I have a huge back catalogue of images shot on film that fill my study at home. Four metal filing cabinets are full and so boxes and boxes of transparencies are piled up around the room as well. Every now and again I have a blitz on them to add to thePictureKitchen and for the last few days I have had my old iMac (on a stalk) working constantly with my Canoscan 4000US scanner. Every time I go past the computer I load another strip of four trannies and press scan.
I use Vuescan software from Ed Hamrick and have updated the version I use regularly over the years as it has got better and better. It is now totally brilliant and produces excellent scans from a variety of film stock and best of all the dust and scratch cleaning now works almost perfectly avoiding those tedious hours I used to spend spotting and repairing in Photoshop. I now process the results in Lightroom
and the few odd remaining blemishes can easily be handled by the heal tool. The colour Vuescan produces is so accurate that I don’t find any advantage in outputting the scans as raw files, and in fact output jpegs at 100%. As Lightroom makes no changes to its original files this works well and saves space and time.
Using ‘Clarity’ in Lightroom
The other really effective trick on scanned images in Lightroom is to selectively increase ‘clarity’. This works particularly well on food pics where there is generally an area that can benefit from having the detail enhanced but it helps in emphasizing the ‘hero’ area in any pic. Using the brush tool select your area, turn the automask option off and click ‘O’ to highlight the area you have selected. Click ‘O’ again so you can see what you are doing then slide the clarity setting until you are happy.
Shooting Gordon Ramsay!
I used the clarity trick on this pic of salmon being got ready for steaming by Gordon Ramsay. He was rushing around his kitchen and I was working under pressure to catch each important moment. The client (in about 2002) still wasn’t accepting digital files and it is one of the last jobs I shot on film. I had to handhold the camera as there wasn’t room for a tripod or lights while Gordon and his team, plus client editor and art director, my assistant and I jostled for space around his huge cooking station.
It was necessary to shoot wide open to avoid shake (no vibration reduction then) and I used prime lenses on my Nikon F90x
The result is that the stream of olive oil is pin sharp as is the back area of the salmon, but looking at it now, with more experience of all the additional control that digital and new cameras give, I wish the depth of focus on the salmon was a little greater. Using Lightroom with clarity has appeared to put some information back in!