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    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.




    Film Processing: Purple-Pink Negatives - 400 Tri X

    As I recently have been processing my film, I've noticed that the negatives have a distinct purple cast. I wasn't sure what the problem was, and searching for the problem and solution on the internet, I've seen lots of different theories about it. 

    What it reminded me of, is the cast that TMAX has. TMAX negatives have a similar cast, and the solution to the problem is vigorous agitation during the fixing process, and an extended fixing time (4-5 minutes).

    In the image above, the "new" 400 Tri X is the top negative, and the older (now discontinued) Tri X 320 is below. You can easily see the pinkish-purplish cast.

    The image is clickable to a higher res version, if you would like to take a closer look.

    I have modified my fixing process to continuously invert my processing tank for 5 minutes, and that seems to have reduced the problem. The negatives still have a slight purple tint, but it isn't as pronounced or uneven as before.

    I think that Kodak has tweaked Tri X to include some of the same physical characteristics as TMAX. The purple pink tint might be the anti-halation coating they use on the film backing.

    By the way, the wide negative above is the 6x12 negative from my Lomography Belair. It looks good and I look forward to getting the scan done, which I will do by using my iPhone, but more on that later!



    Lomography Smartphone 35mm Film Scanner

    I participated in the Lomography Kickstarter project for the Lomography Smartphone 35mm Film Scanner. I am not exactly sure when they will ship, but I am looking forward to this little bit of high tech for digitizing my low tech photos.

    The scanner should become available later this year. You can sign up for notification about the scanner on the Lomography microsite.



    PolaDiana - A Diana and Polaroid Hybrid Camera

    I built this hybrid camera some years ago, but thought I had put the film plane of the instant film cassette too close to the back part of the Diana's film chamber, because when I tested it, the film was too tight and the film couldn't be pulled out of the camera after it was exposed.

    Flash forward to now, and I was reading last night about the problems people are having with the Fujifilm Instant filmpack cassettes in Polaroid cameras.


    I suddenly realized that I had tested my camera with the new Fujifilm, which I had never used before and hadn't heard about the problem with the design of the Fujifilm cassette.

    I read several solutions, including snapping off the spring arms or attaching bobby pins to the arms. It seemed to me the problem is that the spring arms are pushing directly on the part of the Fujfilm cassette, where they have put slots in the filmpack back that allow the Polaroid camera spring arms to apply pressure to the film inside the cassette.

    Guessing the solution was one of not allowing the Fujifilm pack "tabs" to receive the full brunt of the spring arm pressure, I used a thin aluminum plate from the cut off of a metal printing plate. I placed a 3" x 4" plate on top of the film pack.

    I didn't have any time to shoot with my hybrid, but took a quick shot outside my office window, and was thrilled to have the film pull normally, not with the tightness I remember from my first test.

    The PolaDiana camera is built with a vintage Diana clone, a Windsor F, and the back part of a Polaroid Big Swinger.

    What I like about this project, is that it incorporates two of my favorite things, a lo-fi camera and instant film photography!

    When I get a chance, I will post more photos from this hybrid.


    Rare Medium - a shop/gallery dedicated to the love of instant photography, art and creativity.


    I went to Rare Medium (http://raremediumseattle.com) for the first time. I needed some film for one of my Polaroid cameras, and they didn't have the type I needed at my usual photo supply store (Glazer's). I took the opportunity to go to Rare Medium, a store I've read about online, but hadn't actually visited in person. It was wonderful to see the cameras they had on display, as well as the art exhibit by Cameron McPherson.

    I was happy to see they had a full line of Impossible Project films on sale, as well as some original old stock Polaroid films. You can also find Instax film in their film fridge.

    11AM – 6PM
    1321 E Pine St
    Seattle, WA 98122