Photo mystery

O
Posted By
Oh2
Aug 28, 2004
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321
Replies
12
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Closed
One of my relatives asked me to scan two 4”X6” photographs and print copies of them for her. So, I brought them home and scanned each but they’re splotchy, grainy, yeuchy at 300, 600 and even 1200 dpi. I know it isn’t my scanner.

Both were shot digitally and processed through the mail at a lab on the west coast somewhere. When viewed straight on they appear to be regular photos but when tilted at an angle, so as to bounce a maximum amount of ambient light off of them and back at myself, shadow areas don’t reflect any light at all while midtone and highlight areas sort of do but in a weird way. These guys are really hard to describe. Anyone have a clue what I’m talking about and are they scannable?
TL
Tim_Lookingbill
Aug 28, 2004
If they’re off an inkjet, you won’t get very good scans. Even the new digital minilabs like the Fuji Frontier print actual square pixels onto photographic paper and will show a slight moire pattern when scanned.

I’ve never been able to scan any inkjet without some kind of pattern.
O
Oh2
Aug 28, 2004
Tim – I’m not smart enough to accurately guess how the lab created these (I’m just a rookie hobbyist) but IMHO they weren’t produced on an inkjet printer. I could be grossly mistaken but here’s the part that puzzles me most. They just won’t accurately reflect the light from my scanners lamp back to the CCD. Parts of the photos are glossy and other areas are matte (especially the blacks – which seem to sit on top of the paper – hiding the papers glossy finish – as opposed to becoming one with it). Maybe I should just drop the whole thing right here. =)

Describing these in a way that’s easily understood by people who haven’t seen them with their own eyes is beyond my capacity and it wasn’t all that important anyway. Thanks for chiming in.
RL
Ronald_Lanham
Aug 28, 2004
Oh2

Sounds like they might have been dried incorrectly on a drum.

If your relative will allow you to… AND email you stating clearly that it’s alright for you to do this… AND pay you for the fixative… a workaround would be to gently/lightly spray the images with a matte fixative so as to make the surface uniformly reflective.

A warning though… if you spray too much fixative on your photos the blacks will become very noticeably grayer and the image will ‘flatten’ out (i.e. have less contrast and therefore be less dramatic). Also I would never do this on a client’s photos unless you got a waiver in writing that you are not responsible for the results. However… since it’s a relative… just get an email and save it in case they get ticked at you in the future and try to bring it up if it goes bad. You’ll probably be alright with it though. You can get most of the contrast back using Levels (though you may lose a little subtlety).
R
Ram
Aug 28, 2004
Oh2,

When viewed straight on they appear to be regular photos but when tilted at an angle, so as to bounce a maximum amount of ambient light off of them and back at myself, shadow areas don’t reflect any light at all while midtone and highlight areas sort of do but in a weird way.

That sounds very much like the "bronzing" effect you see on some inkjet printer/paper combinations.

On the other hand, Ronald’s suggested explanation and fix also sound plausible.
O
Oh2
Aug 28, 2004
Thanks Tim, Ronald and Ramon for your thoughts. Most appreciated. I’m think I’m going to take a pass this time and just return them. =)
R
Ram
Aug 28, 2004
Wise move, Oh2.

About ten months ago I was also approached by someone to whom I couldn’t say no with a request to scan an old 110 film negative.

I was able to fashion a simple holder out of thin black cardboard and successfully sandwich that in the normal plastic holder of the scanner. As expected, the images were overexposed and very grainy, so the scans were correspondingly poor.

The worst part is that this came about after the owner of the 110 negatives had seen some large black and white prints I had made from scanned 6x9cm 50-year old negatives. This dear person couldn’t imagine her 110 negatives would produce any lesser results, since "…they are more modern and in color!".

Never again.
SE
Soaring Eagle
Aug 29, 2004
In article wrote:

Thanks Tim, Ronald and Ramon for your thoughts. Most appreciated. I’m think I’m going to take a pass this time and just return them. =)

Some time ago, I had what I think was a problem of the same nature…could not scan with any accepteble results.

I tried getting a good color photocopy and then was able to make scans from that photocopy which was quite acceptable. Photoshop did the rest although not quite as good as I wanted, but it was "acceptable".

JM
CW
c_watts
Aug 29, 2004
I would illuminate the pictures with a softbox and photograph them with high quality digital camera.

chris
B
Buko
Aug 29, 2004
I’ve noticed that some studios and photographers use a stippled finish paper I have a feeling this is done esspecialy to stop amateurs from rescanning the pictures forcing the consumer to buy more prints from them.

Kind of like stamping a big red proof print in the middle of wedding proofs.
O
Oh2
Aug 29, 2004
Buko – that’s an interesting take that, if true, explains everything.
AS
Ann_Shelbourne
Aug 29, 2004
I have found that scanning prints made by one hour labs is disastrous. These prints are digitized (rather than continuos-tone) images and the printers that they use produce a distinctive dot-pattern which is most noticeable in the darker tones.

Get hold of the original negatives (or the original RAW file in the case of digicams) and work from those.
AB
aleric_breton
Aug 30, 2004
wrote in message news:…
One of my relatives asked me to scan two 4?X6? photographs and print copies of them for her. So, I brought them home and scanned each but they?re splotchy, grainy, yeuchy at

snip – – 8< – – –

I’ve come across this before – If its the same problem I had then the pic is printed onto textured paper; where there’s more ink (in the blacks and shadows) the pits in the paper are filled in to a certain extent. Less ink allows them to stay visible. Scanning makes light bounce off the pits and causes sparkles all over the effected parts.

The answer depends on how brave you are because you have to scan the pics whilst they are wet. Water fills in the pits and hollows and makes the image more like continuous tone. Water may damage the originals and will certainly damage a flat bed scanner if it gets inside. You can use blutak to make a small well on your platen, the water will stick the pic to the glass – usually.

I’ve done this and had excellent results from otherwise unscanable textured prints – you have to be really desperate, though.

Yours,
Al

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