Rescuing a New Haven EP-3 from the Shadows: A Lesson in Slide Scanning.

 

Back in the day it wasn’t always easy to obtain a satisfactory exposure. Sometimes we got it wrong.

Such was the case on February 6, 1959, when my father made a very dark slide of a New Haven Railroad EP-3 electric leading a long distance train at 204th street in The Bronx.

Did a cloud block the sun at just the wrong moment? Did he simply use the wrong setting? Who knows. But the other day, I rescued this very dark slide from his ‘doubles file’ long stored out of sight.

By my estimate I’d say it is about 2-3 stops underexposed.

Slide Scanning in three 3.5 parts

I made three scans of this slide, from which I produced four variations of the image.

This is the first scan: I exposed normally using my Epson V600 with the Epson software set for ‘auto exposure’. The result pretty dark, yet still lighter than the original.
This is the first scan: I exposed it normally using my Epson V600 with the Epson software set for ‘auto exposure’. The result pretty dark, yet still lighter than the original.
For my second scan, I optimized the exposure and manually set the highlights and shadows using a histogram graph. Using Lightroom I exported two variations. This is the first, which is unmodified from the scan.
For my second scan, I optimized the exposure and manually set the highlights and shadows using a histogram graph. Using Lightroom I exported two variations. This is the first, which is unmodified from the scan.
My second variation of the second scan required a bit of work in Lightroom in order to adjust contrast, highlight and shadow detail, while boosting the saturation, clarity and other controls. The result offers better exposure, color and contrast, but it is too grainy.
My second variation of the second scan required a bit of work in Lightroom in order to adjust contrast, highlight and shadow detail, while boosting the saturation, clarity and other controls. The result offers better exposure, color and contrast, but it is too grainy.
For my third scan I opted for a different approach. I used VueScan and opted for a multiple pass scan (which in effect scans the slide 3 times to obtain the greatest amount data from the slide). I imported this scan into Lightroom and made my corrections for color, contrast (local and global), saturation and etc, but also used the noise suppression feature. Since this results in an over-all softening of the image, afterwards I locally sharpened key areas of the image.
For my third scan I opted for a different approach. I used VueScan and opted for a multiple pass scan (which in effect scans the slide 3 times to obtain the greatest amount data from the slide). I imported this scan into Lightroom and made my corrections for color, contrast (local and global), saturation and etc, but also used the noise suppression feature. Since this results in an over-all softening of the image, afterwards I locally sharpened key areas of the image.

 

My question: all of this scanning and correction required about 45 minutes of my time. While it was neat to rescue this long forgotten image of an EP3 electric, would my time be better spent making less labor-intensive scans of properly exposed slides from the same period?

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7 thoughts on “Rescuing a New Haven EP-3 from the Shadows: A Lesson in Slide Scanning.”

  1. Most of us don’t have more slides from the same period, so saving one is a good use of your time. You have plenty of time anyway… you can scan more slides tomorrow…

  2. Nothing that gives pleasure is a waste of time. The resulting image is quite wonderful and an excellent record of that day.

  3. IMO your time was spent well – now other scans will be a “piece-of-cake!” I am old enough to barely remember pre-McGinnis on the NYNH&H – those 60-ish year old memories have dark colors on the non-stainless steel equipment on passenger trains – mostly a couple of shades of green on NH cars which were frequently accompanied by the dull tuscan red of visiting equipment from the Standard Railroad of the World. A rare visit to observe the B&A in Springfield brightened things just a bit with the two-tone grey of the NYC but I remember legions of dull green baggage and express cars there as well. McGinnis brightness really stood out!

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