I remember some things longer than others.

As I've been scanning my negatives from 1983, I saw a photo that reminded me of a statement made by my friend "E" just before I took it in May 1983. It was "You can't really get good yellows in photographs". At the time I had just loaded my first roll of Fuji HR film into my camera. Fuji had been recommended to me by Peter Hatherly of Peter Hatherly Colour (the photo developer I trusted) as offering better and brighter photos than Kodak's film at the time. I think that I had also recently read magazine articles singing the praises of Fuji's new film. So I took a photo of the yellow tree we were looking at, hoping to prove her wrong.

The resulting print was nice and yellow - but "E" had a point, it might not have been quite as bright as the original.

Now that I come to scan my old films, I'm intrigued (shocked) to discover that the colours were initially looking awful. Specifically it is my early Fuji films that look bad.

I've discovered that using the Nikon/Applied Science Fiction "Recovery of Color" option restores the colour. This raises the question: Have my films (shock, horror) faded? Or is the colour balance of the Fuji film just "different" to Nikon's default settings that perhaps favour Kodak's colours?  (Other people's films fade. Surely not mine. So I'll go with the "Fuji negative colours from the early 1980s were strange" theory for the moment.)

Examples: (left) Default, which looks rather green; and (right) with ROC, which is much more neutral and has a greater range of tones:

Image:"You can’t really get good yellows in photos" Image:"You can’t really get good yellows in photos"

My original yellow tree was also looking very very sad (and not very yellow) when it was scanned without any special settings:

Image:"You can’t really get good yellows in photos"

It then looks better with (left) ROC and better still (right) with ROC plus some tweaking in Paintshop Pro to clarify and add contrast and slightly increase saturation:

Image:"You can’t really get good yellows in photos"  Image:"You can’t really get good yellows in photos"

The final picture on the right most closely matches the original print by Peter Hatherly Colour in my photo album (which doesn't seem to have faded). I'm about 99% sure that it's also the photo that most closely matches the way the original scene appeared to the naked eye.

The moral of this story?  Bright yellows are difficult to reproduce. But I've got (computer) capabilities now that make it a lot easier.   (Now all I need is something that allows pinks and purples to be reproduced accurately. They are almost impossible!)

PS: I was very pleased in the 1980s by the quality of Fuji's HR film. Its pictures seemed much brighter and sharper. It was my "usual" film for many years.

(By the way: I've got a problem: I've spent most of tonight playing around with repeated scans of this single negative. And I've still got maybe 14,700 to go. As of tonight, 11 films scanned, ????? to go. Arghhhh.... I'm going to have to get faster at this.)

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Anthony Holmes April 19th, 2007 11:31:54 PM

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