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A scanning challenge - Adobe Photoshop Elements

I know several people on the forum are working on family pictures, some of which are very old. I've run up against a few that are really "challenging" me, and I'm hoping somebody has figured out a scanning trick that will not only cut down the amount of hand editing I have to do but also increase the quality. A number of the old photographs I have that were taken in the early 1900s are still reasonably clear when you look at the originals, but after they've been scanned, the digital images have a lot of reflection in them. I ...

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  1. #1

    Default A scanning challenge

    I know several people on the forum are working on family pictures, some of which are very old. I've run up against a few that are really "challenging" me, and I'm hoping somebody has figured out a scanning trick that will not only cut down the amount of hand editing I have to do but also increase the quality.

    A number of the old photographs I have that were taken in the early 1900s are still reasonably clear when you look at the originals, but after they've been scanned, the digital images have a lot of reflection in them. I think it's coming from the silver that was used in the processing, because the bad spots show up in the dark areas of the image - like in shadowed areas and on dark colored clothing. When looking at the originals "head on", you don't really notice it, but the reflective areas are very visible when you look at them on an angle, and they become downright grotesque once the light from the scanner gets done with them.

    I've looked through Wayne Fulton's site on scanning. He covers issues of Moire and using various tools for correcting scratches, tears, etc., but I can't find anything on his site or anywhere else about how to minimize this annoying reflection. Cloning just smears everything to a blackish gray, and painting takes away any depth the original may have had. I've also fiddled with various filters, but I haven't found one that gets rid of the part I don't want without doing a lot of damage to what I want to salvage. There's got to be some technique I can use in the scanning stage that'll minimize this, doesn't there? Does anybody have any ideas? I'm open to experimenting, but I don't know what to try.
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    Beth Haney Guest

  2. #2

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    Beth,
    I'm sorry, I don't have anything to offer, but I will watch this thread with great interest. I am sure I will have the same problem when I start scanning the old prints that I have. Thanks for starting this thread!
    Bert
    Bert Bigelow Guest

  3. #3

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    Beth, I wonder if there's some sort of anti-reflective diffusion
    transparency that you can put against the photo between the photo and the
    light source that would deflect or absorb the light rays away from the
    sensor....? Maybe a polarizing filter of some sort... It might take away
    some of the image detail, but it might be better than the 'outs' you're
    getting now.... May be worth a google...

    Chuck


    Chuck Snyder Guest

  4. #4

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    I'd thought of finding something to use as a filter, although I didn't think of a photographic filter. Do they even make them big enough so they could be used on a 4 X 6 print? Maybe this warrants another trip to the camera shop.

    I did send an e-mail to Wayne Fulton this morning, explaining the problem. I don't really expect an answer, but I figured it couldn't hurt to try! Who knows - maybe I'll get lucky. I suspect there will be a growing need as people figure out some of these old pictures just don't scan well.
    Beth Haney Guest

  5. #5

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    Beth,
    If you have a non-critical picture, perhaps you can wet it and scan it while it is wet, as an experiment. I remember that when I printed black and white pictures they always looked subdued to me in the dark room while they were in the water being rinsed. Don't know what this will do to the glass on your scanner. My thinking is that the refraction will be altered while wet.
    Ken
    Kenneth Liffmann Guest

  6. #6

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    Beth, maybe Leen needs to come in on this. There was some discussions going
    on in another thread where he was talking about some spray for preservation
    and/or appearance. He might know of something for an application like
    this??

    Juergen


    Juergen D Guest

  7. #7

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    Wow, both the suggestion to work with it when wet and the thought a spray might cut the reflection are tempting. Maybe I'll go through the old photos again and see if I can find one I have two copies of to fiddle with. The ones I've been working with so far are all one of a kind, so I wouldn't want to risk any of those.

    Ken, wouldn't it have to be really, really wet, though? It seems to me (who has never been in a darkroom in her life!) water only on the surface would just make the reflection worse. ???

    I did try running one through the slide scanner, thinking the light source might be just enough different to cut some of the glare, but that scan wasn't enough better to be worth the effort.

