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[filmscanners] Re: Scanning a foggy image

Oh Anthony,

If your command of English wasn't so impeccable, I'd assume your problem
was with interpretation of the language.  Instead, I think it's just
your desire to tell yet another person he is a fool and wrong. I do note
that further down in your commentary, you seem to "see the light" of
what the person is actually asking, but it took quite a bit clearing of
the "fog" to get there.

What the man is saying is that his image which contains lower value hues
and subtle pastel colors is showing up with more contrast and color
saturation, and losing the "mood" of the image in the scan.

Ultimately, I agree with Anthony's solutions, but I had to read a long
way down to get there.

Here is my response for the original poster:

You probably need to make sure you are not capturing the image with the
saturation up to high, the contrast too extreme, and maybe the
brightness too low, and to make sure you are not oversharpening
somewhere.   Images with very subtle colors and "atmosphere" really make
a great demand of digital conversion.  This is the type of image that
challenges the bit depth and dynamic range of a scanner, the skill of
the operator and the software involved.

My approach would be to intentionally lower contrast and saturation
while making sure you are not muddying up the image by scanning too
dark, and I'd do this in your scanning software prior to your final
scan.  Obviously, however, if you go too bright you will also burn out
the subtle highlights.  If you go overboard in your scan and end up with
too low contrast and saturation, you may be able to bring some back in
Photoshop later, by adding a bit of saturation and contrast back, but it
would be best to try to get the scan bang on during the actual scanning

The image may indeed be beyond some scanners or software to capture in
its full ambiance, but since most of us want sharp, colorful, somewhat
contrasty images most of the time, the scanners are set up to, if
anything, exaggerate these elements somewhat.

I don't believe you mention which scanner is being used.  I would
suspect that ones with collimated lighting (need I say more) would have
a harder time dealing with these subtleties than one with diffused
light, but that's just a wild theory.

In spite of what Anthony is implying, you are indeed losing information
in ending up with what you refer to as a "clearer" image than on the
slide.  In your case, you are losing some subtle levels of the brighter
end of the luminosity, so they are burning out completely, or subtler
hues are being replaced by stronger ones.

You might be able to correct some of this by changing your midpoint, or
other values in levels or via some work in curves, but the best way
would be to get the scan as close to the original to begin with.  What
you have is a relativity high key image which needs to maintain its

Some scanners may simply be unable to accomplish this fully.


Anthony Atkielski wrote:

> Brian writes:
>>However, when I scan it (Nikon Coolscan 4000)
>>using ViewScan, the scanner/software seems to
>>interpret the fog as noise(??) and produces a
>>scan with more clarity than the original image has.
> That cannot happen.  The scanner can't produce a scan that contains more
> detail or clarity than the original image.  At best, it could capture
> everything on the negative or slide, but in practice no scanner is perfect
> and so it will not manage even that much.
> If the scan looks very clear, then the original image must have been at
> least equally clear.  Are you sure the fogginess isn't there, even when you
> examine the entire image on the screen of your monitor (and not just a
> close-up examination)?
> Another possibility is that the fog was never there to begin with, and you
> are seeing some artifact produced by the lab in creating your reference
> print.
> It's unlikely that the scan software would interpret fog as noise.  It's
> possible that some software at some point in the loop is boosting contrast
> or something and that this is making the fog harder to see; that would not
> be the scanner but would be the software you are using.  VueScan does not do
> this, I don't think (but it has been a while since I last used it).
>>My question is, how do you scan slides or negatives
>>which are somewhat soft with fog or mist and retain
>>the look of the original scene?
> A straight scan will always retain this look, if it was actually there in
> the original scene.  If it is disappearing, either your scan software or
> something else in the chain is tweaking the image in a way that makes the
> fog harder to see (if any of your software is doing any kind of automatic
> optimization of the image, for example, it might think that fog = low
> contrast, and it may be boosting contrast).
>>Failing a scanning solution, is there a tweak I
>>can do in Photoshop to get the appearance back?
> You can simulate fog, but the effect would not be nearly as nice as the
> original.

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