Tuesday, January 19, 2016


One of the things I miss most about my film capture days was the marvelous grain I could get with TRI-X or my favorite T-Max 3200 pushed to 6400 ISO; now that was grain!

So, with this in mind I started to “digitize” some of my favorite color slides and B&W film to see if I could improve them post capture with the modern tools, like Photoshop, we didn’t have 40 years ago.

To speed up the process I used my Canon 5D MKII with the Canon, 100mm f2.8, Macro Lens and shot each neg and slide on my light table. There was a lot less clean-up using this method than our previous attempts at scanning my film; and the results in quality were quite good.  (I made a video on how to do this on my Light at the Edge YouTube channel ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3CyAq84vzw )…and in written form here in a past blog-March 3, 2015 http://http://www.goboist.com/2015/03/digital-copies-of-slides-and-negatives.html ).

So, getting back to grain, the image below is what I’m talking about…

Final version: Tone mapped in Photoshop using customized “Dramatic” Preset
This image of the famous funny car Chi-town Hustler, doing its signature 1/8th mile burn-out was taken in 1969 on TRI-X film. It was never grainy enough for me and it would be a few decades before Kodak would release my favorite B&W film (T-Max 3200) so this image had to wait until now to be fully realized.

Single image tone mapping in Photoshop is really hit and miss much of the time and the presets are often horrendous! But, I found that I could get some stunning results with two or three of them when I altered the parameters in “Depth”, “Detail”, and “Drama”, and was careful with “structure” so things didn’t get out of hand.

Original Negative

Postive Reversal
The images above show my camera capture of my original negative, on the top, and the positive done in Photoshop, bottom; using Image—>Adjustments—>Invert, to create a new positive.  You can see why I was not enthused with the positive as created. It’s flat and dull (lacking contrast) and the grain structure is too small for my taste.  So, it was a natural for the “Dramatic” mode in Photoshop’s Single Image Tone Mapping program! It did  take some tweaking of contrast and the black point to counter tone mapping’s tendency to tonally flatten images.  

It’s really been fun experimenting with the digital copies of my old Kodachromes, Ektachromes and B&W Negs in Adobe Camera Raw, Single Image Tone Mapping and NIK. It’s pretty much a dry version of the darkroom work we used to do, but on steroids!

So, take a look at the video or the blog version, transfer some of your own images and have some fun.  Should you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

“Till next week…

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman, Certified
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

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