Film Photography

Scanning color slides at home

I enjoy color slide film for the bold, beautiful color it delivers. But I shoot it seldom because the film, developing, and scanning are expensive.

The Velvia I shot recently was a gift, but it costs about $10 a roll in 120 and $18 in 35mm. Other slide films cost about the same — there are no bargain slide films! It cost me $30 plus tax to have those two rolls developed and scanned. Fulltone Photo did the work for by far the lowest price of any of the labs I normally use.

I knew I could cut costs even more by scanning the slides myself, but could I get scans as sharp and colorful as Fulltone’s? Also, Fulltone’s scans are smallish at 1024 pixels square. I can easily get more pixels from my Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II.

I tried it on a couple frames. I thought I’d show you my scans and the Fulltone scans to see what you think. My scans are at least 5100 pixels square — I select each frame by hand in VueScan, so the pixel dimensions vary slightly frame to frame. I shrank them to 1200×1200 for this comparison. WordPress shrinks them further to fit the blog template. I edited them all in Photoshop to my liking — nothing too invasive, mostly stuff like color temperature and exposure.

My scans are first, Fulltone’s are second.

Red flowers
On Talbott Street

Fulltone managed to bring out far better shadow detail than I could get from the CanoScan, VueScan, and Photoshop flow I use. Their scans look slightly sharper than mine.

But the Fulltone scans have a green cast that I couldn’t entirely erase, a cast that isn’t present on the slide. My scanner captured color that looks a little truer to the actual slide. Also, I was able to capture more of the frame than Fulltone did.

I don’t think there’s a clear winner here. Both Fulltone’s and my scans are fine. It’s a roll-by-roll judgment call whether saving $5 in scanning charges is worth the couple hours I’d spend scanning the roll myself. But when I want scans with large pixel dimensions, it’s very good to know that my existing scanning setup produces good results.

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Film Photography, Preservation

And to think that I saw it on Talbott Street

While I had Fujifilm Velvia 50 in the Yashica-12, I met some colleagues for lunch in the hip Herron Morton neighborhood of Indianapolis. I brought the camera along and made a few photos on Talbott Street before I went home.

Most of the houses and apartment buildings in this part of town were built around the turn of the last century. When I moved to Indianapolis in 1994, Herron Morton had declined badly and was not a place I wanted to live. Now it’s gentrifying and I can’t afford to live here, except perhaps if I bought one of the few fixer-uppers left.

Little apartment buildings of four, six, and eight units are common in this part of Indy. I imagine they were once even more common, but during the years of decline so many buildings fell into disrepair and were demolished. Even now, there are plenty of vacant lots on Talbott Street.

On Talbott Street

I photographed this house because it is so unusual. Flat roofs aren’t common on residences here.

On Talbott Street

Some of the vacant lots have new homes on them. This one at least sort of matches the design of the older houses. Some of the new houses are ultra modern and don’t look like they belong here.

On Talbott Street

Here’s one that needs some tender loving care. I’m generally not a fan of fussy Victorian houses but this one looks good to me.

On Talbott Street

I am a fan of American Foursquares like this one. I’d love to live in a house like this, and sit on the porch on warm nights.

On Talbott Street

That’s all of the photos I took on my brief walk along Talbott Street.

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Here in central Indiana, the trees changed colors slowly and dropped their leaves late. It made autumn seem to last a good long time. I know that autumn lasts the same amount of time every year regardless of the trees! But when the trees are bare, to me that’s when winter begins.

We had some good color this year, with strong reds and oranges abounding. I didn’t make a huge number of photos — some of them are on the roll of Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 sitting here on my desk needing to be sent off for processing — but here are some that show our color this year.

Autumn in Boone County
Canon PowerShot S95
Lit tree
Canon PowerShot S95
Looking up
Yashica-12, Fujifilm Velvia 50
Suburban Autumn
Apple iPhone 6s
Suburban Autumn
Apple iPhone 6s
Down the street
Olympus OM-2n, 50mm f/3.5 Olympus Zuiko MC Auto-Macro, Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400
Suburban autumn
Olympus OM-2n, 50mm f/3.5 Olympus Zuiko MC Auto-Macro, Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400

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Photography

A long-lasting autumn

A look at some of central Indiana’s autumn color.

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Film Photography

Autumn on Fujifilm Velvia 50

I want to shoot slide film in the autumn, to capture all the color. You’d think I’d also want to shoot slide film in the spring, which is equally colorful. But no. In my mind, slide film is for autumn.

Leaves

This slide film was a gift from Marcus Peddle, who sent it all the way from Korea. He sent me four rolls; I shot two of them this time. Thanks Marcus! It’s Fujifilm Velvia 50 in 120, so I put it into my Yashica-12.

