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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Max Depth Of Field

Stacking Ghosts • Film Scanners And The Year Of The Lion • Choosing B&W Print Media

Labels: ColumnTech Tips
A There are lots of reasons to delay editing and scanning old slides, chief among them being that it's much more fun to be outdoors taking new photographs! But purchasing a good film scanner is easy and inexpensive.

A few good current options are the Plustek OpticFilm 7400 at about $250, the Plustek 7600i SE at about $300 and the Plustek 7600i Ai at about $400 (plustek.com). Another set of film scanners comes from Pacific Image, including a new one for 120 film up to 6x12cm (www.scanace.com). Flatbed scanners give a pretty good scan, but with less dynamic range than a film scanner. If you purchase a flatbed scanner for film scanning, be sure it has a designated attachment for film scanning, a high dynamic range and a high native resolution. Apple computer users who upgrade to Lion (OS 10.7) no longer will be able to use Nikon Scan 4 software with Coolscan scanners. While I deplore Nikon's lack of continuing support for its products, some third-party options have even stronger capabilities, like SilverFast 8 (www.silverfast.com) and VueScan (www.hamrick.com).

Choosing B&W Print Media
Q I had a darkroom back in the '50s and '60s, but I'm just now getting serious about digital black-and-white photos. What photo papers generally produce the best black-and-white/toned prints?
D. Doughman
Via email

A Surface texture, weight (thickness) and color are the most important factors when choosing an inkjet paper for black-and-white printing. The toning is a function of the imaging software and the printer capability. Just as in the darkroom, the choices you make will offer a variety of creative results.

If you're looking for an artistic or painterly effect, a heavily textured paper may be the right surface. Another advantage of rough texture is that it can hide image flaws like excess noise or lower resolution. Very large prints are often printed on watercolor paper for this reason.

An interesting surface that works in a lot of situations is a semigloss or luster surface. It holds detail well, but is less reflective than a glossy paper and is a good choice if the image is going to be displayed in a frame with glass.

Glossy paper is designed to give maximum detail, making it the desired surface for printed images being used for reproduction, but not particularly aesthetic. A semigloss will also reproduce well. Beyond these basics, there are many variations in media, including canvas, metal and cloth.

I prefer papers in the 320 gsm weight range. The weight of the paper is important in the handling of the print, as well as in the quality it conveys when the print isn't mounted or framed. Thin, or light, paper tends to become flawed by crescent marks when handled; the problem is greater with larger prints.

Inkjet papers come in a variety of subtle colors. Enhanced white papers with brighteners in the paper are great for glossy images having lots of detail and a good tonal range. Whites and warm creams might be chosen depending on the nuances of the image.

Toning of the image once was a factor of chemically altering the silver in the print. In the digital photo age, we can color the black-and-white image any way we desire using our imaging software. Keep in mind that a cold tone probably won't look too good on a creamy, warm paper. The toning of an image can be done within Photoshop or using a black-and-white enhancing software like Nik Silver Efex 2 (www.niksoftware.com)).

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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