My Method For Scanning Tintypes
I’ve noticed the odd discussion of this topic on this board, and others. I thought people may want to know about a method I have for scanning tintypes. It’s pretty much a mechanical workflow, except for step 8. It’s built on the back of Ctein’s (Digital Restoration from Start to Finish) usual methods of scanning. The difference is that he leaves the scanner histogram snuggly bracketed. I find that that creates too much contrast and is hard to fix in Photoshop (at least I find it so). I’ve found my method produces images that are virtually “finished” except for scratch and damage touchup. The method is as follows:
1. Use 16 bit colour, and 1200 dpi. The extra resolution might be useful in isolating scratches.
2. Use the scanner’s preview to isolate an area of the image that is the most important, such as the face, hair, and the clothing of the subject. Such areas should contain everything from the whites of collars and eyes, to the black of hair or shadows under the folds in the clothes. Avoid the paper surrounds, the frame of the photograph, or areas of light-coloured damage. These will throw out the histogram graph.
3. On the scanner histogram, using the “master” channel, pull the whitepoint slider in until it’s maybe 5 points or so above where the curve hits the ground (just so you’re not accidentally clipping the whites).
4. Leave the blackpoint slider where it is. It should be just above absolute black anyway.
5. Do the same in each of the three colour channels in turn. You will see the photo turning different shades as you do this. Don’t panic, because by the time you’ve finished, it should be black and white again — or close to it.
6. The grey point slider should be around the middle on each colour channel, and on the master channel.
7. Now, the important bit — make sure you are back on the master channel, and pull the whitepoint slider out. The greypoint slider will also move as it will try to stay half-way between the black and whitepoint sliders. The greypoint slider will eventually hit a point where the whitepoint previously was, underneath where the histogram curve hits the ground. (You may need to manually place it about halfway though). It is at this point that you should have a well exposed, and nicely tonally graduated, image.
8. Fiddle about with greyscale slider, or anything else if need be, to alter the photo to your liking.
9. Pull out the marching ants on the preview area until the full image is selected or “previewed”.
My scanner is CanoScan 9000F using ScanGear software. I’m assuming this method will work on anything.