I'm mostly a film-and-paper photographer: I take pictures, process the film and then make prints in the darkroom. The end-product of what I do is very definitely a bit of paper.
But I'd like to be able to show representations of these prints digitally (ie on the internet...). I'd be interested in knowing what the best way to do this is, and also how it's done professionally. I am specifically interested in digital representations of the print: things that will be displayed on a screen, not on producing physical copies of it on paper.
Obviously such a representation can never be exact – there's no way of representing things like texture of the paper surface on a screen for instance – but I want to be able to produce digital representations of my work ('my work' being 'prints') which will give people the best idea I can of what the physical object looks like.
There are three obvious approaches:
- scan the neg (I can do this) and then process the digital copy of it in such a way that it looks like the print I would have made;
- take a very careful photograph of the print, controlling white-balance and so on (so I get a good representation of the paper colour), and use that as the image;
- scan the print with a flatbed scanner (this is a variation on the previous approach, really).
The first of these is both hard and unappealing: it requires me to do a lot of work I'm not very interested in to reproduce what I already do in the darkroom, and also may or may not do a good job of representing what the print actually looks like.
The second I can do, and it should be reasonably easy. Keeping the prints flat is the hard bit, but I can mat them if need be.
I can't currently do the third, but I could buy a flatbed scanner if it's clearly the best approach.
I'd be interested in knowing two things.
- What other people do who have the same problem but don't have access to the resources that, for instance, museums &c have?
- How this is done professionally – if museums or galleries, say, want to produce web pages with good images of physical prints, how do they do this?
I appreciate that a lot of the appearance of things is down to screen calibration: I specifically don't want to address that problem: rather I'm interested in how I could make a digital representation of a print which has the best chance of being displayed well on a properly calibrated screen.