In the last article we showed you how to make a custom slide duplicator for 35mm negatives and transparencies. And the first problem you will encounter when you start scanning your colour negatives is how to convert the result to a positive digital file.
When you use a proper film scanner it has built in settings that convert the negative to positive automatically, but the digital files from a slide duplicator look just like the original – negative image with an orange colour.
We’ll not go into the colour – you can find all those technical details here: Why is colour negative film orange?
You may think it’s simply a case of pressing the invert button in your image editing software. That does make the photo look positive, but the orange inverts to a blue colour and that needs fixing.
Here’s how I process photos in Lightroom. You can do similar with most image editing programs.
Below is the imported negative in Lightroom. Scroll down to the tone curve. Notice the line in the graph goes from bottom left to top right.
Click on the bottom left corner and drag to top left, then click top right and drag to bottom right. This inverts the image – notice the blue cast.
Using the WB dropper click on a neutral part of the image to adjust the white balance. I chose the black hair of the boy facing us. This makes the colours more natural. Now adjust the tone sliders to beef up contrast darken shadows and brighten highlights.
The result is a fairly good conversion of your digital negative
If you’ve moved over to digital from film, chances are you will have a collection of film based photographs – either negatives or transparencies. If you don’t have a film scanner you can use your digital camera to digitise these old films.
I decided to do that using my Olympus OM-D. The problem I had was that the usual slide copier, such as the Aico Zoom Slide Duplicator or similar products from the likes of Jessop, Ohnar and Kenlock, is that they were designed for full frame cameras. So when the copier is mounted onto an OM-D (using a T2 mount and Adaptor from Micro 4/3 to T2 camera fitting) the image is cropped and you can only copy the centre (or edge if you adjust the frame position). You cannot copy the full frame.
An alternative is to make your own copier. I dug out the Tamron 90mm f/2.5 macro with Pentax K Adaptall 2 attached, and mounted it on the Olympus body using a micro 4/3 to Pentax Adaptor.
Any macro lens with 1:1 capability will be suitable. Attach the macro lens, turn the camera on and move the slide away from the lens until it comes into focus on the camera’s LCD. This give you a rough indication of position needed for the slide/negative.
Cut a piece of tubing (postal tubes are perfect) to the necessary length. Now find a way of attaching the tube to the lens. I used a combination of stepping rings from the 55mm of the Tamron lens up to 58mm which was the external size of the tube. The tube squeezed into the inside of the ring and locked in place. If this hadn’t worked I would have super -glued a 55mm Cokin series A adaptor to the end.
You can now position the slide negative at the other end of the tube. A budget option is to use Blu Tack to hold the slide frame on the front. You could mount negatives in a frame too. As I have a lot to copy I decided to take off the carrier part of the Aico Zoom Slide Duplicator and mount that on the front of the tube. This ensured a faster throughput of film.
The carrier has three small screws holding it in place on the duplicator. These can be loosened so the whole front section slips off. Don’t unscrew fully as the screws are tiny and fiddly to get back in.
With the custom duplicator assembled it’s time to get to work copying. You can use a household lamp as backlight illumination, or a flashgun, or sunlight. You need to diffuse the light so it’s even across the film surface. The slide duplicator carrier has a diffusing plate built in. If you’re just mounting the slide on the front of the tube put a sheet of white cloth, or several layers of tracing paper in between the film and light source.
Use the camera’s zoom focus magnifier if it has one to focus accurately, making sure the film is centered in the frame and not cropped at any edge. Adjust exposure using the LCD as a gauge. Do a few test shots to check focus, framing an exposure before rattling through your library.
In the next article I will explain how to process the copied negatives. How to process scanned colour negatives
To be successful with bird photography you either need a very long lens or a shorter lens with a remote control (or hide) so you can position yourself far enough away to avoid frightening the creature.
The long lens approach needs to be around 500mm allowing you to magnify the bird so it appears substantially more than a spec on the photo.
The shorter lens approach (300mm or less) and you probably need to hide (in a hide), or use a remote control. This is the approach I took for this shot of a blue tit preparing to nest in a box in the garden. I’d watched the bird’s activity for a few hours and noticed it landed on a particular branch of the nearby tree. So I mounted the camera (an Olympus OM-D EM1) on a tripod and focused on that particular branch. It was about a meter away from the branch and using the 40-150mm gave me a reasonable crop.
The focusing was set to manual so nothing could cause it to shift out of focus and the exposure was also set to manual adjusting to ensure that highlights on the bird wouldn’t be blown out.
I used a Hahnel Gigi T Pro II remote control and attached the receiver part on the camera flash shoe and plugged the cable into the camera.
I could then take the transmitter and sit out of sight, triggering the camera when the bird landed on the branch. To make things easier I used a pair of 8×21 binoculars. With these I could look at the bird and fire when it was in the right position, and then look at the camera LCD as it flicked up the preview of the shot just taken.
To get a cleaner background you should ensure that any background bush is further away from the landing position, also use a large aperture to reduce depth-of-field.
If you don’t have a modern camera with an electronic socket for a remote release you can buy an air release with a bulb to trigger the camera via the cable release socket.
Here are some cable releases and remote controls
The best camera to use to photograph the moon is a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera. With this type of camera you usually have the most manual control, allowing you to fine tune focus and exposure to ensure a sharp and bright photo.
The moon photographed with an SLR and telephoto lens
An SLR usually has an interchangeable lens so you can attach a long lens (telephoto) to magnify the moon to make it much bigger in the photo. A standard zoom of 18-55mm that is normally provided with an SLR is not really long enough. You can use a lens like this but you will have to crop the picture dramatically to make it any decent size on your photo. The more you crop the less detail you will have in the moon.
The best thing to do if you want serious pictures is to buy or borrow a longer lens. A 300mm or above is good – Ideally a 1000mm or longer. You can do this using a 500mm with a 2x converter. The teleconverter sits between the camera and lens and doubles (or trebles with a 3x) the lens’ focal length / magnification. With modern digital SLRs the sensor is smaller than film and gives an effective magnification of 1.5x/1.6x too, so the 1000mm becomes 1500mm /1600mm. This is perfect for frame filling photos.
You will also need a tripod or other support for the camera to avoid camera shake if you are using a long lens, and a cable release / remote control to trigger the shutter. If you don’t have a remote release set the camera to the self timer mode and use that. The reason to use a delay or release mechanism is to prevent any hand contact with the camera that could cause vibration and the possibility of camera shake. This will be more apparent when using extreme magnification lenses.
Position you camera on the tripod or mount and set the lens to its longest setting.
Switch the camera to manual focus and adjust focus around the infinity setting so the moon appears sharp. If your camera has live view, switch to that and use the magnifier to help you focus.
You cannot use the camera’s auto exposure mode (P) because it will be fooled by the black surround of the moon which is really bright. A shot taken on auto will result in a bright blob of a moon with no detail. You need to switch to manual (M) or use exposure compensation.
Although it’s night time you don’t need long exposures the moon is as bright as daylight. Set the ISO to 100, and the aperture to f/11 and the shutter speed to 1/500sec and take a test shot.Â Have a look on the LCD preview screen and see how the photo looks. If it’s too bright either increase the shutter speed to 1/1000sec and/or the aperture to f/16. If it’s too dark, reduce the shutter speed to 1/250sec and/or the aperture to f/8. Then take another photo. Repeat this until you have a perfect exposure.
See article on the Blood Moon