Guide: Scanning with the Epson v600

First and foremost, I would like to say that I love my V600 scanner. I couldn’t imagine not having it. It’s difficult to imagine the true potential of your photographs until you have total control over how it’s digitized. Sure – there are more sophisticated scanners out there but this scanner does an excellent job for the money. At less than $200, it’s difficult not to get your moneys worth.

As a disclaimer, this article is not intended to be any more than a guide for other getting started in scanning at home or looking from someone else’s perspective. I’m not saying it’s the best but it works well for me.

The Image

Final Edit

I took this photograph on an early morning hike in Hocking Hills, Ohio nearby where I live. I didn’t have my tripod that day but I had Portra 400 loaded in my Mamiya 645 Pro TL (the reviews for each are linked) and had the morning ahead of me.

Step 1 – Scanning using Epson Scan software

To start, I prefer to turn off the ‘Unsharp Mask’ that is on by default in my program. This setting does bump up the sharpness and it does a decent job so if you don’t see yourself wanting to go through all of the steps in editing and you think the scan software renders the colors well, perhaps then you may leave it on.

To follow, I select the histogram tab and make adjustments to the settings of how the software interprets my photo. Particularly on dark(er) photos such as this one, I find it best to lower the bar for what is interpreted as the bottom of the histogram. That is, drag the bottom slider down to just below the histogram. This softens the blacks but maintains the shadows compared with their settings which lose most of my shadows.

I don’t usually mess with the slider affecting the highlights as raising it darkens the photo and lowering it brightens the photo but blows out the highlights too early. That said, in this photo I thought it was worth the cost to brighten up a bit so I made a small adjustment.

Step 2 – White Balancing

Prior to starting the remainder of the steps, it’s important to clean off the image using the clone stamp. I’ve spent enough time doing this that I am now much more careful about blowing off/brushing the negative prior to scanning as it pays off.

I’m going to spend minimal time describing this process as I have already demonstrated my process along with 2 easier/faster alternatives in this article.

In short, using Method 3 in the aforementioned article, create a luminosity mask and set it as the layer mask of a curves layer. Duplicate this layer and invert the mask of the duplicate. This process, in effect, allows you to make adjustments to the darks and lights independently. Using the Red, Green, and Blue channels in the curves adjustment, edit until the white balance is satisfactory.

Step 3 – Curves Layer

Following the same steps to set the white balance, create two new curves adjustment layers with inverse layer masks.

Making edits to each layer separately, I tend to go just past exactly where I like it in the edits. While I am a believer that less is more when editing, I think it’s good to go a little on the extreme side on this step so that I can use the opacity adjustment to get the perfect blend between the edits.

Following this step, I dial back the edits using the opacity adjustment for each of the layers and then together as a group. While this may seem counter productive, I find it easier and faster to dial in.

Adjusting Layer Opacity

Step 4 – Sharpen

There are a lot of techniques to do this step but I prefer to use a High Pass filter. I feel like it does a better job than the scanner software and better than other methods I’ve tried without taking any more time.

To start, merge all of your layers by selecting them all and pressing Command + Alt/Option + Shift + E. This creates a new layer that combines the effects of all those below it. From here, add a High Pass filter.

High Pass filter location

The image will turn an ugly grey color showing you only the texture of the image. I suggest selecting a highly textured part of the image and adjusting the radius of the filter until everything starts to stand out well. If you go too far with this, you will find the image turns really grainy.

High Pass filter

Once you believe you’ve found just the right amount of sharpening, you need set the layer to Linear Light. This will turn the image back away from the ugly grey color.

Set to Linear Light

Below is an example of what this does to the image. It may not seem like much but if you intend to ever print your work, it makes a pretty big difference.

There you have it… A primer to the way that I edit my negatives. I hope you found it helpful and if you have any questions, please feel free to leave them below.

Guide: White Balancing Film in Photoshop

In this guide I am going to walk you through the 3 techniques I employ to white balance (WB) an image. The third method is more comprehensive and the method I use when I’m really taking my time and/or when the WB is really off. The first method is much faster but doesn’t give as good of results and the second method is a blend of the first and third.


Below is the before/after image that I will be using as a demonstration. To complete the edits on the image following white balancing, please see the article where I walk through my techniques for editing/finishing scanned images. Aside from white balancing, it consists of adjusting contrast/brightness and increasing the sharpness of the photograph.

