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What I don't know about PhotoShop...
Old 10-15-2004   #1
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What I don't know about PhotoShop...

...could fill the Library of Congress. I am relatively new to the program (CS version, never used PS before) and to no one's surprise at times overwhelmed. I did just buy a lesson program which I believe will be helpful (PhotoShop One on One). I do not have a lot of specific questions at this point, probably because I don't know enough to ask yet.

I am curious about a few related subjects, though. Over the past few months I've been having my processor scan my negatives onto disc for me. What level of quality is reasonably expected from this service? For example: is it unreasonable to refuse to accept any dust/fiber specs on the scans? One processor seems to have none, another seems to have a problem with this. The obvious answer would seem to be use the "cleaner" processor, however they do not scan at the high resolution that the other processor does (the one with the dust/fiber problem). Am I being too picky?

Another general question I have is that I am open to all ideas regarding organization/storage of discs and data. I have a system for film/negs and I can likely come up with something on my own, but I am always interested in what others have found or are doing -- always something to learn.

I am backing up on both external hard drives (two separate drives) and CD, so I feel I have that coveredi. Any other general comments, suggestions, etc. will be very much appreciated. Thank you in advance.

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Old 10-15-2004   #2
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I'd also be very interested to hear other people's opinions, as I'm likely to get a film scanner in the coming months.

On the topic of the scan quality, it seems to me that if you want it done well, you will have to do it yourself. Even the 'high res' versions supplied from high street processors are only a few Mb, while a decent film scanner will give you a file size in excess of 50Mb, and will automatically compensate for small bits of dust. The money you save from not having it done on the High St, and perhaps getting smaller or no prints might make the price difference between the two options far less than it seems.

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Old 10-15-2004   #3
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Always demand the best your processor can give, don't settle for dust and specs! Although they can be removed in PS, they are not the norm, I mean you didn't bring your film in to them with dust on it so don't accept dusty negs.
If you can process your own film and scan yourself you will be much happier with the results as you will have ultimate control throughout the whole process. If not then choose whomever does the best job. You really don't need a high resolution file for web use anyway.
As far as file storage goes, My Mac has a DVD drive that burns DVD discs, 4.7 gig holds alot of images!

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Old 10-15-2004   #4
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I agree with Todd. Dust and specs should not be accepted.

Now... the stuff you get from the processor may be good only if you want to do small 3X5 or 4X6 prints. Don't try anything larger (actually, 4X6 may be risky) or else your prints will show heavy pixelation due to their low resolution. Besides, they're jpgs, and somebody said to me that they're inherently "flat" (I don't know how an image that's already "flat" can be "flatter" but then, that's computer parlance), and just not idea for printing, though very good for internet posting.

See to find a book called "Photoshop: Classroom in a Book." I have it, it comes with a CD with tasks and exercises which you do along with the book. It's very helpful! I got my copy from eBay for $25, but you can go and lay your hands on one for about $45 from Borders or B&N.

Good luck!!
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Old 10-15-2004   #5
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Don't be surprised if the lo-res one is actually from Prints, and the Hi-Res one scans from the negs. The local Walmart here uses a Noritsu, not a Fuji Frontier like the US ones, and I know they scan from prints, not negs.

Of course, if you scan at a low enough res, dust doesn't show .
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Old 10-15-2004   #6
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A couple other good books;

Adobe PhotoshopCS for Photographers - Martin Evening - Focal Press

The PhotoshopCD book for Digital Photographers - Kelby - New Riders

Both of these books walk you through scenarios which are common to Photographers. Easy to follow, and you can learn quickly. The "Classroom in a book" series that Solares mentioned is also excellent. Any one of these books should give you the basics, then the rest will be up to you.


As previous replies mentioned, you should get fairly dust free scans. But, like any darkroom, you should expect to be required to spot a couple areas.

Ok, long winded here.... proceed at your own risk!! However, its hard to answer your question without being somewhat verbose. Here goes.....

For archiving and storage, that could take a book by itself. Here is the basics of what I do, but keep in mind that I do this professionally with stills, video, and audio, and I'm responsible for the content to my clients. If I loose a days worth of work, it could cost me from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars to re shoot it.

Once I acquire the footage or stills, the first thing I do is archive them to CD or DVD (for images) before I do anything else. I copy them to a working direction on my hard disk. I leave them on the original media for the time being. Then I make two CD's, one labeled 'Archive Master, and the other labeled 'Archive Backup'. Each CD gets a unique ID, being the date, category (Personal, Business, Data, etc), and a disk number for multiple disks written that day. Ie,;

The ID - 041014PA would mean the following;

P=Personal. B=Business, D=Data, etc
A=first disk written on this day, B=2nd, C=3rd, etc.

This code is also used in the image filename, so that there is always a reference to actual disk where the image is located. I use the batch file renaming utility in ACDSEE. The filename would look something like this;

041014PA-OldOrchardBeach-DSC02234.RAF (.JPG, etc)

The DSC02234 is the filename assigned in camera,and serves to keep a unique numbering scheme. I only really add the CD id, and something to serve as a comment for the days shooting.

Once I have the CD written, I read it with my digital image database (IMatch). This allows me to keep low res images on disk for quick reference, assign keywords for searching, job nbrs, client id, content, etc. The filename now also serves as a secondary way to located the original CD outside of the database, as well as a searchable keyword.

So now I have 2 CDs that are verified good, a copy of the images on my hard disk with a reference to the CD, and all the images are cataloged into a database for searching, etc. I can now format or delete the images from the original compact flash, memory stick, or??, and file the CDs. The original CD gets stored in a binder, and the backup CD gets stored in a separate binder. I typically store the second binder off site.

