Friday, December 28, 2012

ColorPerfect trial

Today I got around to trying a software called ColorPerfect. The trial version produces the embedded grid of noise in the images. I like the idea of what this software does though the program author goes into a lot academic-ease to say simply, “there is something wrong with the way color is dealt with in the computer, and I think I figured it out.”

The first step in using ColorPerfect is to get your scanner to make a pure image of your negative. Then use the plug-in to inverts the negative. An important aspect that I’ve yet to find a definitive answer is: which side of the negative goes down? The emulsion side is where the image is made in the camera; it is more rough. If the negative is held so the text can be read, the emulsion side is on the bottom. One thing I see from all of my film processing is that this side rarely has machine marks, whereas the other side always seems to. I am pushing the limits of my understanding here, but I believe the emulsion side would be the important one if enlargements/prints were made the old fashioned way. It makes sense that film labs would establish handling techniques that may error to the other, non-emulsion side.

In tonight’s experiments, I put the emulsion side down: opposite of what my Epson V500 says to do. I notice there are no Newton’s rings, a problem that was bugging the bejeezus out of me.

Allow me to place these images in some context. I was on a fun architectural research kick in the last few weeks I was in Portland in late 2011. I’ve long been interested in Art Deco and earlier avante garde sensibilities, and went out and about looking for it. Art Deco design elements often incorporate Egyptian motifs and peacocks. There were hints about this in my blogs from that time, particularly this Nikomat FT2 + TriX one. This home at the southern edge of the Hollywood district has a fascinating history. It was built for the Lebanese consulate in the late 1920’s.

Oh yeah, here I wrote:
The roaring twenties can be interpreted in lots of ways, and I will explore that in the future. The buildings and the art from that time strike a chord for me. I stumbled upon a mansion from 1927 on Ankeny and 33rd as the moon rose above Laurelhurst, made some new friends and took some pictures.
(PortlandMaps listing)
Peacock House, Portland, Andrew D. Barron©12/10/11 [Hasselblad 500c/m, Portra 400, Distagon 50mm]
It appears that I used the 50mm Zeiss Distagon lens (this one). Back to ColorPerfect. The interface is as complicated as I have ever seen. I expected this, given his writing style on numerous related subjects on his website. I found most of it tedious and frankly, annoying. If complicated things can’t be explained simply, to my thinking, you’re not doing your job. That being said, the results are much improved.

In these early rolls I was also getting prints made. I was disappointed in what I was seeing in them and chalked it up to my inexperience with the Hasselblad. But that is not actually the case. I was glad to see (tonight for the first time) that I captured the moon on the negative in the upper left. ColorPerfect allowed some of the highlights in the tiny speck of the disc to be preserved in the “Highlight: Stop-Range-Clip” portion of the interface.

I met a couple walking around as I set up the tripod. She asked if I knew anything about the ‘Peacock House.’ The peacock design elements are not easy to spot. There is one in the metal work framing the door on the right, visible just above the hedge. Check out a detail crop:
Peacock House, Portland, Andrew D. Barron©12/10/11 [Hasselblad 500c/m, Portra 400, Distagon 50mm]

Intrigued, I learned that evening the building was featured in a publication when built. So I headed to the Portland State campus to get it out of the archives. My idea was to photograph and research Art Deco in Portland and I may some day I return to that. A friend mentioned the Egyptian motif of the Blackstone dormitory, so before I got to the library next door, I stopped for these:
Blackstone Dormitory, Portland, Andrew D. Barron©12/11/11 [Hasselblad 500c/m, Portra 400, Planar 80mm]
Blackstone Dormitory, Portland, Andrew D. Barron©12/11/11 [Hasselblad 500c/m, Portra 400, Planar 80mm]
At that time I was having quite a run of remarkable photographs from the lowly Instax 210. The colors from the Instax Wide film are quite a lot different. See?
Blackstone, PSU, Andrew D. Barron©12/8/11
Blackstone, PSU, Andrew D. Barron©12/8/11
I like the pastel vibe I am getting on the Hasselblad scans tonight on my first use of ColorPerfect. I also like the rich saturation with the Instax 210. Which is more real? Looking back, I would say the Hasselblad shots produce a feeling more accurate to how I felt shooting on that day. Yet even in black and white, something is communicated from me to you. Or from the architects to us.
Blackstone Dorm, Portland State University, Andrew D. Barron©12/8/11
Following more leads, I found the Charles F. Berg building at 615 SW Broadway. It was built in 1902 and the art deco facade was done in 1930. Here we see peacocks, pyramids and paisleys.
Charles F. Berg building, downtown Portland, Andrew D. Barron©12/8/11
I will most likely purchase the software because the cost/frustration ratio has well been exceeded since I started to deal with my 120 negatives myself. I wish there was a dedicated 120 film scanner on the market. The hole is so apparent that news that isn’t news makes it. Consider the irony of a headline that reads ‘available for pre-order.’ That means to me that the Plustek OpticFilm 120 is ‘unavailable.’ But at a whopping $2,000, something’s gotta give. In the meantime, the $67 for ColorPerfect to improve the color cast from my $100 Epson V500 seems reasonable.

Oh yeah, this started out talking about ColorPerfect. Here are a few more scans I tried out. Only four days ago I took this with the Hassy:
South Reno snow day, Andrew D. Barron©12/22/12 [Hasselblad 500c/m, Portra 400, Distagon 50mm]
Compare the above to an attempt I made a few days ago, complete with Newton’s Rings and that dreadful green cast:
South Reno snow day, Andrew D. Barron©12/22/12 [Hasselblad 500c/m, Portra 400, Distagon 50mm]
From twelve months ago, some Ektar 100 at Sister’s Rocks.Above Frankport, Andrew D. Barron©12/24/11 [Hasselblad 500c/m, Portra 400, Distagon 50mm]
Still room for improvement with color, but it is getting there.

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