Monthly Display - October 2022 - Page 1 (of 5)

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Monthly Display - October 2022:


New Scanned 35mm Film Photographs,
taken at Hallett Cove Conservation Park


Lately, I have been doing a lot of 35mm film scanning, after purchasing a new film scanner with excellent hardware and software. I have around 100 sets of 35mm colour film negatives, about 70 sets of 35mm black and white negatives, and a couple of hundred 35mm positive film slides, so this recent purchase was a good upgrade to my 'virtual darkroom'. I no longer take photographs using 35mm films, but I wanted to revisit the many photographs that I had already taken. The collection of my 35mm film negatives includes my photographs from my trip to Europe in 1998 (The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Germany), trip to Italy and Greece in 2002, trip to Kangaroo Island, trip to Port Lincoln, Whyalla and Cowell, trip to Perth in 2000, several trips to Sydney, trip to the Clare valley region, as well as several trips to the Hallett Cove Conservation Park.

In years gone by, I used to have a real darkroom for processing 35mm black and white films and prints. I remember spending many late nights processing films and prints. It is much more pleasant now, processing photographs on my computer from using digital camera images. Now, I can also look at processing some of the 35mm film photographs that I have already taken, and get comparable results to those from good digital cameras.


Scanned 35mm negative, taken near the entrance to Hallett Cove Conservation Park in 2000.

This month's display is a small selection of photographs taken in the year 2000 at Hallett Cove Conservation Park, a region of native coastal land south of Adelaide. The park has a number of interesting geological features, and has a marvellous atmosphere of freedom about it. It is a favourite place for me to go to and walk around in. It has well constructed walkways and interesting scenes everywhere. The landscape feels raw and free, and ancient, yet very much immediate. It is pleasing that such an area of land is kept in this way, instead of just letting developers destroy it so they can extend suburbia over it. The park is surrounded by suburbia, but fortunately, when one is inside the park, it feels like one has gone to a very special place.

Many of the photographs I had taken at this park, such as the one shown above, were taken using 35mm film. When looking at the various scenes I encountered live there, I saw very nice combinations of tone and colour, and hoped to capture these things with my photographs. Typically, I would take my 35mm colour photographs to be developed and processed at a professional bulk photograph processing lab. However, when I saw the resulting prints, I was generally disappointed.

A typical example of one of the prints I received from the processing lab:


Flatbed scan of original print
(adjusted to more accurately indicate the print's resulting colours and tones).


I could see from the processed negatives that they contained much more tonal range information than the prints showed. I tried scanning the negatives using an inexpensive 35mm film scanner and found a vast improvement in dynamic range:




35mm film photograph taken in May 2000
(reproduced by scanning with an inexpensive film scanner, and manually retouched)

This was certainly a vast improvement on the prints I had been getting back. Note that the sky now shows clouds and colour information. The shadow regions are not as dark as they were, and show good colour information. One aspect of this process that does not show here is that the resulting scanned images contain many distracting artifacts from dust and scratches that are on the 35mm film negatives. With the above example, I have spent a considerable amount of time retouching the entire image.

In 2010, I acquired an Olympus E-30 Digital SLR camera from my father. I found that this camera captured much better results than the 35mm film photographs I had taken. Part of the reason for the improved photographs came from capturing the photographs in 'raw' format and processing them afterwards on my computer using Olympus Viewer 3, or Adobe Camera Raw. This way, the exposure, contrast, white balance, and colour saturations could all be tweaked (within limits). Also, there weren't the same problems from scratches and dust spots over the image (although dust on the sensor can cause different resulting image problems).



Digital photograph taken in 2015 with an Olympus E-30 DSLR as a RAW image, and developed using Adobe Camera Raw.

Wow! This was such an improvement!

This camera and development seemed to be capturing the relationships I got excited about when seeing them for real at the park. Even though this image (and many others taken in full sunlight) was excellent, the Olympus E-30 camera had a number of problems, especially when photographing subjects in light that was anything less than full sunlight.

I now use a Sony A6000 digital camera, and capture my photographs using RAW files, so that I can control the resulting processed photographs' tones and colours.

All of this month's images (apart from the image shown immediately above) were taken as 35mm film photographs (back in about the year 2000), scanned with a new Plustek 8200i film scanner, and processed using Silverfast software. I have become excited about scanning my many photographic negatives in a manner that gives similar control over the tones and colours captured as digital cameras can achieve (when processing their images from RAW image files).


35mm film photograph taken in May 2000
(reproduced by scanning with my new film scanner, and having the dust spots and scratches removed automatically)

After purchasing my new scanner, I returned to the same negative that I had scanned earlier using my inexpensive scanner, to see how the new scanner processed the same negative. This result was much easier to achieve than the scan using the less expensive film scanner.

I can remember that with the less expensive film scanner, I would often need to experiment with various settings of film brand and type to find a processing profile that gave a satisfying result. With the new system, I have found that I can confidently get good results by setting the correct brand and film type used. This makes the scanning process much quicker, and feels a lot less 'hit and miss'.

The new scanner includes the ability to scan the surface of each negative using an infrared light source. This means that any surface scratches or dust spots can be captured for treatment using the software. As an indication, I present the next two scans of the same negative, taken in 1998 in Brugge (or Bruges), in Belgium.

The first scan was done using my inexpensive film scanner, and it shows several long scratches and many dust spots:


35mm film photograph taken in May 1998
(reproduced by scanning with my inexpensive film scanner. Note the dust spots and scratches)

The next scan was done using my new film scanner, with an extra scan done using an infrared light source for finding surface scratches and dust spots. The new software allows me to automatically correct these surface blemishes:


35mm film photograph taken in May 2000
(reproduced by scanning with my new film scanner, and having the dust spots and scratches removed automatically)

The automatic correction of the surface scratches and dust spots works very well, and leaves the scan looking more like a photograph taken using a digital camera. Note also the improved colour accuracy, thanks to a reliable colour calibration system and improved colour and tone correction within the software. The whole scanning process does take more time than for the inexpensive scanner (because of the extra layer of scanning using the infrared light source), but the automatic correcting is so much faster than manually correcting the scratches and dust spots (typically an extra 1.5 minutes for the extra scan using the infrared light source, as opposed to about half an hour or more of manual retouching).

The new system feels more like the processing of digital RAW photographs. This has been a valuable improvement to my 'darkroom'. I have found many 35mm negatives and positives that I want to scan and process well.



Hand Drawn Designs

First page of selected photographs

Designs Drawn Using Processing 3

Second page of selected photographs

Designs Drawn Using InkScape, page 1

Third page of selected photographs

Designs Drawn Using InkScape, page 2

Fourth page of selected photographs


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Monthly Display - October 2022 - Page 1 (of 5)