[Memories] Scanning

Scanning negatives with an Epson V550 at the office (less dust and no cat hairs)

One thing I really underestimated was the time it takes to scan 10 rolls of film. First you have to press them for at least a day, better a couple of days – depending on the curliness of the material. But I didn’t have that time before the weekly workshop review and I couldn’t wait another week – time was running out. So I spent – after developing for a whole day – another whole day for a “quick” preview scan, to evaluate what I had.

The trap of quick previews

All the auto-features of the scanner were enabled and the scan quality was low. All for a faster process – or so I thought. At the end, all the images looked wildly different.

Contact sheet: preview scans of film #1, auto-everything

Looking through them, after a full day of scanning, I felt really discouraged. All the images looked bad. There were 400+ photos, but nothing for the exhibition or the book. Three days of shooting for what? Who was I, thinking I could make a book after only a couple of weeks of planning, only some days of shooting, when others took *years*? Did I have to abandon the project and resort to plan B?

On friday morning I decided to not look at anything project related until monday. The weekend came and went. On monday I still didn’t look at anything. On Tuesday I started to scan everything again, but this time “properly”. Took two full days, but the images looked so much better. I could color balance one batch, while scanning the next.

My scanning / color balancing method

I scan everything with an Epson Photo V550, which I bought used, when the V800/V850 were announced. I use the Epson Scan software, deselect every automatic correction and use a curve layer in Photoshop for manually setting the black/white/grey point.

Quick tip: with the eye dropper tool (color picker) selected, you can right-click and change the sample size. Especially useful for setting black points / white balance of grainy negatives.

Normally I’d scan color negatives as color slides and use the ColorPerfect plugin, but since the film (Adox Color Implosion 100) is not supported I went back to my old method.

preview scan (no thanks) / ColorPerfect (usually prefered, but no suitable profile available) / my own method

After everything is scanned and manually color corrected I import everything in Lightroom and minimally adjust a couple of things, mainly exposure and sharpening. At the end my images look something like this:

Contact sheet: proper scans of film #1 after manual color balancing in Photoshop and slight adjustment in Lighroom.

Much better to look at and work with. Scanning everything again after the quick preview scan, enabled me to better judge my work and make image selection much easier. But that’s a topic for another blog post.

Closing words

If there’s interest I could write-up a more in-depth scanning tutorial. If you have a way to simplify things for me, I’d like to know as well.

[Memories] Development

1x Schlecker Fotoland 400 and several rolls of Adox Color Implosion (two of them ripped).

I finished another two and a half days of shooting in the hot summer sun. My arms and neck are crimson, my brain is half-cooked and slowly exhaustion is taking over. Good thing the taking photos part is over. Now to the development part.


I used a Rollei Colorchem C-41 Kit and muddled myself through the process with initial help from a photography-colleague (Thanks Ruslan!). The manual was handy to have, a pen and piece of paper was even better for remembering push times. Note to self: get a lab stopwatch!

I started very carefully, but became bolder after a couple of hours. The rolls didn’t look too differently,  when I compared normal development with a +3 stops push, so I guess a couple of seconds don’t really matter that much.

Preparing the spool-in of another round – each time 4 rolls.
JOBO Colorprocessor – Humming & Gurgling Deluxe Edition.
Final rinse

It took 3 passes with 4 films each to get through all the material. Some of it was developed normally, some of it was pushed +1 stop, some +3. After 5 hours all rolls were hanging from fishing lines and I was ready to go home.

The final result

Shorty on the right side is the smaller part of a ripped film.

The next steps

Tomorrow I’ll check if the strange color cast on the back side is gone. It seemed to go as the film was drying. Very strange. Strips will be cut, put into negative sleeves and hopefully scanned without too many complications.

The last workshop meeting before the printing shop deadline is in the evening. So the plan is to have a small print of either every photo, or of a preselection. Then we’ll try to sort through them and get an edit and everything in order for the book.

Provided there’s enough material for a book. I have no idea. At the moment the images are hanging strips of plastic in a dark basement.

[Memories] Second day of shooting

Equipment for second project day – film, two cameras, label tape, notebook, lightmeter, rangefinder, backpack with rain cape and iced coffee inside.

Equipment evolution

After the film ripping on day one I decided to bring a backup camera just in case. Guess what – I ended up needing her. So now there’s not only my great-grandfathers rangefinder (Voigtländer Vito BL), but also my grandfathers SLR (Zenit-E) with me on my trip to revisit my childhood. How appropriate.


There are many things floating around in my head: The little-known history of my great-grandfather. The responsibility of future generations to remember the past. The responsibility to record family history. The question of why I do remember so little of my childhood, or even in general.

At the workshop we were talking about the emotional side of photography and that the process is as important, as the final images. That you should keep a record of the thoughts and feelings you had while dealing with the project. I find it hard to identify what I’m actually feeling. Maybe I’m way too rational. Maybe I’m not as in tune with that side of me, as I thought.

Combine all these thoughts  with time pressure and it’s all very different to my “I-shoot-what-I-find” photo style on trips through the city or nature. But I guess that’s how one grows.

Visited Places

I went to the apartment I lived in during the first couple of years of my tiny existence. Amazingly the inside of the house was faintly familiar. I remembered nothing about the inner courtyard though.

On my way and at the playground nearby I remembered smells and the feel of objects (the big stones you could climb on, the metal tusks of a concrete elephant slide). I must have looked like an idiot touching all the things between playing children.

My grandfather, aunt, grandmother, me, mom and great-grandfather. ( March 1981 )

Finally I walked into a big open area inclosed by a front of huge trees. I remembered a photo I’ve seen in a family photo album (see above). The big chimney is gone and the trees are now so big they cover almost everything else, that could identify the spot.

Writing down my feelings: I see life and I see death. I see depression and I see love. I’m sad. I’m nostalgic. I’m confused. Why did I start this? I have to do this. Why do I share this? Because we are all human. And we all share the same experiences. Experiences that have to be recorded for the future. For when you no longer have a voice. So let’s go out and take photos of the things and people we love.