The originals are now safe for 10 years or so, at which time I will move them to whatever is replacing the current technology. The very early images were on floppies and zip disks, and now reside on 1yr old CDs and DVDs. You will need to migrate the images to new media every 10years or so to keep them current and safe, and the originals on the old media will serve as yet another backup for as long as the media holds out.

Ok, now all I have to deal with is the working image files. I have some software (SecondCopy) and an external hard drive that automatically backups all files on my hard disk to the external disk automatically. This happens daily for the hard disk, and a couple times a day for the working directory. I have immediate access to the external hard drive, and if need be (fire, terrorist, mad housewife), I can grab the disk and run knowing all my data, images, etc, are safe.

Once I finish manipulating the images I desire (I just delete any unmanipulated images since I have the identical version safe on multiple CD's), I put it in a temporary directory which is a waiting ground to be burned to CD just as the originals were. When I get enough to fill a CD or DVD, I give it an ID the same way (with a code W=working images), tag the ID to the filename, add it to my database.

The best part is that even though most everything is stored on CD's, I have complete access to all my images via the thumbnails, full screen previews, and they are all fully searchable and can be called up and displayed in mere seconds. If I need anything over 640x480 res, I just pull the original CD from the files and copy it to my working directory.

I think one of the keys is to have the CDs created with an ID number, and include the ID number as part of the filename. Then use a catalog program to catalog all the images for easy reference. Everything at your finger tips, and the originals safely tucked away until needed.

The other key for longevity is to have multiple copies of your images on media, and migrate the images from the media before it ages, or when new technologies becomes the new standard. Basically, find out what the stock image houses, National Geographic, newspapers, etc, are doing for archiving all their images. Try to use the same base technologies since. This will pretty much guarantee that you will have a viable migration path for your images in the future. Currently, CD's, DVDs', and hard disks are very safe until new technologies come along. CD's should safely give you 15 years, and by them, either move them to new CD's, or migrate to whatever new technology is being used.

Thats my process. It probably wouldn't be so complicated if I was only shooting for myself. But since I'm doing it for work, its easy to just add my stuff to the workflow and go with the program.

Hope it helps....

No, I didn't speel check or proffred for gramer. And I ain't gonna either!! Way to long to do that!
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Old 10-15-2004   #7
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Opps. Almost forgot to mention negatives and scans. For scans, I also label the negative holder sheet with the ID number that I created, and usually add a -NEG to the CD and filename IDs so that I know the digital images are backed up with an actual negative. The negatives get filed the same way the CDs do, under the ID number in a binder. Unfortunately, I can't create idential duplicates But the digital scan serves to backup the negative, and the negative backsup the CD. So I'm still covered either way.
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Old 10-15-2004   #8
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Thank you to everyone for the great advice. To avoid possible confusion I'm going to refer to the processors as "labs" instead. The nice thing about living in a small community is that I know both of the owners of these labs personally and now after reading the replies I think I need to point out to one of the owners that he has a dust problem with his equipment -- every single roll he has done since he first has offered this service has dust and fibers in the scans. By the way, these are film (negative) scans and not scans from prints.

Thank you for the advice regarding the PS books and lesson programs. I will look into them. And Stephen, thank you very much for sharing your filing system. That is extremely helpful and I think that you have a well thought out process in place. I'll freely admit to being something of a computer idiot: I know certain programs that I use a lot quite wel (AutoCAD, MS Project) but wonder if you could give an example of a catalog program?

Thanks again to all,

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Old 10-15-2004   #9
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I'd suggest a chat with the managers of both your labs to see if the one can increase scan res and if the other can do something about the dust. They need to know about customer problems.

My local lab offers both a "consumer" one-hour service and a "pro" service. The Pro processing is sent to their out-of-town main lab, and comes back in 3 days. The 1-hr processing is done right here in town at this store.

At their nearby store the machinery is out in the open behind the counter, not in a controlled environment. Every time someone comes in the door, dust and lint is kicked up in the air to settle on the negatives as they're fed into the scanner. All prints are made from scans of the negs.

The dirt and lint led me to opt for the more expensive Pro processing. The main lab is enclosed and filtered, etc. Their scans are also higher in resolution; 2000x3000 for 35mm.

I do some minor editing in GraphicConverter, a longitime Mac shareware program from Germany, and take selected scans back to the lab for printing. They make great 5x7 prints, and I expect somewhat larger should be fine too.

I've had Photoshop since version 2.5 but have never learned to put it to good use. GC has easily done what I need, but I'm now running into more that it doesn't do. I'd like to feather edges for burning/dodging areas of the scan, for instance. And I'm told that working with Layers is essential to doing good things with PS.

GC doesn't have those abilities, but it does have nice Levels controls... this is also easy in PS. And maybe something to learn right away, as both powerful and easy! This involves learnging to read and adjust the histogram.

For a valuable article on histograms, see http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...stograms.shtml

This addresses histograms displayed on digital cameras, but it's essentially the same in Photoshop.
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Old 10-15-2004   #10
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You may have hit on the source of the problem with the two labs: the one with the dust/lint problem has their machinery in the open. I had a problem with them when they did conventional printing for me. Upon close examination I noticed that their prints were quite often not sharp, and after examining the negatives (with both a good loupe and under 40x with the microscope) I traced the problem to their enlager being in the store on a wood framed floor (which would vibrate/bounce), whereas the other lab has all of their processing equipment in the basement, away from the public and in the case of their enlarger solidly mounted to a concrete floor. Now that both labs are scanning the equipment is still in the same locations -- the one with the dust problem has their eqipment near the customer area and in the open, and the floors are carpeted. I may have to look into sending my film out -- the "dusty" lab may not be able to control their problem. I'll take it up with the owner all the same. That's a good observation on your part, thanks for passing it along.

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