Monday, July 28, 2008

Panoramic Back

Well, tomorrow I should be getting my new 6x17cm panoramic roll film back for my 4x5in camera. It extends out the back to give the film the extra coverage over the 5 inches of the main camera back. Anyways, I have some film I'm going to run through this bad boy to make sure there are no light leaks and once that is done, expect a flood of images. I love the panoramic format and one of the problems with shooting them digitally is the issue of changing light and movement of cars/people. (If you're in a city, for example.) Now, as far as moving objects go, one could spend a lot of time in Photoshop making things right, but I'm not into all of that. When it comes to Photoshop, I use it to make color corrections and that kind of stuff. I have better stuff to do, like be out shooting. This back limits my panoramics in the sense that I can't do 360 degree images with it. I still have the ability to shoot the digital side of it, but anymore my focus is on film photography as I like the detail and color I get from big film scanned in. Well, I hope to be showing you all new shots from this system soon!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Scanning Film Positives and Negatives

I know that I'm part of a dying breed of large format photographers. That said, there are still plenty of us out there, just not like it used to be. I jumped on this train late, but it was only after seeing my 4x5 first transparency (Slide for you 35mm types...). I picked it up, carefully of course, and held it up to the light. Wow. The clarity and detail was, to say the least, insane. I took a class on it and haven't really looked back since. Is that to say that I don't shoot digital? No. I believe certain formats give me certain benifits. Plus 4x5 isn't particularly cheap to operate.

More to the point, once I started shooting 4x5 I thought to myself, crap, how am I going to work with this? I don't have a darkroom at home to make prints off of. I'm also not particularly great with color printing in the darkroom - I reserve that for the digital darkroom. Well, one of the problems with trying to obtain scans of your 4x5 (Or larger) images is the fact that only a select few scanners will scan that large - with thee quality I require.

I chose the Epson 750M Pro flatbed scanner. It affords me a lot of latitude with chosing to scan normally or fluid mounting the film for drum scan-like clarity. On part I didn't think too much about was the scanning software itself. Scanning, I've found, is just as challenging, if not more, than taking the photo itself. I started off just using the Epson software, but just found it wasn't giving me what I wanted. I then started playing with the version of LaserSoft's SilverFast 6.4 that came with the scanner and got a whole lot better results. I was seeing some issues, though, so I went online to figure out how to do better. I found that upgrading to version 6.6 of the software made a heck of a difference.

Wow. A new version of the software and the scanner was producing results that I just couldn't believe. That makes me happy: I've bought a scanner that it's abilities are still being caught up to by the software. Amazing. My point of this post? Don't just settle when it comes to the softwre that comes with your scanner.

Do yourself a favor and download the version of SilverFast for your scanner. They develop the software for each particular scanner and the price is dependent on the scanner you own. Make sure you upgrade to the latest version. I'm not one to sit here and get people to buy buy buy, but this is just one of those cases. With SilverFast vs your scanners software there are a ton of different options. One of the best things for scanning negative film with SF is NegaFix. You just input your film type and speed (Sometimes format) and it will automatically figure out the proper settings for your scan. That said, play with it. Don't always use your particular film's settings. Try different films to get different effects. Another wonderful feature of SF is the Multi-Exposure setting. Because, just like a digital camera, your scanner only has so much range. What this feature does is it takes two scans of the image, one for the highlights/mids and one for the mids/shadow detail and combines them in the final scan so you have the full detail of your image.

This stuff can be tedious and time consuming. Especially when you have to make a second scan because for whatever reason you're not satisfied with. Use the right software and play with the scanning settings and find that you can have a better scanned image than you could have imagined with the stock software!

Friday, July 4, 2008


Hello, I'd like to welcome everyone to my new photography blog. My name is Brian Akerson and I am both a fine art shooter and a sports photographer. I enjoy shooting in both film and digital formats. For digital, I shoot with Nikon gear. For film, I shoot with 4x5 gear, including a Horseman Woodman field camera and a Cambo SC rail camera for the studio. I will get into my gear, and gear in general, in a later blog entry.

I guess I'm jumping on the blog bandwagon a little late, but better late than never. In my blog I intend on posting my experiences, my opinions and information on how to shoot and/or edit photos. I hope you enjoy this and please visit my websites.