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Digital Imaging - Fine tuning

by Gordon Beddis

Reproduced from in focus 65 (June 1999)

See also: COMPUTERS : SCANNERS and PRINTERS : GETTING TO GRIPS WITH CONCEPTS by Gordon Beddis

and DIGITAL SLIDE SCANNERS and SCANNING by Brian Pitkin

You have in front of you all the computer gear; you've turned the power on and every thing appears to be OK? What do you do next?

Your Monitor, printer and scanner all have to be colour-calibrated, the installation software has drivers to make things work, but not the final 'tweaks* that make all the difference.

One of the hardest things about digital imaging is colour balance. If your equipment is not set on the optimum settings, the colours seen on the monitor's screen will definitely not be the ones that are printed on the paper. Therefore, you will find yourself adjusting the colour balance via the imaging program and guessing what the printed image will turn out like - A Nightmare! Not only will you waste precious ink and paper, every image will take you about 10 times longer to print successfully and you will not be using the creative parts of the program. On some of the images you might never get the colours as you want them printed and just give up in sheer frustration.

Step l. Find out the make and model of your monitor. If new, you should have a handbook with all the monitor's specif ication. Depending on the software program you use, there are different ways to achieve the some goal e.g. Photoshop 4 has Gamma Correction.

Step 2. Your scanner has to be fine-tuned to work at its best e.g. Nikon Scanners have Gamma Values. Set them as instructed to compensate for your monitor.

Step 3. The printer settings are possibly the most frustrating.

a. Printing out on plain paper, automatic settings will do, for text or test prints.

b. Photo paper needs more care e.g. on the Epson Stylus Photo I use,

* 720 dpi
* Fine dithering
* Photo-Realistic

Save the settings so you can use them time after time. Start with printer manufacture's paper (settings are in the handbook for these). Then work on different papers, as you become more experienced. I have found one paper that is waterproof: it 'locks' the printed image under a glossy finish and passes for Hand Finished Slide Photographs when printed correctly.

I am not going to go through the processes of scanning in slides, you will have to experiment and it depends on the scanner you purchase - all have different software.

Here are a few pointers:

Do not scan the image in at full dpi - unless you want to work on fine detaiI e.g. smaller pixel size, but bigger file sizes.


* Making too many adjustments to the images colours is a waste of time.
* Hues and Saturation of the image can be 'tweaked' later - via the software.
* As soon as you have done a final scan - save that image to the Hard Disk.

Images

What you do with images is up to you and the software program you use. I would like to go into images and how to get the best from them in more detai I next time.

There is very little that digital imaging could do that very specialised processing labs could not do, but instead of weeks, and sometimes months, to obtain a final image, digital imaging can do the some in a fraction of the time. As technology advances, so does digital imaging and so the gap widens. Digital imaging is not going to go away and it can only get better!

Thanks for alI the feed back. Gordon.

See also: COMPUTERS : SCANNERS and PRINTERS : GETTING TO GRIPS WITH CONCEPTS by Gordon Beddis

and DIGITAL SLIDE SCANNERS and SCANNING by Brian Pitkin


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