Digitizing old photographs, with camera

Joined
Jan 17, 2008
Messages
32
Location
Lincolnshire, England
I have been reading the article with interest as I embarked some months ago on copying a huge collection of negatives and then converting them to positives, with, in the early days not what I would call a great deal of success, however through a process of trial, error, frustration and experimentation I finally developed not only an excellent work flow, but one that produced in my honest opinion quite acceptable results when compared to the original photographs, in fact in some cases I felt that in the post processing I had in fact achieved superior results than the lab had in the original processing.
My equipment for this process is a Kaiser Copy Stand, a Kaiser Light Box, Nikon D3 and 60mm AFD Micro Lens. During my experimentation I also developed a slide in negative carrier to my own design and with the aid of two small plastic making companies who provided me with the material that I required, with it I created a fool proof negative carrier that is simplicity itself to use and certainly saves on the time it takes to load fiddly slide carriers of whatever manufacture. The cost by the way was about £1.50, not sure how that equates to Dollars!
My workflow is pretty straightforward, my NEFS are converted into DNG using the Adobe Digital Converter, then I take them into PS CS5 where I begin my work of processing to the final image, I have created a simple workflow for a number of my friends who now use the same process and all seem perfectly happy with their results.
Regarding copying photographs, I have also undertaken that task too, using the same setup, without the Light Box, instead placing a plain sheet of white vinyl on the base board, I use two Fuji plastic Tee Squares placed on the photograph borders to hold the image flat and in manual focus, as with the negatives I obtain focus and in Aperture Priority F8 take the photograph, again as a NEF File, then the procedure is as with the negatives without of course the need to convert from negative to positive. I have my Copy Stand near a source of natural light, in my case on a table near a bay window and use no other source of lighting.
With colour slides the Light Box is used as with the negatives, then the procedure is again the same.
I am unsure if the Pdf file I have created for my friends will upload to the forum site but will endeavour to try, if it does it illustrates the step by step process I use, and I am also attaching a worksheet describing each step.
May I finally add that I am not by any means an expert, I am just a photographer who enjoys the pleasure of his craft, and hoping that what I have produced here will prove of interest to those wishing to embark on copying negatives, photographs and slides to digital images, I just hope my files upload.
Negative Workflow – PS CS5

[1] open in bridge.

[2] open in photoshop.

[3] use the ruler tool to straighten the image.

[4] use the crop tool to crop the image.

[5] press ctrl i to invert the image.

[6] press ctrl m to open curves.

[7] click on the left eye dropper tool.

[8] click on the show clipping box.

[9] use the mouse to move the black slider triangle from the left to the right until the first black appears.

[10] click the eye dropper tool on the first black area that appeared.

[11] click on the show clipping box.

[12] click on the white eye dropper tool

[13] click on the show clipping box.

[14] use the mouse to move the white slider triangle from the right to the left until the first white appears.

[15] click the eye dropper tool on the first white area that appeared.

[16] click on the show clipping box.

[17] click on the centre grey eye dropper tool.

[18] click on a neutral grey, i chose the crash barrier in the foreground.

[19] in the curves box, click and place a marker in the centre on the line.

[20] now place another marker in the box above, again on the line.

[21] finally place a marker in the box below, again on the line.

[22] with the bottom mark active, use the down arrow key to adjust, i pressed it 10 times.

[23] click on the top marker and make it active and use the up arrow key to adjust, i pressed it 12 times.

[24] click okay on the curves box and image is read to be saved.
 

Attachments

  • Workflow.pdf
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Joined
Sep 12, 2007
Messages
851
Location
College Park, MD
Real Name
Kristin Rutkowski
I felt it opportune to share and even rant a little on my experiences in case they could be of use to you. Personally I think it important to document your old memories and even cut some dvd copies for other members of the family should something unforeseen happen to yours.

No matter which way you do it have fun and relive some of those memories. since we are not limited to 8 characters Don't forget to name the files something meaningful like names and approx date and place . I realize that you could put it all in the metadata/exif data but perhaps not everyone that gets a copy of your data will have photoshop or lightroom or other software that can read that imbedded data. A sample filename of mine might be ;

Thanks for sharing your experiences with this project!!
Yes, it is fun to go through the memories from the pictures. :)
And good tip about the naming convention!

If you are only scanning photos, not negatives or slides, you could use a camera and copy stand, but if you do not have all of the needed equipment and are on a budget for this "one time" project, I would suggest considering a flatbed scanner. I am dealing with this myself in light of the death of a family member, but all of the articles and posts that I have read basically say that a print tops out somewhere between 300-1200 ppi. Most put the figure near the former, but like to recommend 600-1220 in case you want to enlarge the image and do not want to try and "upres" it later on.

For example, you could pick up an Epson V39 for $80USD and buy VueScan for $40-90USD. This would allow you to make 48-bit tiff files. If you only wanted 24-bit files, then you could skip VueScan and use the stock Epson software. The V39 does not have the the same DMAX as the V600 or V800, so if that is important, then consider moving up to one of those models. It is something to consider, especially in light of Greg's experiences above.

Thanks for the input, Ken! I hadn't heard of VueScan, thanks for suggesting it.

