Through a Scanner Brightly – Part 2

The Writings of the Baha’i Faith say:
“Thankful, the birds of the spirit seek only to fly in the high heavens and to sing out their songs with wondrous art.” — ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Last month I began scanning many of my older photographs in addition to more than 120 images that I had not been able to successfully scan before. I scanned a total of 210 images. Most of my film scans were done between six and ten years ago. Now I have more knowledge of how to scan film, better hardware, and Vuescan, a much better scanning program than any of those that are bundled with film scanners. Six years ago the earliest versions of Vuescan were very simple and provided only the most basic settings. Now Vuescan has a very detailed and well written manual and a wealth of settings. Vuescan is very versatile and has versions that run on Windows (all versions), Linux and Macs.

This was my original scan of an image I titled Magenta Web.


The new scan brings out the true vibrant colors of the original 35 mm slide.


This is an example of the details that are barely visible in an image that must be greatly reduced in size for a Web page.


My scans cover so much detail that they take approximately 20 minutes each to complete. Each one is roughly equivalent to what you might obtain if you had a 42 Megapixel digital camera. In real life, no such camera exists yet. (The human eye’s resolution is equivalent to a 576 megapixel camera.) Scan dimensions can be as wide as 5400 pixels by 8100 pixels. Individual scans can contain up to 285 MB of data each which is roughly equivalent to what 12,000 typical Web page images contain. Unfortunately that also means that they capture every bit of dust, every flaw, scratch and damage on the film. All of my film pictures were damaged (see Part 1 for details). The scanner also makes an infrared pass over the film’s surface. Physical imperfections show up as shadows on the infrared channel. That enables the combination of the scanner’s firmware and Vuescan to repair them. The scanner incorporates recovery technology licensed from Kodak. You can see some of the damage to my image, The Serene Pilgrim, below:


This was what the old scan looked like.


The new scan now shows the subtle colors that are really present in my original photograph. Vuescan eliminated all the damage so it required only minimal post processing in Photoshop.

Here is another example from one of my most abstract photographs. It’s an image of emotional turmoil. This was the original scan done six years ago. I never displayed it in my Web galleries because I didn’t like its colors. It was nothing like what I visualized when I took the photograph. I haven’t titled this image yet.


This is what the image is supposed to look like. Vuescan was able to restore its badly faded colors.


Comments are closed.