Saturday, December 19, 2015

To correct or not to correct...

While driving home from a high school football game last Oct, we happened across North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area. There was a pull-out, so I thought I might get a few snaps of the place. I think it would be worth going back at a better time of day or maybe pre-dawn and just sit and see what the light does. Anyway, I had Some Ektachrome Slide Dupe film loaded in my Fed-3 and I just snapped a few shots off casually. I developed the film a couple of months later and was in a bit of a rush when I decided to scan the negatives. So I just put them on the scanner and let the auto settings do their magic. Well a couple of things happened. First, I hand wound the film into an old 35mm canister and as it turns out, the light seal was imperfect, so there were some light leaks on the film. Some shots had worse streaks than others and so this in turn caused the scanner to make different decisions about what was 'white' in each frame. So when I came back to view the photos, these shots of the dunes, while taken at the same time in the same place, were different colors. It looked like this.

Sand Tryptich

You can see that the center one doesn't have a light leak in it and it looks more 'true' to the color of sand (mid-day-ish). The other two got shifted with more red and blue. I thought this was sort of an 'interesting' outcome of some random inputs, but I wondered what the same triptych would look like with the color balance corrected so they all looked alike. So I went about rescanning them, using the RGB levels of the middle photo to adjust the other two manually. I do my scanning with the Epson Perfection V600 flatbed scanner and the Epson Scan software that comes with it. It is easy to use and produces results acceptable for sharing online which is about 95% of what I do with my photos. Here is the result of the adjusted photos (sorry about the dust, I didn't bother doing the dust spotting on the second scan).

I like this version, but not as much as I like the first one. That left me with a question though. Is it artistically honest to accept my scanner's decisions resulting in random changes to my images? Can I post those photos and tout their beauty when this was not my intention when I took them? I might just have to leave that one to the philosophers and accept the "happy accident" of light leaks and scanner color shifting. I like the results too much to delete them.