In previous posts I have described my efforts at scanning old negatives using a digital camera, macro lens and a light table.I have had mixed success with the process for converting the negatives into positives with some films responding better than others.I was okay with the output but thought things could be better.A YouTube video showed up on my page that was about scanning negatives with a digital camera and I decided to watch to see if they did anything different to me.The technique for shooting the negatives was similar enough but they introduced me to a Lightroom plugin called Negative Lab Pro.
I downloaded a trial of the software and gave it a go.I was sufficiently impressed with the output that I stumped up the cash for the full version.It isn’t cheap but, given that I can now use it on several thousand images, I figured it was worth the investment.The plugin requires a small amount of effort.I revert the images back to a normal San without any of my previous edits and conversions.The first thing to do after that is to take a white balance reading from some of the visible edge of the film to neutralize any color shift.Then you crop in on the image.Apparently, it is important to avoid getting any unexposed edges in shot as this messes with the algorithm.
Then you open up the dialog box.It analyses the image and does a conversion.You then get some basic sliders to tweak the settings such as exposure and color balance.There are some auto setting check boxes but I haven’t found them to be too helpful so far.Then you click okay and the image is ready to do further editing in Lightroom.You can also do batch conversions of images if you want although I think it is probably better to focus on individual processing.I have been playing with this on a range of images so far and I like the results.My old negatives are not that great and this is not going to suddenly make them amazing but I am impressed how much more I can get out of some of the scans using this software.
I am a latecomer to Instagram. I have had an account for quite a while but I did not use it much and certainly did not spend much time checking it out. One of the reasons was that it was too bloody difficult to use. It wanted to use pictures on my phone so I had to have either taken them on my phone or processed them and migrated them to the phone to upload them. This was more hassle than I could be bothered with. Then someone created LR Instagram.
This is a plugin for Lightroom that allows you to post directly to your Instagram account from within Lightroom. This changes everything. After installing the plugin (and I made a donation towards it to give me unrestricted access), you have a publish collection available in the Library Mode where you can add images to your account. I have also set it up to use the keywords as hash tags which can apparently increase the reach of the shots. Now I can add stuff to the account with ease. I tend to create a folder with shots I want to share on Instagram and then add them periodically. Things that are more current show up pretty quickly though. I don’t know why Instagram is so restrictive in the upload options and, since it is, I am not sure how this one made it through but I am glad it has.
I am a little late to discovering the Enfuse plugin for working with HDR images. I started out many years ago using Photomatix. At the time, it was the go to software for creating HDR images. Then Adobe got a lot better with their HDR software within Photoshop and I started to use that. Even more recently, Adobe built HDR processing in to Lightroom and I didn’t need to go to Photoshop at all. The HDR software worked reasonably well so I stuck with it. I sometimes felt that it didn’t do as good a job of using the full range of the exposures but it was okay.
I wasn’t entirely satisfied though so have kept an eye on other options. Someone mentioned Enfuse to me so I decided to give it a go. It is a plugin for Lightroom and, in the free download, you can try it out but with a limitation on the output image size of 500 pixels. Obviously this isn’t useful for anything other than testing but that is the point.
The first thing I tried it on was a shot I made at Half Moon Bay looking up at a P-51 Mustang prop and directly into the sun. This is certainly as much of a range of exposures as you are likely to get. The perfect thing for an HDR trial. The results in the small scale file seemed pretty impressive so I decided to buy the package. There is no fixed price. You make a donation via PayPal and get a registration code. I am impressed by the quality of some of the work people put out so I am happy to donate for what they do. With the software activated, I reran the P-51 shots. Below is the version I got from Lightroom’s own HDR and following it the version from Enfuse.
I did have some issues initially. Lightroom was not reimporting the image after it was created. This turned out to be an issue with the way I named the file in the dialog and a tweak to that seemed to fix things. Strangely, it had been fine on the trial so I have no idea why it became an issue but it is done. I also played with a slightly less extreme case with an F-22 and, as above, the Lightroom version is first and the Enfuse version is second. I was really pleased with the result on this one with a very natural look to things. So far, I see Enfuse being a useful tool for my HDR going forward.