    What do you suppose would change - or not - if I put a sheet of non-glare glass down on the scanner bed and put the photo on top of it? Hmmm. That might be the next thing I try; it's easy, I've got a piece of glass, and it wouldn't require doing anything to the photo itself. Off I go to rummage. :)
    Beth Haney Guest

  8. #8

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    Since I'm not aware of what kind of a scanner you are using, it would be difficult for me to give you any valuable advice. But I will tell you that with my scanner I am able to do a "preview" scan and then I am able to adjust levels of brightness and alter color hues quite a bit before I even scan the photograph. When I have scanned some of these old photographs like you are doing, making such adjustments has, in most cases, corrected the kind of problems you are experiencing. I don't know if you have those kinds of capabilities with your scanner or not.
    Jim Hess Guest

  9. Moderated Post

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

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    Beth Haney Guest
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  10. #10

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    One thing that helps reduce the moire for me -- in fact, it almost eliminates it entirely -- is to use the Descreen function in my scanner software. Your scanner software will be different, but you could probably do a search for "descreen" or "moire" in your help files. I can also customize the descreening by means of a slider button.

    I also found it helps to make sure that the item being scanned is pressed nice and flat against the glass of the scanner. I usually lay a heavy book on top.

    Patti
    Patti Anderson Guest

  11. #11

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    Beth, you wrote:

    but the reflective areas are very visible when you look at them on an angle, and they become downright grotesque once the light from the scanner gets done with them.

    Just an suggestion: turn the images on the scanner plate. This way the scanner light will fall from a different angle. Don't know, but perhaps it might work.

    Spraying these images seems dangerous to me. You will never know before you apply the spray what will happen to the image. moreover, a lot of photographers applied their own recipes. So images that may look alike might react totally different.

    Another idea: instead of scannig try to reproduce these images with a camera. This way you will be able to light them in a way these reflective areas will be hardly visible. Either you can use a digital camera or scan the negatives afterwards.
    If you are not sure about reproduction techniques, please ask. I do quite some reproductions for the archives of our community.

    Leen
    Leen Koper Guest

  12. #12

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    Thanks, Leen, I was just moving on to the idea of trying to use the digital camera on it. It's definitely not moire - I fought that battle and won. I did find reference to it on one site through a Google search. This is how they described it:

    "Third, a vast majority of older photographs have an undesirable bluish sheen on the surface of the darker areas. This common effect is called “mirroring” or “silvering” and is a result of depleting silver into oxides. Many older photographs also have a very distinct pebble or embossed surface texture, intended
    as signature of quality. When these images are scanned, both the “mirroring” and the surface textured are exaggerated by the scanning process, resulting in demonstrably poor, often unacceptable image quality. ONLY specialized photographic copy techniques can overcome these scanning barriers and provide the exceptional detail and tonal values, otherwise hidden, in the original image!"

    Well... I could live without the "exceptional detail and tonal values", but it sure would be nice to see what Grama's face looked like. :)

    Next stop - digital camera.
    Beth Haney Guest

  13. #13

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    My grandmother was an extremely beautiful woman. My grandfather had an extremely good taste. This hasnot continued in further generations, unfortunately. ;-) (not the taste, but the looks.)

    But why don't you shoot in the old fashioned way (you remember film?) and scan the prints?

    Leen
    Leen Koper Guest

  14. #14

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    Film? Huh? Well, that would be worth a try - as soon as we get the Canon back from the person we loaned it to. Hmmm. We loaned it to someone who needed a decent 35mm camera for a photography class she took Spring quarter. Maybe it's time she comes out and demonstrates what she learned? :)

    I did try using the digital, but there were complications. The biggest one, of course, was me. If you remember, I've never claimed to be a photographer, and I can prove it. I experimented with four different locations within the house, and the best shots came from a bedroom that had the blinds closed. Any little bit of light was bringing out those mirrored spots again. If we ignore the fact I don't have a tripod to steady the camera (that's with the other camera), the results weren't too bad. I didn't get anything I'd want to spend much time on, but there's promise. I'll keep working on this; maybe by the time Bert is ready to work on his I'll have figured something out. Or not. Gee, Bert, why don't you just help?!
    Beth Haney Guest

  15. #15

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    "Beth Haney" <memberadobeforums.com> wrote in message
    news:2ccd7ffa.2webx.la2eafNXanI...
    > I'd thought of finding something to use as a filter, although
    > I didn't think of a photographic filter. Do they even make
    > them big enough so they could be used on a 4 X 6 print?
    > Maybe this warrants another trip to the camera shop.
    I like Chuck's suggestion of a polarizing filter during the scan. One
    caveat though, based on some quick research (that is, I'm not an expert, but
    Google makes me think I am :) )...

