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Thread: Digitizing Prints

  1. #1

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    Digitizing Prints

    So, I love printing. I recently did a professional shoot for someone and trying to digitize a print so that it actually looked like the print became impossible. I ended up having to wet scan on my Epson 850 pro then work in LR. Ive tried scanning a print, taking a 24mp photo of it on a proper stand, etc. it NEVER looks like the print. Any tips? How are other people doing it?

  2. #2
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Digitizing Prints

    Well, it depends on what your final is going to be for. The monitor is transmitted light, RGB. Your print is viewed by reflected light, so there will always be a difference and dependent on your viewing conditions. If you are scanning to post to the web, there usually is a change that occurs once posted, the range is compressed. If it is to make inkjet prints, you have to take into account the paper and printer profiles and adjust the scanned image for that. I have scanned with a flatbed scanner and digitized with a hi-res DSLR equipped with a macro lens. The DLSR files needed sharpening, the scans came out OK, but neither was quite the same as the silver print from my darkroom.

  3. #3

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    Re: Digitizing Prints

    Ok, thank you. It just seems a waste to put so much work into a portfolio full of prints with no way to show it unless someone is standing in front of them.

  4. #4
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: Digitizing Prints

    Quote Originally Posted by Nitesail View Post
    Ok, thank you. It just seems a waste to put so much work into a portfolio full of prints with no way to show it unless someone is standing in front of them.
    How about coffee table books? The prints are smaller and won't match chemical prints. But it's a way of passing on prints of some sort for others to look at.

  5. #5
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Digitizing Prints

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Klein View Post
    How about coffee table books? The prints are smaller and won't match chemical prints. But it's a way of passing on prints of some sort for others to look at.
    Unless you go with a proper printer who will scan (either flat-bed or drum-scan) your prints or negatives, you're still stuck with having to somehow digitize your photos to get them printed in book form. Self-publishing requires you to become a designer and a prepress expert, something you may or may not want to invest the energy, learning or desire to do. And if you're picky, most on-demand digital book printing services won't hack it, especially for black and white. And even the less expensive printing services are not that cheap. Having a website is the easiest way to go if you're willing to compromise a bit on image quality and not paranoid about having your work stolen. It is possible to make the website private, with password access only so you can choose who to share it with.

  6. #6

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    Re: Digitizing Prints

    It may sound strange, but BW analogue print has narrow tonal range hence difficulties in digitizing.
    Folks are using more sophisticated digital workflow.
    Lets see. Deep South by Sally Mann. Bulfinch Press.
    Info on the last page: Triotone separationby Martin Senn.
    So - duotone or more additional pigment layers is a way to go.
    Every book of famous Steidl publishing house is printed this way ( with some additional tricks as double bypass of the same layer, selective lackeur coating etc.).

  7. #7
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Digitizing Prints

    just as an aside, prints made from scanning prints can be excellent. I have a bunch of Lenswork's prints done in this way, i.e. scan a master print, made an imagesetter negative, contact print on FB photo paper, tone..... Without a loupe, or much better close vision than I have, the prints are indistinguishable from the original. The prints were scanned at 600 spi. They were not wet-mounted. The type of surface of the print no doubt matters, with air dried FB glossy having enough texture, generally, to not give newton's rings. This method won't hold up with enlargements.
    You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.
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  8. #8
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: Digitizing Prints

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieter View Post
    Unless you go with a proper printer who will scan (either flat-bed or drum-scan) your prints or negatives, you're still stuck with having to somehow digitize your photos to get them printed in book form. Self-publishing requires you to become a designer and a prepress expert, something you may or may not want to invest the energy, learning or desire to do. And if you're picky, most on-demand digital book printing services won't hack it, especially for black and white. And even the less expensive printing services are not that cheap. Having a website is the easiest way to go if you're willing to compromise a bit on image quality and not paranoid about having your work stolen. It is possible to make the website private, with password access only so you can choose who to share it with.
    YouTube where I upload video slide shows and movies can be set up to limit viewing privately.

  9. #9
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Digitizing Prints

    I use two hot lights in my studio area, 45 degree angle each, digitize with my Nikon D800 and 55mm Micro. Works fine IMO. If I'm really concerned I'll calibrate with a color checker but usually I adjust color/contrast by eye in Photoshop.
    Last edited by Corran; 23-Oct-2022 at 09:20.
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram | Portfolio
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  10. #10
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Digitizing Prints

    High quality print repro requires considerable equipment and experience; and no matter how well it's done, there will always be some difference from the original, whether for the better or the worse, look-wise. Simply copying for sake of web-style slide show, restoration work, or general presentation is another matter and not as difficult to do. My general copystand arrangement uses a Nikkor 55 micro just like Corran, though I've packed away my Lowell hot lights and replaced them with adjustable color temp LED rim lights. Back when I did need to make seriously good copies, I used a Sinar 4x5 on the copystand instead, and if that was for sake of commercial repro rather than darkroom printing, the resultant sheet film itself was drum scanned.

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