Saturday, December 06, 2014

Rephotographing Negatives

A recent Luminous Landscape article discussed both the merits and the process for photographing negatives and slides, bypassing the exageration of grain and dust that tends to come with flatbed scanning of film.

It seemed both easy and practical. I happened to have a macro lens. One photographer used flash to back light the film, the other a small 4X5 inch light table. It was no longer available from Vistek but B&H sell the same thing made by Logan, for about $80 - very reasonable.

I ordered one and when the table arrived, set up my tripod at the corner of the dining room table, the light table sitting on the dining table, and the camera aimed straight down at such a height as to capture the entire 4X5 inch negative.

I grabbed a pile of negatives in their paper sleeves and started going through them - any that seemed to have strong composition, I'd photograph them.

At this point, some film comes out of the sleeve dead flat, no sweat. Others have a distinct curve and I'm going to build  some metal guides for the negatives so they end up near flat. Experiments have shown it doesn't take a huge curve at f 11 and only a foot away from the negative to blur the edges of the film.

This is very much a work in progress. Resolution - better than my 4870 flatbed scanner, grain dramatically less, dust - wow - so much less hassle.

The bad news, this image wasn't sharp when printed in the wet darkroom, now at least I can see why - the focus is on the centre lighter tree and there just isn't enough depth of field  - it makes an 8X10 but not a 13X19 of quality.

Tonality - excellent - detail - nice throughout the negative, nothing lost in rephotographing - I think we're really onto something here.

My 120 macro for the Pentax 645z goes to 1:1 so I can get full resolution on my old 6X6 negatives and adequate resolution for 35 mm.

Expect to see some old work - this from the early 80's, shot with a wooden lightweight field camera and 210 mm. lens.

No comments: