Digital Spot Tone

Note: I let life and some projects around the house get in the way of posting.

For the past couple of weeks I have been going through folders with names like: Go Through This, Scanned Film, Photos for LR, etc. I started doing this because it seemed like a logical first step in trying to restart my creativity.

I have been re-editing a variety of scanned images. These scans were made on Flextight X1 scanner and were all made about 6 or 7 years ago. I had intended to work on these images before now, but life happens. So, I have been opening images in Photoshop, zooming into about 200%, and using the spot healing brush to remove dust and scratches. Each image, which I scanned rather larger, takes about 40 to 60 minutes to clean up. Then, I color correct and tone the image. A folder named to LR is where they end up before I eventually move them to they new home.

Why use film? This process is tedious and mind numbing. For a variety of reasons I have always used cheaper film, which does have a certain look to it. If I want to use film, I want it to look like film. In terms of color negative film the choice boils down to Kodak Portra (which has a certain look). Or Fujifilm Pro 400H (which I never use because it is expensive) or Superia 200 (which I use in bright light) or Superia 800 (which I used if I needed faster film). At some point I probably switched to Superia 400 (to split the difference).

I use Fujifilm because it is the film I used back in my newspaper days. Also, Portra is popular right now, and I tend to go against the popular methods of working photographers. That means I use 35mm cameras without fill flash and Fujifilm. There are a lot of film photographers out there using larger formats and fill flash. They also tend to use Portra. Most times, if I reach for film, it will be black and white, and probably Kentmere 400, which is cheaper. It looks like black and white film. The grain is a bit stronger, especially when it is pushed. Like I said, if I use film, I want it to look like film.

Unlike many art photographers I do not have a problem with film grain. There are times where I wish I used better film though. I think that would solve my problems.

I have run into some students that feel that dust and scratches on a scan make it a more meaningful picture. This is a falsehood. It just means you are lazy and sloppy. The generation I came up in was more willing to express that idea to each other. I like the idea of the darkroom. The process of spotting a print takes a lot of practice. The spot healing brush in Photoshop makes life so much easier, even though the process is more than a bit dull and repetitive.

More later.