Pale skin colors when scanning film

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by KrisK_, Jun 13, 2020.

  1. Hi,

    I am hoping to get some advice on scanning 35mm film with my PrimeFilm XAs scanner. I have sent my film to a lab before and did not have problems with skin colors. I also developed film before (even in the age when this was the default) and while there is certainly room for improvement, I am doing okay. Scanning is a different story. First of all, a small print on the scanner asks me to insert the pictures in a 321 order which is impossible to do. So, I am assuming what they are trying to tell me is to use ascending numbers/order. I am using VueScan. There are some issues with VueScan such that its film presets brighten the image too much or destroy the pupils in portrait photography. My main question for today, however, are skin colors. What I usually do, is leaving all the color settings on default and only changing the white point to 0.02 to have a flat image that captures more detail (but I also tried without this). My scans are sharp and for most parts, I am okay with the colors. I use gimp and rawtherapee for white balancing, levels, microcontrast, and so on, all seems fine. However, I cannot get skin colors under control. They all come out very pale. This is particularly troublesome as it makes adjusting levels almost impossible. I am using a 50% gray mask/layer to do so and pick whites and black by hand and the midpoint from the black areas of this gray layer in difference mode. This is usually very effective, but as the skin is pale, it remains mostly unchanged. If I change the saturation and so on, the skin changes too slow compared to the rest of the image. My lab has this under control, so it is either the scanner, the software, or a lack of skill on my side (or some combination). As a new user, I cannot post a picture but here is a link: Pasteboard - Uploaded Image . The smaller the face is as part of the overall photo, the more problematic this very pale and gray skin tone becomes. I am sure there are some complex ways of fixing this in postprocessing, but how does my lab do it in seconds or automatically? I am happy to learn.

    cameragary likes this.
  2. The issue appears to be a slight cyan cast.

    I downloaded the linked image above and opened it in the simple image-editor on my phone. Clicked on 'Autocolour' and the skin tone popped to a more normal shade. The same happened when I raised the red brightness using the curves tool. So it appears to be simply a colour imbalance, needing a more red bias, or less green and blue.
    Why impossible?
    It's just indicating which way round to insert a strip of negatives.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
    cameragary likes this.
  3. You might have trouble scanning negatives and getting the same look that you would have from a film lab without fiddling in Vuescan, and if you can get close, outside of it to finish. I use Lightroom Classic, so I just picked up the Negative Lab Pro plugin (there's a trial version). You can shoot your negatives with a DSLR/Mirrorless, or use Vuescan or Silverfast to scan as a negative. I used Vuescan, saved out as a DNG, and ran them through the NLP conversion. In spite of the extra steps, getting results I was happy with using old C-41 negatives was MUCH easier. I'm probably going to go back through to some rolls that just gave me fits years ago and rescan some.

    The software has color models that are a good match for Fuji's Frontier and Noritsu minilab scanners. Also gives you the option to save out an additional TIFF file for each, making it easier to do additional edits using Lightroom's (or another tool's) controls later. If you stick with the DNG, even post conversion, the slider functions are all reversed because it's still a negative "under the hood", even if the preview now shows a positive image.

    The plugin currently only works with Lightroom (Classic), either the standalone v6 or Creative Cloud - the developer has looked at the Capture One SDK, and it doesn't provide what he needs. There are a couple of other similar programs out there, at least one of which is a Photoshop plugin.

    Might not be for you (or anyone else :), but if you have Lightroom, the free trial doesn't take much work to figure out. It took me about five minutes to get up and running reading the guide.

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