Once I get all of these negatives into Lightroom, then the fun of cropping, adjusting, correcting, fixing and even more difficult, organizing begins. A lot of these negatives I don't know what year they were taken so I'm going through the strips trying to identify people, places, events that help establish an approximate date.

Yes, that does sound like the more difficult part!
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2007
Messages
851
Location
College Park, MD
Real Name
Kristin Rutkowski
I have been reading the article with interest as I embarked some months ago on copying a huge collection of negatives and then converting them to positives, with, in the early days not what I would call a great deal of success, however through a process of trial, error, frustration and experimentation I finally developed not only an excellent work flow, but one that produced in my honest opinion quite acceptable results when compared to the original photographs, in fact in some cases I felt that in the post processing I had in fact achieved superior results than the lab had in the original processing.

Wow, thanks for the detailed notes, Mike!! That's awesome that you've created a workflow and hardware that works so well for you. It's great seeing how others are doing this project.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2008
Messages
32
Location
Lincolnshire, England
Hi Kristin, that is a relief as just having the printout of the workflow is not as helpful as seeing each step in an image, thanks for getting back to me, I shall sleep easy now!!
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2008
Messages
32
Location
Lincolnshire, England
Attached are the negative holder I made, the side view illustrates the recess into which the negative is pushed, it is 1mm wide, this is to maintain the negative completely flat. The last image is my copy stand set up.
 

Attachments

  • (P (1648)-Negative Holder.JPG
    (P (1648)-Negative Holder.JPG
    107.5 KB · Views: 59
  • (P (1650)-Negative holder side view.JPG
    (P (1650)-Negative holder side view.JPG
    90.8 KB · Views: 58
  • (P (1651)-Copying set up.JPG
    (P (1651)-Copying set up.JPG
    202.5 KB · Views: 60
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Messages
1,203
Location
New York State
Nikon Scanners do still work but the NikonScan software will not run under more recent versions of Mac OSX.

Fortunately, SilverFast sells software which drives these Scanners and it is particularly effective if you need to scan integrally-masked (orange-coloured!) Colour Negatives.
 
Joined
Oct 25, 2007
Messages
4,634
Location
Potomac Falls, VA
I've been using the Nikon ES-2 kit for 35mm slides and negatives. I've done around 1000 slides and working my way through a box of negatives. The slides were a lot easier since they are a positive image. The negatives have been more challenging to get a proper white balance and exposure set. For the negatives, I'm tethering my Z7 to Lightroom Classic and having Lightroom apply a preset I created that changes the negative to a positive and applies white balance and exposure adjustments. It's slow going but I'm working my way through these.

I also have to covert film sizes other than 35mm - 110, 126, 127, 120, and others. For those, I'm using the 110 and 120 film holders from Lomography. The 126 and 127 film holders I'll probably get from Amazon.

Once I get all of these negatives into Lightroom, then the fun of cropping, adjusting, correcting, fixing and even more difficult, organizing begins. A lot of these negatives I don't know what year they were taken so I'm going through the strips trying to identify people, places, events that help establish an approximate date.
I looked into getting the Nikon ES-2 kit but seems to be OOS everywhere, then I guess I would have to pick up a used 60mm macro.
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2007
Messages
851
Location
College Park, MD
Real Name
Kristin Rutkowski
I started with the intent to do this project with my camera. But I may be looking at an Epson scanner now (I still prefer to do it myself, rather than use a mail-in service), for ease and cost and space. Most of what I have are printed photographs, of many various sizes. The main purpose is just to digitize those old memories, not to reprint works of art.


Nikon Scanners do still work but the NikonScan software will not run under more recent versions of Mac OSX.

Fortunately, SilverFast sells software which drives these Scanners and it is particularly effective if you need to scan integrally-masked (orange-coloured!) Colour Negatives.

Good to know about software compatibility.
That book I was referencing from the start, http://thedambook.com/resources/, he also recommends SilverFast for scanning color negatives, he says it's better than Lightroom. (https://thedambook.com/dyp/colornegatives/)
 
Joined
Jan 12, 2018
Messages
999
Location
Puget Sound
Real Name
Ken
I started with the intent to do this project with my camera. But I may be looking at an Epson scanner now (I still prefer to do it myself, rather than use a mail-in service), for ease and cost and space. Most of what I have are printed photographs, of many various sizes. The main purpose is just to digitize those old memories, not to reprint works of art.




Good to know about software compatibility.
That book I was referencing from the start, http://thedambook.com/resources/, he also recommends SilverFast for scanning color negatives, he says it's better than Lightroom. (https://thedambook.com/dyp/colornegatives/)
There is a limit to what one can get from a printed photo, and most have found that to be somewhere between 300-600 ppi, with 1200 being the upper limit for those who want to enlarge images later on. Epson and Canon have a lot of choice depending on budget. What I believe makes a bigger difference (for scanning prints) is the software and how it is set up. How much do you want to post process an image and how much do you want done during the scanning process? And what do you want for your digital master? A 48-bit tiff that can be restored, a 24-bit jpeg to share with the family? Answers to these questions will help guide you to what makes the most sense.

--Ken
 

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