Jul 16, 2021

More Scanning Notes

I've got a few DSLR scanning sessions under my belt now.

For financial reasons, I don't use Lightroom. I did up until they moved to a subscription model a few years ago. We purchased a new computer and it was time to upgrade my RAW editor, so I went with RawTherapee. They have a tool in there simply called Film Negative, which is a selection under the RAW tab. It works pretty well, especially when I have some neutral gray in the image to select. It's also important to note that Film Negative only works with Fuji X-Trans and Bayer sensors. Fortunately, I shoot with a Fuji X-T4, and my scanning is done with an adapted Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro. Once I get the colors close, I can further manipulate them with the HSL and LAB tools. The ability to selectively edit one color in a RAW file while leaving the others alone is well worth learning. 

Kodak Portra 400. Mamiya C220, 180mm f/4.5 lens. DSLR scan and edited in RawTherapee 5.8 using the Film Negative tool. 

Kodak Portra 160. Mamiya C220, 180mm f/4.5 lens. DSLR scan and edited in RawTherapee 5.8 using the Film Negative Tool. 

I learned that DarkTable has a similar function known, interestingly enough, as Negadoctor. It had been a decade or so since I had played around with DT, so I went and downloaded the latest version and took a look. On the surface, it's more intuitive and probably a little easier to use. Like RawTherapee, though, it requires some additional manipulation beyond the module itself in order for the scan to look right. I'm not as familiar with those tools in DT as I am in RT, but I did find something that resembled an HSV tool to bring some colors more in line with what I wanted. 

Fuji 400H. Mamiya C220, 180mm f/4.5 lens. DSLR scan and edited in DarkTable 3.6.  I left this one a little on the cooler side, as is a characteristic of Fuji 400H. 
 One thing I wasn't sure about with Darktable was handling the noise inherent in DSLR scans. That will come with time if I decide to settle on DT for this purpose. 

My skill level for scanning color negatives is not where I'd like it to be just yet. However, it's a lot further along than when I started. The pay-for option is to buy into Adobe and pay (yet again) for the module called Negative Lab Pro. I hear it's fantastic. And from the demonstrations on YouTube (and there are plenty) it looks like a fairly simple process. 

That's not me, though. So, I will need to be content with working a little harder to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to accomplish the task. And it will come in time.  

Jul 11, 2021

First DSLR Scan

This is my first venture into DSLR scanning. Or a mirrorless XT-4 with attached Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro lens, in my case. Edited in RawTherapee 5.8. It wasn't a quick process, but I showed that it could be done using FOSS photo editing applications. And it didn't hurt to have the grain elevator in the background as a neutral gray point. I have a few other photos from this roll that I did, but this is the best one.

First DSLR Scan

Scanning like this offers some incredible results, but it's not without some challenges. Specifically, getting white balance and all the colors just right can be tedious if you don't have the right tools. Apparently there are some plugins for Lightroom that make this dead simple. However, I don't use LR simply because I refuse to pay Adobe $20 a month for the privilege. So, I will continue to refine my workflow with RawTherapee and hopefully the processing time will improve over time.  Moving forward, I intend for all of my scans to be done this way.

Jul 1, 2021

Riggs Cemetery on Ilford Ortho+

I recently traveled to Rosalia, Washington to visit Riggs Cemetery. In the springtime, it's said to hold an impressive collection of wildflowers. They were present when I got there, but I think I missed them at their peak which was probably a week or two prior. Plus, this has been a drier year than usual, which likely contributed to their relatively sparse population. Still, it's a beautiful location, and I'm surprised it doesn't get visited more when photographers are visiting the Palouse that time of the year. 
Riggs Cemetery, Ilford Ortho+

I shot a couple of rolls on the C220: This one (Ilford Ortho+) and Kodak Ektar, which I will have processed by Blue Moon Camera in Portland. That roll will of course show up here when I get it back. 

Riggs Cemetery, Ilford Ortho+

This roll got processed in DD-x. I use the developer just often enough to forget that it's easy to overprocess with it. At least, I think that's what happened with these negatives. They're quite dense, something that I don't usually deal with when I'm using this camera and another developer. 

Riggs Cemetery, Ilford Ortho+

Ortho+ being what it is, I fully expected different results than when I'm shooting a more traditional panchromatic film. Especially when I'm using a yellow or red filter. Ortho+ is a great film under the right circumstances; just not landscapes. Not for me, anyway. Still, I thought that concrete/stone subjects against vegetation might be an interesting contrast, and to that end I think it was successful. 

