversion to grayscale and inversion to positive) and converted the images to grayscale. After that, I inverted them. I added a slight curve for contrast and to deepen the blacks and open the highlights.

    I am mostly interested in previewing my images before enlarging them in the darkroom. Using my iPhone to make quick proof scans of a roll of film will also enable me to quickly put thumbnails of new photos into my image database, instead of waiting until I can make a proofsheet and scanning that. I am not planning to use this method for digital prints, but I think if I made a stand for the phone, and got a frosted piece of glass or plastic to place the negatives on, I could make decent digital scans for use here on the blog or perhaps for the 6x12 format Belair negatives which I can't print using my current enlarger. The maximum size I can print on my Beseler 23c are 6x9cm negatives.

    Below are a few examples. I am showing the negative image as they came off the phone, then the converted image. All are clickable to view a 800pixel wide image.