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Rory Williams

Inverting Black and white Negative files.

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I shoot exclusively B+W negative film fp4  as I have done for 40 years and I now copy my negatives using a copy set up with bellows and nikor copy lenses on a  digital camera and light box. I have abandoned Photoshop/lightroom and negative lab pro on recommendation from a fellow professional. He shoots only digital. I am struggling to get a decent conversion. I've tried everything and I simply cannot get a decent result. The inverted image is weak and lacks contrast no matter what I do. Any help would be much appreciated. 

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Too early here for me to give a more detailed answer but here is a starting point.

Use the curves adjustment layer to fix the gamma. 

A B&W film negative has all the information but that information is transformed once with the exposure and development of the paper and again with the light shining through the emulsion on the paper. The former is more important than the latter (which can be disregarded).


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I use a film scanner (Nikon LS 50). The few times I have scanned black-and-white negatives (or positives) they have come out fine using either VueScan or SilverFast.

John


Windows 10, Affinity Photo 1.7 and Designer 1.7, (mainly Photo), now ex-Adobe CC

CPU: AMD A6-3670. RAM: 16 GB DDR3 @ 666MHz, Graphics: 2047MB NVIDIA GeForce GT 630

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32 minutes ago, Old Bruce said:

Use the curves adjustment layer to fix the gamma. 

I see a way to adjust gamma in the Levels adjustment. If you really meant curves, how would one use that adjustment for gamma?


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 1903 (18362.356), 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00Gz, GeForce GTX 970
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17 hours ago, Rory Williams said:

I've tried everything and I simply cannot get a decent result. The inverted image is weak and lacks contrast no matter what I do. Any help would be much appreciated. 

It would help if you provided a TIFF or other lossless version of one of your negatives. Then we could experiment and provide advice based on what you're actually using.


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 1903 (18362.356), 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00Gz, GeForce GTX 970
Affinity Photo 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.486 Beta   / Affinity Designer 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.486 Beta  / Affinity Publisher 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.499 Beta

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5 minutes ago, walt.farrell said:

I see a way to adjust gamma in the Levels adjustment. If you really meant curves, how would one use that adjustment for gamma?

Manually and by eye, I use the term gamma to mean the average slope of the midtones.


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It takes such a lot of fiddling by eye to get a decent result. As most negs are different workflow can be slow. I've been using Negative lab pro which is brilliant. 30 seconds to convert a neg. However it only works with Lightroom and I'm happy with Affinity as a program. I don't want to have to return to Adobe. I thought there may be some quick method to get a decent result without having to fiddle with curves and go through the laborious trial and error. I appreciate your suggestions. 

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+1 for Vuescan


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Again, without seeing what you're working with it is difficult to make any  suggestions, Rory. A sample file or two would help us help you.


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 1903 (18362.356), 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00Gz, GeForce GTX 970
Affinity Photo 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.486 Beta   / Affinity Designer 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.486 Beta  / Affinity Publisher 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.499 Beta

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I am quite new with Affinity Photo and I am learning about its features and capabilities by reading these topics, and fiddled a bit with b/w negative processing, but just with a quickly googled low-res sample negative, which of course is not even nearly the same as working with a RAW file. But in search of trying to create different adjustments for certain typical workflows I could not find a way to save adjustments, not individual, nor a way to chain them to a saved batch process. Am I missing something?

Anyway, perhaps you could shed some light on workflows you had when using Lightroom + Negative Lab. E.g., the example below shows manipulation which I think involves features like adding tones with duo/tritone channels and then flattening back to grayscale, which do not seem to be available in Affinity Photo, so I am not sure if it is possible to create such workflows there. But how straight forward are these kinds of negative conversion processes when using Lightroom + Negative Lab?

3F_original_saved.thumb.jpg.271453590b2f6327736bf658b3755c4b.jpg

Compare this with the basic conversion done in the following Affinity Photo document, which only has the inversion, level and shadow adjustments applied on the Layers palette:

3F_sample_workflow.afphoto

3F_sample_workflow.jpg.aed641bdc192b1199d3dbb249ac0218b.jpg 

...and compare this with the basic conversion created with Tritone curves in Photoshop (without much consideration, but coloring different gray levels with Pantone Warm Grays), simply to try to simulate the example given in the first image which shows negative conversion of a Hasselblad FFF raw image:

3F_sample_tritone_ps.jpg.2481c2ca489e5725eaf6d036485a1d05.jpg

My point is that these kinds of conversion processes involving inversion, basic level adjustments and duotone based toning can be saved as an action in Photoshop, which could then be used as basic workflows in negative conversion. Is something like this possible in Affinity Photo at this stage?

