An exercise in self-gratification



Digital Imaging is Photography! OH IS IT?

To give you a little bit of history, I always said that, “having worked on a computer all day, there was no way I wanted to spend my leisure time using one”; I also said that “if I had got spare time, I would rather spend it working in the darkroom”.

Unfortunately, this latter statement is not always viable. As with taking photographs, for working in the darkroom to be productive and successful, it requires a proper frame of mind and a freshness of will and spirit. To work in the darkroom, or to take photographs, when one is tired and stale, usually results in images which just need throwing away, or nothing at all. I can recall many occasions when I have had the time to take photographs, or to do some printing, and have produced nothing worthwhile, because the spark, or whatever you want to call it, was not there.

So, in that situation, what is one to do? If you are not going to do photography, you can do the crossword but that should not take too long before you finish it or give up. You do not want to always be practising your golf, or snooker, or whatever else turns you on. Reading is a good old faithful, which can be done at any time.

Over the years, however, I have gradually found extraneous influences becoming intrusive on this. I have a hatred for most of what appears on the “devils box” and needed to get away from it.

A recent change in my work situation, meant that I had some money available to spend. I therefore decided to get a computer for home, partially as a way of getting me away from the “devils box” but also to investigate for myself the viability of scanning 5”x4” negatives, which I had produced badly, rectifying same on the computer and producing full size negatives on transparency material, for contact printing in the dark-room.

So I bought a fast PC, with 256Mb of RAM, a good scanner with a transparency head, an Epson Photo-EX printer, a CD and “Photoshop 5”. Photoshop is an enormous success. It answers the first need of any hobby; it is FUN. I have a great deal to learn about it, but it is very interesting, addictive and the time flies by when using it.

I have scanned some colour enprints and produced good quality enlargements; I have also scanned 5”x4” black and white negatives and produced passable prints from these. It is interesting that the initial scan has reasonable contrast, but when it is inverted to become a positive, the contrast is several steps lower & has to be brought back in the programme. I am not sure how much, if any, degradation this causes.

Scanning finished black & white prints and then computer printing them, appears to give the degradation of quality to be expected with any multiple process. Similar to copying slides onto negative film & then printing it. Interestingly, this does not seem to be the case with scanned colour prints.

Why should this be? Is it to do with the way the brain interprets colour images, or is it something much simpler?

It is already apparent that for colour work, given a high quality original, the output on glossy paper can be as good as a photographic print. On matt paper, it is not.

For black and white work, the results are not so good. With good negatives, the output on the glossy paper is about equivalent to a conventionally produced resin coated paper print. The output on what Epson are pleased to call Photo matt paper is awful. The only transparency material that I have seen is labelled as 360dpi, which for my needs, I think, will be quite inadequate.

Consequently, I have not yet tried this. Poor negatives produce poor results (so, what did you expect Bruce? A magic wand? Yes, I think I did) and with the current knowledge that I have, I am unable to get them right. The above was written on 27/10/98. It is now 27/3/99 & the plot thickens.

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Your comments would be appreciated


Bruce Carter, FZPS