Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Looking Back

While going through some old boxes over the weekend, I encountered a box of photos and negatives I had taken and developed back in the 1994-1996 timeframe. Nothing special. Just a couple hundred developed 35mm negative film strips and the prints made from them. Not wanting to spend some money I'm saving towards my A700 replacement, I googled for DIY film scanners. My search was fruitful.

Photograph of a golf course. 35mm film photographed with DSLR.

The images themselves are nothing special, but the idea that analog 35mm film was being digitized by an APS-C sensor'd camera was kinda cool.

Like the in the various DIY projects, I used a hot shoe flash to provide the consistent lighting. However, unlike the other DIY examples, I didn't use a large box. I went small. REALLY small. the "box" was an Apple USB dock cord box with holes cut into it. Taped to the front of the flash, well, more like onto the output window of the flash. A few sheets of tracing paper were placed inside to provide some diffusion. A couple of strips of cardboard served as film holder. Scotch tape and gaffers tape held it all together.

50mm f/22, 30mm extension tube, manual focus, and hand held. Flash was triggered via the now common audio jack cables. :) ISO 200, 1/200th exposure, and the LP160 flash unit was at like 1/4th power.

Changing the distance between the diffusion material and the negatives changed how much of a "texture" was applied to the resulting "scan" of the negative. Give enough distance, there is no grain. Reduce it some, and you can get some downright creepy results:

Cosplayers @ Anime Expo 1996. Film to digital conversion with DIY setup.

As you can see, it's definitely got some creepy looking effects going on, ala Silent Hill(tm).

The shot images were, of course, color negatives. Loaded them into Lightroom, then edited them in Photoshop, where I inverted the colors, and brought them back into Lightroom to be cropped and tweaked. Lightroom REALLY needs an "Invert" option.

The dark spots are actually where the light was very bright, coming through the irregular texture of the tracing paper. It lends a VERY dark form of antiquing to the photograph, almost like mold/mildew, and I look forward to applying it to my normal photography in future shots.

Next time, though, definitely going to place the camera on a tripod. :)

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