Solving Image Issues

“My DSLR-scan has orange blobs or orange edges”
“My scans always have a blue tint”
“When Lightroom syncs my conversion to mobile or web, they get messed up”
“I’m converting a black and white photo, but it is showing up as having a tint to it, and not pure black and white”

Orange Blobs And Orange Edges

If you are DSLR-scanning, one of the most common issues I see is getting orange “blobs” across your image, orange “leaks” around the edges.

This means that somewhere in your scanning process you either have uneven light hitting the negative, or you have light reflecting on your lens, camera sensor, or film surface.

It’s crucial that you follow the best practices for scanning with a digital camera to avoid these issues.

A few tips that may help in particular:

  1. If you are using a light pad, make sure to mask out any light that isn’t directly illuminating the negative. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Some dark construction paper with a mask cut out will do. Make sure it is a bit wider than the negative itself.
  2. Make sure your negative is close to whatever is diffusing the light. For instance, if your negative is quite far from the diffused light, the film holder will cast a shadow around the edges, leading to bright orange edges (because it’s inverted)
  3. Be sure to use your lens hood
  4. Take off any filters that are on your lens (like UV filters)
  5. Shoot the emulsive (matte) side of film facing towards camera (it’s less reflective and less likely to catch the light reflecting back from your camera/lens).
  6. Make sure your aperture is at f/8.0 to avoid lens vignetting.
  7. Shoot manual and expose with your DSLR so that the negative is just right of center in preview histogram on camera. (If the digitization is extremely under-exposed, it could exacerbate unevenness issues during processing)

Scans Always Have Strong Blue Cast

Before color correcting, most color negatives will have some blue/cyan color cast to them (the inverse of the orange mask). In most cases, though, this cast should be easily corrected by either the “AutoNeutral” / “AutoWarm” WB settings or the static film profiles (which add warmth to offset the mask).

But if that isn’t enough, here are a few things to look out for:

  • If you are working with a TIFF file, make sure you do NOT use Lightroom’s colorpicker to sample the film mask - this is a step that is only helpful for RAW DSLR scans or RAW DNGs from Vuescan/Silverfast. In fact, this step will end up ADDDING strong blue saturation when you do it on a TIFF file (due to a difference in the way that LR handles color balance for TIFFs vs RAW).
  • If you are working with a TIFF file, make sure you have turned OFF color correction by your scanning program. When it tries to color correct the negative itself, it ends up adding a lot of color issues to the inversion. You want the purest possible output with no corrections from your scanner.
  • If you are working with a RAW file, make sure the Camera Profile is loading correctly, with no errors. If the camera profile is not loading, it will lead to incorrect colors.

Once you have followed the steps above, you should be able to get natural color balance quite easily.

  • Try the “AutoWarm” setting - This specifically measures any cyan/blue cast in the conversion, and corrects for it.
  • Make sure either the “AutoWarm” or “AutoNeutral” setting is your default. If you have changed your default to something else (like “no” color corrections), you should change it back to be your default. You can do that by getting your settings the way you want, and hitting the “Save” button above the tonal adjustments sections in Negative Lab Pro.
  • Try to adjust the warmth with the Temp/Tint settings - don’t fret over the numbers – There should be plenty of edit-ability in these settings to correct even large color cast. It is not unusual for the correct settings to be quite high in terms of the yellow and magenta that needs to be added to the scene to make it balanced. DON’T GET HUNG UP ON THE NUMBERS. If you’ve used Photoshop plugins before, it is also applying heavy color corrections internally, it is just doing it destructively behind the scenes, in a way that you can’t revisit. So with Negative Lab Pro, it may feel like it is having to make a lot of change, but it is just allowing you to adjust these assumptions on a foundational level, which will lead to the purest possible results.

Lightroom Image Sync Issues

Lightroom Mobile CC needs the underlying “Negative Lab Pro” camera profiles to correctly display converted files. Unfortunately, the profiles will not automatically sync from Lightroom Classic CC or Lightroom CC 2015 and earlier. They will only sync from Lightroom CC Desktop. See this post for how to fix Lightroom sync issues.

Black And White Image has Color Cast

There are two possible solutions:

  1. Make sure that during conversion, you set the color model to “B+W” - otherwise the resulting conversion will not be perfectly black and white.
  2. Hit the “RESET” button (above the tone section in Negative Lab Pro) to zero out any existing settings. If your saved default settings include some kind of color toning, that toning will be applied, even to the black and white image. You can go into each of the color tabs to zero those out, or just hit the “RESET” button to zero everything out.