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The workflow in Lightroom is simple. Open the file. Open negative lab pro. Click Convert. It's done in about 5 seconds. Post adjustments are available before saving it I rarely need to. Couldn't be easier. Whatever it's doing it does a very good job indeed. All my work is landscapes so I usually finish off using silver effects pro. I love affinity and I'm sure if I get more proficient with it I can achieve the same results. I was hoping to avoid to much time fiddling. I apologise for not posting a sample. I live high in the mountains of Galicia and I'm busy getting the old house more wind proof for the winter. 

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5 hours ago, Lagarto said:

My point is that these kinds of conversion processes involving inversion, basic level adjustments and duotone based toning can be saved as an action in Photoshop, which could then be used as basic workflows in negative conversion. Is something like this possible in Affinity Photo at this stage?

You can save adjustment presets, and apply them manually to other images later.

You can also record a macro as you make adjustments, and replay that macro later on another image. If you do that, you can also create a batch job to process a group of images, and apply that macro to each image as part of the batch job.


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 1903 (18362.356), 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00Gz, GeForce GTX 970
Affinity Photo 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.486 Beta   / Affinity Designer 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.486 Beta  / Affinity Publisher 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.499 Beta

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2 minutes ago, walt.farrell said:

You can save adjustment presets, and apply them manually to other images later.

You can also record a macro as you make adjustments, and replay that macro later on another image. If you do that, you can also create a batch job to process a group of images, and apply that macro to each image as part of the batch job.

Ok, thanks! Time to read manual ;.) 

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52 minutes ago, Lagarto said:

You can save adjustment presets, and apply them manually to other images later.

I can see that a preset can be created in Develop Persona (as per setting, e.g., use reversed curve to invert the negative), but it seems not elsewhere? Recording macros, on the other hand, seem to crash Photo as soon as Develop is finished... So I think it is more or less manual job at this stage.

EDIT: Macros do not seem to be availabe as panel in the Studio menu when Develop Persona is active so I guess macros are not supposed to be used with Personas (and for that reason crash the app if change of Persona and subsequent acceptance of operationds done there occurs at part of macro recording process).

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11 minutes ago, Lagarto said:

I can see that a preset can be created in Develop Persona (as per setting, e.g., use reversed curve to invert the negative), but it seems not elsewhere? Recording macros, on the other hand, seem to crash Photo as soon as Develop is finished... So I think it is more or less manual job at this stage.

No, you can't record a macro during Raw development; sorry for missing that aspect of your question.

For adjustments outside of the Develop Persona, look for the Add Preset button, e.g.,

image.png.f95a5293b6db6d3c7a9419c62acccac3.png

You can access those presets later using the Adjustments studio panel.


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 1903 (18362.356), 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00Gz, GeForce GTX 970
Affinity Photo 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.486 Beta   / Affinity Designer 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.486 Beta  / Affinity Publisher 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.499 Beta

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15 minutes ago, walt.farrell said:

You can access those presets later using the Adjustments studio panel.

Thanks, actually much more useful. B/W negatives photographed with a digital camera most probably come as RAW images, but I am not sure how useful it is to make adjustments there. Some things might be, but generally ability to save settings in the general UI, and record them as macros, works really well. I now noticed that batch jobs actually allow RAW image development and then postprocessing with macros so it seems this could work really well!

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42 minutes ago, Lagarto said:

I now noticed that batch jobs actually allow RAW image development and then postprocessing with macros so it seems this could work really well!

Yes, batch jobs can process Raw files. However, they currently do so without applying any of the processing done by the Develop Assistant that would occur if you Opened them directly into Photo. That means that they will start out looking different from how they'd look in the Develop Persona, and will thus Save differently, unless you have disabled all of the Develop Assistant settings.


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 1903 (18362.356), 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00Gz, GeForce GTX 970
Affinity Photo 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.486 Beta   / Affinity Designer 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.486 Beta  / Affinity Publisher 1.7.3.481 and 1.8.0.499 Beta

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55 minutes ago, walt.farrell said:

Yes, batch jobs can process Raw files. However, they currently do so without applying any of the processing done by the Develop Assistant that would occur if you Opened them directly into Photo

That's mostly fine in batch-jobs anyway. And for individual images fully manual workflow from start to finish. 

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4 hours ago, walt.farrell said:

You can save adjustment presets, and apply them manually to other images later.

You can also record a macro as you make adjustments, and replay that macro later on another image. If you do that, you can also create a batch job to process a group of images, and apply that macro to each image as part of the batch job.

Excellent advise. I can see some late nights ahead to really get to grips with the program. 

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