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Sue Chastain

Sue's Scanning Saga: Things I've Learned, Part 3

By January 30, 2005

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(This is continued from part one and part two of my scanning saga.)
My scanning tally so far is 280 slides and close to 300 photos, including a handful of negatives. I decided to compare VueScan to the scanner software for scanning regular printed photos and negatives. I found that I preferred the results from the scanner for prints, although I probably could have gotten better results with VueScan if I spent more time tweaking the settings--it was just easier and faster to get the settings right in the Canon ScanGear software.

For negatives, though, my results from VueScan were better than ScanGear. VueScan was also faster and gave me more accurate cropping. Comparing a scan of the negative and the print of the same photo, I got better color and detail from the scan of the the print, but if all I had was a negative, the results were still very good. And again, I could have spent more time in VueScan adjusting the settings for negatives to get better results, but I don't have a lot of negatives, so I didn't spend much time on it. For me, another plus to scanning prints is that it goes a lot faster compared to negatives which have to be loaded into a transparency holder for the scanner.

But the majority of my time this past week has been spent on touching up the pictures I've scanned so far. The biggest problem I have been having with the slides is that they all have a lot of dust and dirt flecks on them. I mentioned in a earlier post that Photoshop Elements' spot healing tool has been working well for this, and it does, but it can be tedious if there are a lot of spots to remove. Here's a shortcut I've found for fixing up large areas of relatively solid color with unwanted spots:

  1. First, use the spot healing tool on the subject of the photo and the largest specks.
  2. Then make a rough selection of the remaining area to be fixed either using the lasso tool or the selection brush.
  3. Feather the edges of the selection, and then do New > Layer via copy.
  4. Run the dust and scratches filter using settings that will remove any remaining spots. (You will see a loss of detail in this step, but it's ok, we are going to bring it back.)
  5. Set the blending mode of the layer to "lighten." (If the spots you wanted removed were lighter than the area you are repairing, you would set the blend mode to "darken.") This takes out the specks without taking out too much detail.
  6. Lastly, turn the visibility of the dust removal layer on and off to compare with the original layer below. If there are any areas where you want to bring back more detail, brush over them with the eraser tool to reveal the layer below.

I've also found some discoloration and stains on some of the slides and photos. I had never really used the color replacement tool in Photoshop Elements before, but I've found it works wonderfully for fixing up stains and discolored areas. I'll post an illustrated tutorial showing both of these techniques soon.

By the way, as I work on touch-ups on all these scans, I have been working exclusively in Photoshop Elements 3, even though I have and am proficient in Photoshop CS. There's only been one thing I've felt I was missing from Photoshop and that's the curves adjustment. I'll have to refresh my memory on Richard Lynch's methods for working with curves in Photoshop Elements. If you're trying to decide between Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you might want to check out my comparison to decide if you really need to spend $500 more on Photoshop.

PS: I changed the title of this series from "Scanning Insanity" to "Sue's Scanning Saga" because when I first decided to embark on this project, I thought I surely must be insane to take on such a task. But I'm having fun and learning a lot, so it's not as crazy as I originally thought it would be. Although, who knows... by the time I finish I might feel like going back to the original title. ;-)

Continued in part 4...

Related Articles:
- Adobe Photoshop CS vs. Photoshop Elements 3
- Getting Started Scanning
- Scanning Help and Tips
- Scanning Slides and Negatives
- Scanning Software
- Photoshop Retouching Techniques
- 10 Step Picture Prep
- Scanner Information and Advice

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