Analog, meet digital...

Tarn Hows, Cumbria

Although my photography has been divided between film and digital since I started, until recently I'd never really combined the two.  My negatives would be developed and printed, usually by my good friend, master printer Stuart Keegan, and if I scanned them, it would be to recreate a digital version of the prints (e.g. my Portrait of 18 Rugby Street shots on this blog).

I've loosened up a bit though and become slightly less puritanical.  I recently dug out some medium format negatives that I shot last summer in the Lake District, got a couple drum scanned professionally and bought myself an average scanner to see what results I could get myself...

Tarn Hows, Cumbria

Drum scanning is notoriously expensive.  I wasn't sure why until I saw the price of the machines that do it.  For a super-high resolution scan (which is kind of half the point), it's around £100 per scan in London.  I can't afford that!  However, I came across Tim Parkin and his business - he charges more like £15 per scan.   I was slightly nervous sending my negs in the post to Yorkshire, but Tim (check out his beautiful landscape photography) reassured me that they've never had any registered post go missing. 

I gave it a go, and I'm glad I did - the results were excellent.  I'd previously tried scanning the same negatives with an Imacon scanner (the next best thing, and also not cheap), and while the results were good, the colour was way off (almost certainly my fault).  There was a noticeable improvement with the drum scans, in detail and tonal transitions, but perhaps as importantly for me, the colour correction was spot on and put me in a much better starting place for my processing in Lightroom.  I processed the files very quickly - taking the 'less is more' approach - and the results still 'feel' like film to me, despite now being digitally-worked files.  The first two images, from Tarn Hows in the Lakes, are the ones Tim scanned.  The second two (George on Walney Island and Viv in the Chilterns) I scanned myself using my cheap but ok Epson V600: I like them too and am happy with the results, but they took a lot more work to get them where I wanted them... I might send those up to Tim as well and have another go!

Walney Island, Cumbria

The Chilterns