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Thread: Often Used Digital Imaging Workflow Techniques?

  1. #1

    Often Used Digital Imaging Workflow Techniques?

    Hello! With assistance from this forum, I'm slowly learning a bit about digital scanning and image processing for 4x5 B&W images. Before I pay $1000 for a current Epson scanner and photoshop, I'm learning with my Microtek 5900 and Elements 2.0 with The Hidden Power of Elements added to give me Curves, etc.

    I was wondering what image processing techniques folks find that they use on most of their digital images. For example, setting the black and white and midtone points, spotting for negative defects, and probably some sort of curve adjustment.

    Do most folks find edge darkening beneficial? Ansel Adams always seemed to use this and the folks who print articles in View Camera Magazine seem to add this.

    How much burning and dodging do folks find they often do in image processing?

    Are there any other steps that folks find they often use in digital image processing?

    Other than spotting for negative defects, what types of local adjustments on an image are often used? Thank yo and best regards.

    Mike

  2. #2

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    Often Used Digital Imaging Workflow Techniques?

    In my opinion, without hurting anyone's feelings, B&W looks much better printed the traditional way. But maybe I am just an old purest and prefer the look of film with B&W.
    Regards,

  3. #3

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    Often Used Digital Imaging Workflow Techniques?

    Of course you can do anything, and experience in the darkroom is very useful for digital as well. Most people will fix dust and defects, set black and white points, adjust the curves for pleasure, and maybe darken the corners or even out the smoother areas of sky/water/land. And sharpen to suit.

    From there I might use blur to isolate subjects, along with selective darkening and lightening in local areas. You have much more control than any darkroom -- you can build masks and determine the softness of transistions and whatnot.

    Their is a book by John Paul Capanigro of mostly landscapey type of work where he does amazing Photoshop gyrations. I don't care for his work but it demonstrates the extent to which some will go, before things become purely illustrations...

    The most useful book is "Really World Photoshop Version XXX" by Bruce Fraser. Just get it.

    Before too long you'll need a full copy of Photoshop and a $99 Wacom tablet. Use the leftover cash for a scanner. Good technique will more than make up for having the latest greatest scanner on the block. Put it this way -- while I love my current scanner, I still print images scanned from a scanner I had two model generations ago. I defy you to tell me which of my images were done with the old, obsolete, "crappy" scanner.

    The current Epson 4990 is great ($399 these days I think) and they have newer, better ones in the pipeline (the 750 series, twice as much $ I think).

    You'll also want to invest in a dye-based Epson printer (2400 is a start) and the $50 Harrington Quadtone RIP for printing B&W.

    Inkjet B&W will not look like silver, unless you really experiment, sell your soul to the devil, etc. Accept that it is a different medium and that it has a beauty of its own. If you really want a fiber-based archival silver print of your digital work there are labs that can do this, but it gets expensive. I rather produce more images -- on "vernacular" equipment -- that are not so large -- than to spend all my cash on a couple of prints. Nothing beats just doing it, and you have to do enough work to get proficient (i.e. Don't get hung up on one thing for months at a time.)

  4. #4
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    Often Used Digital Imaging Workflow Techniques?

    dye-based Epson printer (2400 is a start)

    Frank, did you mean pigment-based?

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    Often Used Digital Imaging Workflow Techniques?

    I always get those confused. You know what I mean - pigment based with a lot of inks - Epson 2000-2200-2400-4400-7600-7800-9600, etc.

    (I usually just call it the money sucking device)

  6. #6

    Often Used Digital Imaging Workflow Techniques?

    Hello! Thank you for the input. It seems that 90 to 95% of my negatives would benefit from the same manipulations, like dark and white and midtone setting, etc. I have started to explore curves, dust spotting, sharpening and contrast control as well.

    Since I lot of the "bred and butter" adjustments occur on most digital images, I was curious to see which techniqes folks feel are the most important, so that if I spent most time on mastering those techniques, I could produce excellent results, in say in 90% of my negative digital images.

    I thought if I concentrated on those, my level of expertise would rise quickly. After that, a better scanner and digital image editing program would seem to make sense in irder to use the techniques that are used less commonly or in usual or difficult to print negatives.

    So, in addition to seeting black, white, and midtone points; basic curves adjustment; defect spotting; and gentle sharpening, are there any other techniques that folks would cnsider such "bread and butter" techniques? Best regards.

    Mike

  7. #7

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    Often Used Digital Imaging Workflow Techniques?

    That's more than 90% of people do... where you set the points and how you shape the curve are the hard parts.

    Lots of people even here still don't understand image size and resolution, so getting a handle on that is important too.

    I always forget what Elements doesn't have compared to Photoshop - I know it is a great value - but if you are certain that you will go down this route (as most of us here are) it makes sense to get proficient with the program you'll use -- i.e. Photoshop -- and not the more consumer amateur orientated software. I think the interface on Photoshop and some of the tool and printing options are worth getting used to.

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    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Often Used Digital Imaging Workflow Techniques?

    Get Frazers Real World Photoshop and getCS2. To do serious tone manipulation you need adjustment layers and history snapshots. I don't think Elements does all that. Also my friend George DeWolf is coming out with a new book which should be just the ticket for you. Though it ifs for color the Charles Cramer articles serialized in the recent View Cameras are excelent for b&w too.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

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    Often Used Digital Imaging Workflow Techniques?

    "Inkjet B&W will not look like silver, unless you really experiment, sell your soul to the devil, etc. Accept that it is a different medium and that it has a beauty of its own"

    I see this kind of statement a lot and I have to respectfully disagree. I can't count how many times I've shown black and white digital prints to other photographers and heard expressions of surprise that they were digital. The only give-away if someone is trying to tell which is which is the matte paper I use for digital and even that clue disappears when the prints are framed under glass. I've exhibited both traditional and digital prints together, framed and under glass, and never had anyone remark that one group of prints looked different from the other. I don't consciously try to make digital prints look exactly like traditional but my sense of what I want a print to look like was formed through many years in the darkroom and so it's natural for me to make digital prints that share the same aesthetic as my darkroom prints.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  10. #10

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    Often Used Digital Imaging Workflow Techniques?

    I was wondering what image processing techniques folks find that they use on most of their digital images. For example, setting the black and white and midtone points, spotting for negative defects, and probably some sort of curve adjustment.
    I use Levels, Curves, some form of sharpening and spotting on every image. I use adjustment layers with layer masks on about 25%.

    Do most folks find edge darkening beneficial? Ansel Adams always seemed to use this and the folks who print articles in View Camera Magazine seem to add this.
    It's a cliche and it onlly really works for images where the center of interest is in the center. That's a pretty boring way of making photographs IMO. I much prefer images without it, where the interest goes all the way to the edge.

    How much burning and dodging do folks find they often do in image processing?
    I used to do a hell of a lot, with all sorts of masked adjustment layers etc. Now I do almost none. When I do, it's almost always

    Q for Quick Mask
    D for default colors
    G for gradient tool
    draw the gradient, using shift if necessary to keep it vertical/horizontal
    Q to turn the mask into a selection
    Add a curves layer, auto-masked to the current selection.

    Are there any other steps that folks find they often use in digital image processing?
    My favorite is

    Filter>Dust and Scratches

    Then click on the box to the left of the current history state to set the source for the history brush
    Then click on the previous history state to undo the filter

    Now Y to select the history brush and you can paint from the future! Great for dusty negs.

    (when you are doing this, J gives you the healing brush and S the clone tool, for tricky areas)

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