Riggs Cemetery, Ilford Ortho+

The Mamiya C220 performed like a champ, as did the Sekor 180mm f/4.5. I cannot overstate the sharpness and clarity of that lens. It delivers the goods even down to f/32, which is the aperture most of these shots were taken. 

You can see all twelve frames here.

Mar 27, 2021

Zeroing in with HP5+, part 2

A previous post showed what happens with HP5+ at ISO 800 when shooting with a yellow filter and developing in d-76 1:1. Part two of this series shows the results at ISO 200, still with a yellow filter, and developing at 1:2.  

I'll post the photos here and let them do most of the talking. They were shot on the Mamiya C220 with the 80mm f/2.8 lens. I do like the softer tones in the sky that this combination creates. The shadows have opened up tremendously. And the scans certainly came out sharper, which I'm largely attributing to the extended developing time. 

Sunday afternoon rural tour

There are some artifacts that have crept up also, and I can't ignore them. For one, I'm seeing what I ~think~ is uneven development. One rule I ran across right after I developed this roll was that d-76 needs a certain amount of stock in the developing tank in order to do its job, regardless of the dilution used. I couldn't find an exact number of that 'certain amount', but it's more than I used here. If my tank was 600 ml, then the amount of stock present was 200 ml. 

Sunday afternoon rural tour

Also, some white specks have shown up which might be attributed to, well, most anything I suppose. In the interest of full disclosure, I do mix my d-76 in single batches. I've been told that's a no-no, but I've never had any problems that I can directly tie to that practice.

Sunday afternoon rural tour

All in all, though, this little experiment has shown the results that are possible by changing just a few variables in the process. Reliable results can be had with HP5+. My next roll will be at ISO 400 in a stock solution. If it still shows some of the uneven development, I may have to look closer at my developing practices.

Sunday afternoon rural tour

Sunday afternoon rural tour

Sunday afternoon rural tour

Sunday afternoon rural tour

Tri-x Up for Grabs

On the off chance that the two or three readers I have on this blog are interested, I am shopping 14 rolls of Tri-x in 120 format. I'm starting to narrow down my film preferences at this point, and I just hate to have an emulsion like Tri-x just sit in my freezer unused. It expired in 2016 and 2018, but has been sealed and cold stored since new.

What am I asking for it? Good question. If expired/second hand film in this format is $5 USD a roll, that would equal out to $70. I'm not necessarily looking for cash, though. If someone out there has an item in either Canon FD or Mamiya TLR mount, I'd be willing to consider a flat out trade. I would also consider some fresh/nearly fresh film from another brand as well.  US only, and we both pay our own shipping costs. Whatcha got?



Mar 22, 2021

Zeroing in with HP5+

As a film photographer for the last eight years, I've been playing the field in regards to my selection of black and white films. I've tried the majority of them as this point: Everything available to me from Ilford and Kodak, with maybe the exception of P3200, and a few off brands in there as well. Bergger. Arista Edu. Street Pan. You get the point. Frankly, I lost count a long time ago. 

At The Ready

To really make film work to your advantage, though, it's important to stick with one film and then work to get reliable results at a given ISO and with a given developer. I've known that for years now, but haven't actually put it into practice. It's time to do just that. 


Ilford HP5+ is my emulsion of choice. It's versatile, (reasonably) affordable, and readily available in both 35mm and 120 formats. Several times when I have shot and processed it, though, I've been less than happy with the results. Too many grays. All of the tones bunched up in the middle, even when I try to spread them out. Other times, though, I've been completely happy with it. 


A few weeks ago, I headed out on a partly sunny day with the Canon AE-1, 28mm f/2.8 lens, and a roll of HP5+. I attached a yellow #8 filter and shot the roll at ISO 800. Afterward, I souped the roll in d-76 1:1.  The results? You can see for yourself. A lot of contrast with much of the shadow areas blocked up. In some situations, this might be ok. You might even think that approach is ok with these frames (one of them was Explored on Flickr).  I want some contrast, but I also want some even tones. 

 Abandoned Grain Thresher, SE Washington State. {Explored, thank you}

My next roll, which is waiting to be developed, was shot at ISO 200, again with a yellow #8 filter. I will develop it in d-76 again but at a 1:2 ratio. Yes, I'm changing two variables, but I think I can get closer to what I'm looking for with this combination. At least, we'll see what happens, and we can tweak it from there.  More to come.

More Scanning Notes