Method 1

This method, as stated above, is a lot faster but does not give as good results. The quality of the WB is lower and it darkens the image too much in my opinion.

The start, open a curves adjustment and using the baster looking icons on the left, select the dark baster to set the “true black” in the image.

While holding down the alt/option key, scroll the dark side of the histogram towards the light side until you start to see some of the image appear. (For B&W images, the histogram is reversed – not that you’d need to WB those images.)

Once you believe you’ve found the “true black” in the image, sample that pixel by clicking on it. Repeat this step to identify and indicate the “true white” of the image using the white baster.

Final Curves Adjustment of Method 1

Below is a final draft of the image using Method 1.

Final Result Using Method 1

Method 2

To start, create a luminosity mask (command + alt/option + 2). Open a curves adjustment (should have applied the luminosity mask as a layer mask) and then duplicate that layer, leaving you with 2 curves adjustments. With one of the curves adjustments, invert the layer mask. (At this step, I usually rename the layers as light and dark.)

On the curves adjustment adjusting the darks, follow the exact same protocol as identified in Method 1 to set the “true black”.

Follow a same protocol for the curves adjustment adjusting the lights. In the end, you should get similar results as to what we got from Method 1 but without the drastic darkening of the photograph.

Final Result Using Method 2

Method 3

To begin, follow the same initial steps as in Method 2 – create 2 curves adjustments with the layer mask set to be the luminosity mask for the one layer and it’s inverse in the other.

I usually start in opposite order here (for no particular reason) and begin with making adjustments to the light layer. I like to zoom in closer to a part of the frame that tends to be lighter and ideally has some color variation.

Here, I typically leave extreme corners alone and make adjustments in the middle of the curves. As indicated by the arrow, you will find a drop-down menu that allows you to make adjustments to the red, green, and blue layers individually. In a very imprecise way, I usually starting playing around with the curves until I get something that seems alright.

In similar fashion, close in on a selection of the frame that tends to be a bit darker and has some diversity in color. In the other curves adjustment layer, follow a similar protocol and work until you achieve good WB.

It’s not uncommon for me to bounce back and forth between the two curves adjustments and continue to hone in the best WB I can get. After all, it’s a game of balance and as you make adjustments to one layer, the other may get off a little.

Final Result Using Method 3

Guide: Getting your first film camera

To start, there are two kinds of people that get into film. Those that inherit a camera and those that don’t. If you were given one from a family member or friend or whatever, I would suggest moving on to picking out film stocks or general advice for film photographers. There is no real reason to replace a fully functioning camera for something ‘better’ for a first camera. For those that need to pick one up, please read on.

The most straight forward advice I or anyone else could give on picking out a camera would be to consider first and foremost opportunity and cost. If you were to really think through what you need or want out of a camera and search around at camera shops, on eBay, craigslist, etc… you’ll probably find a great deal. Since this is how I suggest approaching all things of this nature, I’ll start to lay out some things that should be considered when identifying your first film camera.


Some serious consideration should be made for what would be the cap on the spending. Trying to find a camera and then rationalizing the price can present a danger to your budget. As much as it can be sometimes be fun, it’s rarely the wisest choice. When you think through what the ceiling of your budget is, I would ask yourself if you’re the kind of person that just wants 1 camera with 1 lens. If not, the cost of lenses – particularly the focal lengths of interest – should be factored in when deciding what cameras to look at.


Plain and simple, what do you need the camera to do for you? Are you game for carrying around a light meter or do you want a camera that has a built in meter; or even more- do you want a camera that has an aperture priority mode? Are you okay with manual focus lenses or do you want something autofocus? To a much lesser extent, how are you on manual film advancing? I personally find it very satisfying and it’s something I like about film. If you personally don’t care about it one way or the other, you may want to look at something a bit newer – from the 90’s or so that were much more advanced and had a lot more features.

Size and Weight

Cameras, just like everything else, vary in size and weight. And while you may not think they vary by much, my Nikon F2 with its 28 f/2 is a whopping 42oz – a full pound more than my Pentax K1000 with its 50 f/2. Admittedly, it would be weird if someone knew the ideal weight of their prospective camera. That said, you should probably start to think about what all you want to do with it and ask yourself if you want something small for ease or large if ease wasn’t an issue.