Zizzy

I shot mostly around the house and along Zionsville’s Main Street, although I did shoot a little in Indianapolis, which I’ll share in a later post.

Red flowers

Downtown Zionsville is such a rich photography environment. We won’t live here forever — Zionsville is nice and all, but I miss Indianapolis a lot. After we move, though, I will miss being able to quickly pop downtown for some photography.

Letters

I’ve shot the Yashica-12 a lot in the last year or so, and I’m getting much better at using the grid on the focusing screen to make my subject straight.

Black Dog Books

In “the village” (as we call Zionsville within its original town limits), people take holidays seriously. Many homes decorate extensively.

Decorated for autumn

The Main Street shops place season-appropriate stuff on the sidewalk. For this photo I should have chosen a narrower aperture and a slower shutter speed to get more depth of field.

Autumn flower boxes

I got the focus right on this one, and I love the shadow play.

Decorated for autumn

This florist could have done more to decorate the front of this shop, but the pastel color of the window frames and door often make me stop for a photograph.

Flower shop

Closer to home, the trees along the back entrance to my subdivision were just starting to change when I made this. As I write this, every tree is ablaze with red, yellow, and orange. But I wrote this on the day before Halloween. By the day this post publishes, most of these leaves will have fallen.

No outlet

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On the retention pond

On the retention pond
Yashica-12
Fujifilm Velvia 50

You are forgiven if you think I went out into the country and found some old swimming hole to make this photograph. It’s actually the retention pond behind my house. Directly beyond it is I-65 — the drone of all the trucks makes this anything but a peaceful place.

I sent this film to Fulltone Photo for processing and scanning. They did a fine job with the processing, but I was disappointed that the scans were only 1024×1024 pixels at 72 dots/pixels per inch. That resolution makes good snapshot prints, but any larger than that and things start looking pixelated.

Many labs offer enhanced scans with much larger pixel dimensions at that same 72 dpi. I haven’t been able to figure out how to make my flatbed scanner do that. I adjust dpi to get the pixel dimensions I want, as for my online work pixel dimensions are everything. I recently shot a roll of Kodak Tri-X in the Yashica-12, and scanned the negatives at 2400 dpi. I got images of a whopping 5192 pixels square. That’s more like it — I can crop deeply if I want, and still have an image with lots of surface area to share online.

I have a lot to learn yet about scanning and the interplay between dots/pixels per inch and raw pixel dimensions.

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Film Photography

single frame: On the retention pond

The retention pond behind my house, on colorful Fujifilm Velvia 50.

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Film Photography

A photowalk through Whitestown, Indiana, on Verichrome Pan

Whitestown is booming. About 15 years ago the tiny Indiana town annexed a large parcel of land to its south and, through developers, started building shopping centers, homes, and apartments. It was making a solid bid to become the next Indianapolis suburb. It is succeeding wildly.

When I moved to Indianapolis in the mid 1990s, Whitestown was just this dying railroad town in the middle of nowhere. It was so much in the middle of nowhere that people used Whitestown as the butt of middle-of-nowhere jokes.

Whitestown, IN

I also heard it said that Whitestown was aptly named because that’s the color your skin had better be if you found yourself there. I’ve heard that said about a number of small Indiana towns. I don’t know if it’s true, but racism is alive and well enough in Indiana that it’s plausible.

As Whitestown expanded, nearby Zionsville realized it had better expand, too, or it would soon be surrounded by Whitestown. Over the last 15 years, all of southeastern Boone County has come to be part of either Whitestown or Zionsville. It’s how the home I live in is part of Zionsville despite being 4½ miles away from its downtown. From my front door, I can walk to Zionsville’s border with Whitestown in just a few minutes.

The only reason Margaret and I ever go up to old Whitestown, about 3½ miles directly north of us, is because there’s a nice brewpub up there in the old school building. Really, the heart of Whitestown is now the modern shopping strip on the main road by our house. They’ve even moved the town hall to that strip.

But I’m forever looking for fresh things to photograph, especially since I’m stuck working at home thanks to COVID-19. I loaded some Kodak Verichrome Pan (expired 6/1981) into my Yashica-12 not long ago and drove up to Whitestown on my lunch hour.

Brewpub
See host
Prayer request
Whitestown storefronts
Lutheran church
Grocerette
Whitestown, IN
Forester
Jeep and bikes

After I photographed the Jeep Cherokee in front of the brewpub, I soon encountered it parked on the main road with its driver inside. He was very obviously watching me shoot the rest of this roll of film. Everywhere I walked, if I turned to look at the Jeep I found its driver looking directly at me. Because you never know if a middle-aged man making photographs with a 50-year-old TLR is going to suddenly bust a store window and start looting.

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