Tag Archives: #Scanning technique

New York Subway—November 1998.

On a visit to New York City in 1998, my father and I made a trip on the Flushing Line of the New York Subway.

I exposed these photos using Fuji Sensia II (100 speed slide film) with my Nikon N90S.

Last week I digitized the slides using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 scanner powered by VueScan software.

To make the most of the dark contrasty images I opted for multiple pass scans—a feature offered by VueScan that is similar in concept to the HDR setting used my some modern digital cameras—that blend several scans of the same image at different exposure values into one file to maximize shadow and highlight detail.

After exposure, I adjusted the scans using Adobe Lightroom and outputted these images with watermark for internet presentation.

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Gang Mills Sunset—Fixing a Chrome.

On November 24, 1998, photographer Mike Gardner and I were wrapping our photography for the day, having spent it following the old Erie Railroad mainline in New York state. A railroad then operated as part of Conrail’s Southern Tier District.

Just after sunset, we were visiting the old bridge (since removed) over the east end of the Gang Mills Yard (near Corning, New York). A bit of evening ‘drop under’ sun had tickled the clouds pink, when a headlight appeared to the west.

Working with my Nikon N90S with 80-200mm lens, I made a sequence of photos on Kodachrome 200 of the passing Conrail piggyback train. This film offered speed, but it was difficult to work with. Not only was K200 grainy, but it had a fairly narrow expose latitude as compared with either Fuji Sensia or Kodachrome 25. 

At the time I made the slide, I’d exposed for the sky, aiming to retain the texture and color, but as a result the tracks and train were a bit under exposed. Last night, I made a multiple pass scan from a slide in the sequence. Then in post processing, I lightened the foreground, while adjusting color and contrast for a more pleasing image, yet one that hopefully looks like it was exposed on Earth, and not on Mars.

Below are two comparisons. The first is the unadjusted scan (scaled for internet), the second is my adjusted scan.

Unadjusted scan of a Kodachrome 200 slide.
Kodachrome slide scanned using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 and adjusted in Adobe Lightroom.

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Canadian National at Savanna.

Scaled but unadjusted scan; no corrections to color, level, contrast etc.

Toward the end of an April 1995 trip along the Mississippi with Tom and Mike Danneman, we set up along the old Burlington near the famous Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savanna, Illinois.

The streamlined Twin Cities Zephyr was all but a memory.

However at that time Canadian National was exercising rights over Burlington Northern and routing 4-5 freights a day via this Mississippi River east-bank route to reach Chicago.

The light was fading when a nearly new CN DASH-9 approached us leading an eastward freight.

I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide using my Nikon F3T fitted with a Nikkor f4 200mm lens. This photo has appeared in print several times over the years.

For presentation here and extract the maximum amount of information from the slide, I made a multi-pass scan using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 digital scanner driven with VueScan software.

I selected ‘fine mode’ and made three samples to refine the scan and then imported the 119.8MB file into Lightroom for refinement, color correction, scaling and final presentation.

Adjusted scan.

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Rochester & Southern—Example of a Multiple Pass Scan.

This morning working with a Nikon Super Coolscan5000, I scanned this vintage Kodachrome 25 color slide.

This is a scaled version of the original scan without post processing color or contrast adjustment.

I used Hamrick’s VueScan software which allows me considerable control over the scanning process.

This has the ability to make a multiple pass scan that can obtain greater detail from highlight and shadow areas by scanning the same image several times and combining the scans.

It has a color setting specifically tailored to Kodachrome film and allows white balance fine-tuning.

VueScan work window for controlling color and exposure during scanning. Notice that I’ve used the Kodachrome profile.

VueScan Input control window where I have selected ‘Fine mode’, 3 samples, and multiple exposure features. I outputted the scan as Tif file at 4050dpi, then scaled in post processing for internet presentation.

This is a much enlarged section of the unadjusted raw scan (scaled for internet).

In post-processing, I used Lightroom to make fine adjustments to improve color balance and contrast before scaling for internet presentation.

I made the original photograph on April 19, 1989, showing a northward Rochester & Southern freight with former New York Central GP40s crossing a road at Scottsville, New York.

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Amtrak Pepsi Can on Kodachrome—High Resolution Scan (and how I made it).

I have thousands of properly exposed Kodachrome slides from the 1980s and 1990s. This view of Amtrak 502 was exposed at Oakland, California 16th Street Station in August 1992.

Gradually I’ve been scanning these into my archive. I’ve experimented with several different scanners and software, using various settings and techniques.

So far, I found that I get sharpest and most colorful scans by using a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 driven with VueScan 9×64 (version 9.5.91) software.

For more on VueScan see: www.hamrick.com

VueScan offers me a high degree of control, but I’ve found requires a bit of practice and experimentation to obtain the best scans.

I typically scan Kodachrome 25 slides at 4000 dpi (dots per inch) and  then output as a Tif file to obtain the greatest amount of data. For this slide I opted to make a multiple pass scan to retain a higher degree of shadow detail. (VueScan offers the multiple pass option under its ‘Input’ pull down menu).

To make the most of the scan for internet presentation, I imported the Tif file into Lightroom and lightened the shadows and balanced the highlights, before outputting as a scaled Jpg. (The original scan remains unchanged during this process).

Kodachrome slides recorded tremendous amounts of information and the original Coolscan Tif is far too large to present here.

Incidentally, a version of this photo appears on page 148 of my book Modern Diesel Power (published by Voyageur Press in 2011). The scan in the book was made by my publisher and isn’t the scan presented here.

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