Thursday, December 17, 2015

Digital Contact Sheets

Woodbury, Connecticut

A tedious task, but then, so was making contact sheets the old fashioned way. I've finally begun to explore printing some of my old film work in platinum via digital negatives. I have several Facebook posts about that, put up recently, if anyone is interested. Doing that reminded me that, while my negative filing system of 46 years of work is solid, my collection of contact sheets is, well, not so much.

Besides, once done, the digital proofs will be much easier to use. I'm not sure it's any faster to do than RC contacts in the traditional darkroom. I'd expose six sheets/rolls in a row, then gang process, then another half dozen sheets. The scanner moves along quite slowly, probably because it is processing the information to scan negatives directly to positive. It also (this is an Epson V750 Pro) hogs the whole computer—Momma don't allow no multitasking 'round here—so I've cranked up the creaky five year old iMac to log on and put up a post. Also to have some stuff to read online while waiting for the scanner to address the next roll of film.

The other thing about digital proofs is that they're essentially free. Aside from time and effort, several hundred sheets of RC silver paper would cost quite a bit. The only cost this way is the tiny part of a three terabit hard drive they'll take up.


Stephen Cysewski said...

Can you describe, briefly, the process you are using? Just a few hints, software, etc. I have the non-professional Epson 750.

Carl Weese said...

Steve, this comment seems to have gotten lost, or maybe wandered around the intertubes.

Anyway, couldn't be simpler. I'm using the Epson scanning software, 200 ppi, 8-bit grayscale, save as .jpg files. In an initial prescan, I open the histogram (auto-exposure for repeat scans is turned off so this setting will "stick") and adjust so the film edge is just above black, level 20 or so, then get the mid-tones and highlights reasonable. Then I just rock 'n roll for sheet after sheet, no prescans after the first one. The pace is nearly one scan per minute, and the files are tiny. The sheet is big enough to read easily in Bridge on a big display. Open in PS and go to 100% view and the shots are about twice the size you'd have in a real contact sheet.