Dusty Dilemmas

July 24th, 2008 § 2 comments

Seems like all my material explanations begin with, I scanned it first and then….I think I used the scanners upstairs more than the painters or printmakers, I would pass their enormous studios with arms piled full of images and paper, and the machines would have the same preview I left the night before. Scanning is usually more time consuming than people think, and generally far less complicated—my professors seemed to think it was either a very tricky process or like using a copy machine, which can be a very tricky process. I scanned slides for the office last summer, a ridiculous waste as the new slide scanner was hooked up to a very old, incredibly slow computer, and thankfully this summer that has been rectified. I have been working for my old ‘advisor’, converting her slides into digital images, scanning the lectures she gave out of state this summer. It has been nice to see the lecture artists without having sit in, and to see the progression of her textiles beginning in the 1980’s

Slide scanners are obviously different from the large, flat bed Epson’s I use (and want), and like all my knowledge I know what I have needed to know for my own work and little outside of it—why these kind of jobs are good for me. I generally set my “target” size and scan to the scale am printing, but the slide scanner scans the actual size of the slide at a high (4000) resolution, which seems to make sense for uncertain later uses. The program the scanner uses is quite willful, and unlike the Epson preview it simply does not allow you to make changes, seems you can request it nicely to do, or not to do, certain things, and hope for the best. It took me a long time to figure out the correct way to insert the slide—how many possibilities could there be?—but it is counter intuitive and when put in the wrong way it simply crops the slide down, for some reason unknown to me. I let it do just what it wanted, thinking it probably knows best.

The scanning itself was fast and painless, it took about ten hours of nighttime trips to the office, including interruptions by lurking grads and professors returned from sabbatical, to scan the load. It is the problems after that are tedious and are causing me to go blind. While I cleaned each slide carefully before I scanned many are still dusty, it seems the older they are or the more handled, such as ones borrowed from the slide library, the longer they take to clean up. I seem to remember the Bayman saying something about scanners without flat beds being better for negatives, but if they internalized dust it was difficult to clean—or he might have said they were the same they just had different dust problems. I am not sure how much shows when they are projected, but in some cases they are so dirty they must be cleaned up for my own peace of mind. I remember how much time I spent with the magnifying glass in Photoshop cleaning before I would send my Giclée’s to the printer. I also remember when I used to print in the darkroom learning the hard way that it was better to take good care of my negatives in the first place than to have to deal with dust and scratches later. I have worked out a system, but my system takes too long, and it will be a race to finish before the end.

§ 2 Responses to Dusty Dilemmas"

  • everything can be solved with money. there are some real geeks but less prolific real photographers in the department who talk of wet scanning which not only gets rid of dust but also grain and makes the image sharper. i don’t think any of them have actually tried it. the problem is the gunk –technical term – that has to be cleaned off the film when you are through. they are usually extra add-ons.

    i am thinking, though, of buying a film scanner as, while i find the flatbed fine for anything larger than 35mm, i am having trouble not only scanning but colour correcting 35mm negs. i do find dust much more of a problem scanning than in the darkroom static cloths seem to make matters worse and have no inclination to start wet scanning.

  • a guzman says:

    Wet Scanning? That sounds like the type of thing a bunch of guys (maybe geeks too) would think up while on a mission to photograph strippers in Vegas with large, impressive cameras (a conversation I actually overheard while at a coffee shop on Carry St.)

    I had the color problem, I think I told you about it at the time, when I was scanning my Holga’s on the flatbed, but cropping down to the image seemed to get rid of the green cast. My negs were not as dirty as these slides, even the 35mm ones I did, I am guessing because they are newer and I take good care of them. In general, I have had more trouble with dust scanning than I ever did in the darkroom, even when printing large. The only times they were this bad, once or twice in my CalArts years, was when I junked my negs into a backpack while rushing to meet my mom in the parking lot.

    I only have 11 slides left to do, plenty of time, but god is it boring.

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