Plenty of people carry their cameras in their backpacks because carrying them otherwise can be unruly or inconvenient. I’m one of those people sometimes – my RB67 w/ lens and prism is almost 10lbs.! With that in mind, I often decide what camera I’m taking out with me with the sole consideration for what I wouldn’t mind carrying around. It’s unlikely the RB67 is going on a several mile hike with me but if I know I’m going to really want a quality shot at the end of the hike, I may carry my 645. The same goes for long walks around a city.

Availability of Lenses

Unless you’re the kind of person who is ‘sure’ they only want one lens for their camera, you’re receptive to expanding your collection of available focal lengths. And if you’re coming from digital, you may even know of other lenses you’d like. Well… Depending on what you want and your price point, some manufacturers may suit your purposes better than others. Some manufacturers switched from a screw mount to a bayonet mount (i.e., Pentax) and some switched from one bayonet mount to another (i.e., Canon) and some maintained the same mount and still makes manual focus lenses to this day (i.e., Nikon). And as you can imagine, the glass from some brands are more expensive than others.

I’ve always found Nikon to be the most expensive. Pentax and Canon are about the same and make really good glass. Minolta is usually the cheapest and widely available. I don’t have much experience with Yashica or Contax lenses but I think about the same as Nikon in some cases and more expensive in others – I don’t know that they would ever be cheaper.

Speciality, Point & Shoot, and Toy Cameras

Chances are, if you want one of these cameras, none of the above really apply to you. One of my closest friends wanted a Nishika N8000 and knew no other camera would do. Another close friend didn’t want anything other than a Polaroid. (both of them ultimately got their cameras) If you know you want a Holga, Polaroid, Nishika, or any other camera like that, I’m not sure why you’ve read this far.

If you want a point and shoot, you and I are in the same boat. I keep meaning to look more into them and pick one up. There are a lot out there and some of them produce really great work. One day I’m going to get one to carry around with me in my work bag so I never have to miss a shot again. (Hopefully*)


I saved this one for last because I doubt it applies to most people. Much like the section above, if you need something other than 35mm, you probably know it. I can’t recommend shooting 120 enough but I can’t speak for shooting large format as I haven’t dived into it yet.

If someone were wanting to consider a medium format camera, much of the above points are still valid. While you can get an RB67 for not much money, they can be a pretty big hassle. From my knowledge, most other 67 format cameras are considerably more expensive. In the 645 format, there are a lot of options- all of which have their pros and their cons. I love my Mamiya Pro TL because it has more functionality than any of my 35mm cameras, is pretty light, and has interchangeable backs. I can’t recommend interchangeable backs enough for people like me. It allows you to change the film at the drop of a hat. I can go from high-speed black and white film to slide film, one frame at a time.


While I have never owned a 6×6 camera, I’ve been tempted by them just as much as the next 120-loving film photographer. If I had to say now what my next camera would be, I would probably guess a classic Hasselblad with a waist-level finder. The only reason I haven’t done it so far is that getting into it – getting the body, a spare back, and a couple/few lenses would set me back way more than the Mamiya and I’m not in a place where money is no issue. If you find yourself in a similar position, you’re not alone.

Almost everyone would like another or a different camera than what they have. Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) is real. But remember – the best camera for you is the one you have and can enjoy. Rather than drop hundreds or thousands more for one camera over another, perhaps consider trying some new film. Don’t forget – photography exists to capture a moment and feeling; the nicest, most expensive gear isn’t going to make that happen for you. Get what you can get, experiment, try new films, try pushing film, grow a passion for photography. It’s worked for me.

Guide: Double Exposures (Multiple Exposures)

The first time I experienced double exposures, it was my grandmother showing me some of her old 6×6 photos in her retro photobooks.  Following that, I found myself going through IG and would be particularly attracted to these photos.  Accordingly, I hit Google and searched for ‘How to take a double exposure’.  There are some resources out there, most of which is for PS and not film.  Having experimented with it enough now and discussing the physics of it with a friend over a beer, I have a much deeper understanding for what’s happening and that has translated to better images. So here we are… I hope I can help you take double exposures you love.

