Monday, October 29, 2007

The Scanner is Amazing

Here's an example of why I'm really glad I got the nicer scanner. It does an amazing job of capturing detail at high resolution.

Here is one of the pictures from the collection as I came across it: a tiny little print:

This is a tiny little thing, and is too bright in the foreground and too dark in the background, but I noticed that it appeared to be a contact print -- that is, printed with the negative directly in contact with the paper. This means that it has potentially quite a bit of detail in it. So although there is normally no point in scanning prints at a resolution higher than about 600 dpi or so, because there just isn't more detail to be found, I decided to scan this one at 1200 dpi. After a little tweaking of highlights and shadows to bring out detail that initially appears to be over-exposed and under-exposed, I had a grayscale image that I was able to print at 8 1/2 x 11:

It's hard to show in this digital picture of the print, especially since my printer isn't all that good (it doesn't do dark blacks well), and I don't have a profile for it, but there is a huge amount of image detail that the scanner was able to retrieve from that itty-bitty picture. And I'm sure a much better print is possible.

I'm really looking forward to tackling the 1910 cyanotypes -- I suspect that there are astounding details in those pictures that no one has ever seen, except possibly the photographer who printed them in Tidioute, Pennsylvania almost 100 years ago.

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