    You'll want to keep in mind whether you are using a circular or linear
    polarizing filter. Which one will work best depends on just how light is
    being reflected from your photographs, but the circular polarizer is
    indicated for situations where you have a source of light behind the filter
    and you want to eliminate reflected light coming from the viewer's side.
    For example, covering a glass CRT display.

    If light remains polarized only when bouncing off these dark areas (where
    you hypothesize there is a lot of silver), then this may be exactly what you
    want. In that case, the glare will be reduced or eliminated there, but
    you'll get normal light transmission from all other areas on the photograph.

    On the other hand, if the light reflected from all areas of the photograph
    retain the polarization caused by the filter as it comes in, then the
    circular polarizing filter will just result in a very darkened image.
    Obviously not what you want. :)

    I suspect that the former situation is what would occur. That the
    non-reflective areas of the photograph will just scatter the light back
    randomly, rather than leaving it polarized. But I can't say for sure.

    I think most real camera shops should have sheets of polarizing material,
    but here's an interesting web site if you're having trouble finding a
    source:

    [url]http://www.polarization.com/shop/catalog/[/url]

    Those guys look like they have lots of fun stuff.

    Some other pages I found that may or may not be interesting (apologies in
    advance for line-wrapped links):

    Quick blurb from a company that makes a whole variety of stage lighting and
    photographic filters:
    [url]http://www.rosco-ca.com/products/video/pol_filter.html[/url]
    Technical paper that includes a nice description of circular polarization:
    [url]http://multimedia.mmm.com/mws/mediawebserver.dyn?qqqqqq&8iBEqKUrq1UrqqqF8faL[/url]
    PJe9v-
    3M's technical data for a few of their filter products:
    [url]http://www.3m.com/market/omc/om_html/tech_polar_html/products/cir-polar.jhtm[/url]
    l

    Pete


    Peter Duniho Guest

  16. #16

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    "Beth Haney" <memberadobeforums.com> wrote in message
    news:2ccd7ffa.10webx.la2eafNXanI...
    > [...] This is how they described it:
    >
    > "[...] ONLY specialized photographic copy techniques can
    > overcome these scanning barriers and provide the exceptional
    > detail and tonal values, otherwise hidden, in the original image!"
    Keeping in mind, of course, that that statement was written by someone who
    is interested in selling you their own photographic copy techniques.

    I don't doubt that they do an excellent job, but they are charging anywhere
    from $20 to $100 or so *per image* on a variety of reproduction services you
    may well be able to handle yourself at home, getting 90% of the quality (or
    more, depending on how much time and effort you invest) for a fraction of
    the price.

    Pete


    Peter Duniho Guest

  17. #17

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    Oh, ya, I already figured out it was a commercial site, but it gave a better description of what I was trying to explain. I kept getting hung up on "white blotches". :) The way they phrased it made it sound believable at least.

    Thanks for your research on the various filters. If anyone around here carries anything like that, it will probably be the little shop I've been going to. It's about the last place in the county that does real photographic work. They didn't even shudder when I took an old 120 negative in last week.
    Beth Haney Guest

  18. #18

    Default Re: A scanning challenge



    I'll keep working on this; maybe by the time Bert is ready to work on
    his I'll have figured something out. Or not. Gee, Bert, why don't you
    just help?!




    LOL! Wish I could. I tried reproducing some large old paintings that my cousin had (19th century) with my digital camera. Using the natural light in his living room, I got terrible glare spots from light from the windows. I tried different camera angles...never did get a good shot, so I'm not sure the camera is such a good idea unless you can really control the light source. Hmmm. Well, that's a negative idea. Now what can I add that is positive....
    Bert Bigelow Guest

  19. #19

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    Well, I am going to the camera store tomorrow, armed with the information Peter D. dug up. Wish me luck. :)
    Beth Haney Guest

  20. #20

    Default Re: A scanning challenge

    Woops wrong area at first ...

    Beth

    I think Leen Koper has given you the best advice. I agree that the best way
    would be to copy the pictures photographically (digital or film). A two
    light set up metering of a grey card is standard and can be found in most
    books that cover copy photography. Once set up you can do lots of images in
    a short time.

    Grant


    Grant Dixon Guest

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