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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Make Your Best Black-And-White

B&W: Where To Start • Histograms In All The Right Places • Diffraction Ratings • Enhancements • New Film Scanners

Labels: How-ToColumnTech Tips
Q My wife and I are planning a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks this year. Some of the books I’ve read about photographing in these parks recommend using an enhancing filter without giving any specifics. My web research turned up many filters that enhance various colors; I’m particularly interested in emphasizing reds, greens and rusts. Do you recommend the use of enhancing filters and, if so, do you have any recommendations for a filter (or two) that would help my photography in these parks? I already have a polarizing filter.
J. Brady
Via the Internet

A The only filter of this type that I use—occasionally—is a polarizing filter that has a slight enhancing feature built in. This is the Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo, which combines an LB Warming Polarizer and an LB Color Intensifier (www.singh-ray.com). I feel that true enhancing filters give an unattractive magenta cast that isn’t necessary in the digital era when you can make any color improvements you want post-capture in the computer, with much more control.

There are two filters I frequently use for digital, both of which would be useful for your landscape photography at Yellowstone and Grand Teton. First, the polarizer darkens the sky and removes reflections, enhancements that are hard to emulate in the computer. But be aware that polarizing filters can cause unsharpness when used on telephoto lenses, usually beyond 200mm, and you should never use it when capturing a panorama sequence. I also use the Singh-Ray Vari-ND neutral-density filter. It gives me more control over shutter speed and exposure, especially when photographing flowing water, one of my favorite subjects found in abundance at Yellowstone.

New Film Scanners
Q I’ve been shooting for many years with film, and recently I made the switch to digital. I’ve converted some of my slides to digital images, but drum scanning is expensive. I was thinking that a way to reduce the cost was by way of a slide copier. What do you think? Is there one that you recommend?
H. Vazquez
Via the Internet

A For many digital photographers who worked in film in the past, scanning of 35mm slides and negatives is an essential task. Flatbed scanners are used by some photographers and are a good alternative for larger film formats, but aren’t the optimum solution for the smaller 35mm. My choice over the years for 35mm film scanning has been a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 and, for medium-format film, the Nikon Super Coolscan 8000/9000. Unfortunately, Nikon has discontinued the Coolscan series of scanners, so I went looking for an alternative.

Plustek (www.plustek.com) has stepped in to fill the void with a series of film scanners with higher resolution than the Nikons and many features that will help to capture all the color and sharpness in those 35mm images. Remember that your scanning workflow needs to accomplish more than the creation of a high-quality digital copy of a film-based image. Scanning is the time when you must also clean up any dirt, fibers, publication residue, fingerprints or scratches your slides may have picked up over the years. Bringing each slide to its utmost potential in the digital era will take some time. But the Plustek scanners give you a bit of a boost with an excellent software called SilverFast, which helps to eliminate any dust or scratches that might be present in your film images.

For information about upcoming seminars and digital-imaging workshops, visit www.georgelepp.com. If you have any tips or questions, address them to: OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER, Dept. TT, George Lepp, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025-1176 or online at www.georgelepp.com.


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