DSLR Film Scans
Ever since the #tbt hashtag came around, Thursdays have been nostalgic for me. I suppose it's no surprise, then, that I dedicate the extremely late Week 5 project to scanning in some old photos! "Scanning", in this sense, means using a DSLR, a macro lens, and a light table to accurately create digital negatives of old 35mm photos. They aren't perfect, and I don't have many shots to speak of (yet), but I learned a lot.
I also learned that, in the year 2000, I was not a very good photographer.
Maybe I'm being too hard on myself. After all, I took these photos in Canada with an enormously shitty disposable camera, which was probably $5 at the time. Either way, I guess we all need to start somewhere!
Anyways, onto the process! I dabbled in using my DLSR as a film scanner a few years back, but I wasn't able to get a consistently fluid workflow. Recently, I stumbled across this amazing little video tutorial by Jamie Maldonado and my interest was renewed. In essence, you'll need a light table (like this one), a homemade "frame" (a piece of black card stock with a 35mm-shaped hole in it), and a macro lens. So long as you shoot in RAW format (basically a file made of unformatted image data), you'll be able to have a TON of control over the initial image's color, white balance, contrast, et cetera. See the image of the setup below.
I don't have much experience with film scanners, but from what I've read, this method trumps most of them, save for the ones that cost as much as a Honda Civic. Although it took a good deal of experimentation, I soon found myself in a groove; it's merely about lining up the camera with the film, using manual focus very carefully, taking the shot, and onto the next one. I can imagine doing 3 or 4 rolls of film in under an hour.
The first step in post processing? Just invert the colors, turning the negative into a positive. From there, you can spend as little or as much time as you need to remove dust and scratches (whoever handled our film back in the day was an oaf -- these negatives are full of what looks like gouges from whatever processor was used). I noticed that, even with the camera on the warmest white balance setting, a lot of photos came out very blue -- nothing that Lightroom or Photoshop can't fix!
All in all, I really enjoy knowing that I can quickly and successfully digitize stuff like this, even if it was taken during a grey, rainy November week in Quebec. Or Montreal. Somewhere around there.
Finally, because I know you're all wondering -- yes, here's the obligatory #tbt shot of me. Next to a Porsche. Some things never change.