For those looking for a simple how-to: If your camera has a multiple exposure switch, engage the switch and take photos to your heart’s content (I would start with a double exposure before going for something with 3 or more). For those that don’t, no fear – you can do it just as easily.  Take your first exposure and engage the release on the bottom of the camera (the button on the bottom of the camera you press-in when you’re rewinding the film) and “advance the film” like you normally would (make sure you’re holding the button down all the way through the process).  This action will cock the shutter and set you up for your next exposure while leaving the film unmoved.  When you’re done, just continue on as you normally would.

For those looking for more detail and my thoughts on multiple exposures, please read on.

For those that have never tried it before, the rush of a double exposure turning out well is so much more exhilarating than any single exposure can give.  Keep in mind though, a lot of that rush stems from it being less reliable (aka, much more likely to not go your way).  There is something about them that attracts not just my attention but attention for a lot of people.  I feel like half the time someone sends me a message on Instagram or looks at my IG and asks me a question in person, it’s about one of my double exposures.  I am by no means a professional photographer nor a professional at shooting double exposures.  I am, on the other hand, proficient at it and love taking them.


First and foremost, light is everything.  Isn’t it always with photography?  Yes?  But with double exposures, it gets a bit more interesting.  When you take a photograph, the objective – the primary objective – is to limit the amount of light entering the camera so as to have enough to expose the subject without having so much that the frame comes out completely exposed.  So the trick here is to properly expose your shot… twice… It can be harder than it sounds.

When you take your first exposure, the value of every “cell” in the negative is exposed somewhere between 0-100% of its total value (I tend to think of photographs as a grid of cells (like Excel) with a different exposure value in each cell such that it composes a photograph).  Then, when you take your second shot, you are replacing the cell’s value if the new exposure has a brighter value than the first. In the most extreme scenario, a double exposure can be thought of as a single exposure if the first exposure was totally underexposed.  That is, every cell was exposed with a 0% value and could be completely exposed over.  In a less extreme scenario, the first exposure is a standard shot and every cell is exposed between 0-100%.  Let’s say one cell is exposed at 40% on the first exposure and 60% on the second, the cell will be written over to be 60% exposed. Conversely, if the cell is exposed at 60% on the first exposure and 40% on the second, nothing changes.  In this example, I’m referring strictly to B&W film – color film is acts a lot differently because you start blending colors together.

All in all, it’s pretty rare for a shot to unintentionally be completely exposed in one part of the frame and unexposed an another – almost always it’s in the middle of the exposure continuum.  And since there’s no difference as to which is first, there has to be some strategy for underexposing some frames and overexposing others to ensure you keep the parts you want and replace the parts you don’t.

Framing and Composure

Now that I’ve talked through the technical aspects of a double exposure, more practically you have to consider the framing as it will make or break your shot.  As far as exposure is concerned, it takes practice and a lot of forethought but with the right film, there’s a lot of forgiving. Framing, on the other hand, is just as important if not more so and there isn’t a film stock in existence that can correct for botched framing.  Almost all of my double exposures that didn’t turn out were ruined from framing that wasn’t exactly where I needed it to.

To get started with DEs, I would suggest starting with a silhouette for a first exposure and a shot of something with texture as the second.  It’s tough to go wrong with those… If you wanted to go for something more involved, it helps to use a split-image circle and/or microprism circle in the center of most focusing screens to act as a reference.  Some cameras have interchangeable focusing screens – some of which have lines on them to act as references for landscapes or architectural photos but work quite well as reference lines in multiple exposures.

Since every DE is completely different, the way you approach them is different.  Thus, it is pretty difficult to provide any additional, sound advice that can be directly applied to various specific contexts.  Instead, I would suggest that you make a goal to take a whole roll of DEs or half or some significant portion of a roll.  It’s not easy to get into it until you dive in.  Once you begin to push yourself, you’ll start to see where things are working for you and where they aren’t.  You’ll hopefully also start to get some ideas.

As a last note before I show some examples, I’ve found that the more flexible films are, the easier it is to get a double exposure turn out alright.  I’ve taken some shots with more rigid films and it’s much easier to get blown out.  On the other hand, one of the most flexible films I use (Tri-X) can be difficult to get it to behave entirely because it’s exposure latitude is so wide.