I'm trying to create really quick, low-quality scans of sheets of sleeved color negatives for my electronic catalog. I am not trying to scan negatives in the proper sense (i.e. to actually produce usable, high-quality images).

With a reflective (not transparency/photo) scanner, the scanned image that results is exactly as I would expect: "negative" images with the orange color cast of the developed film base. What method can I use to quickly remove the orange color cast, and invert the image (or, conversely, invert the image, and remove the cyan color cast). Ideally, I'm looking for steps I can use to create a Photoshop action sequence to automate this process.

  • There is some info on this which you may find useful here: jeffreysward.com/editorials/colorneg.htm
    – osullic
    Sep 2 '16 at 9:17
  • 3
    Setting White Point outsde of a frame (on the orange edge) should remove the color cast.
    – Zenit
    Sep 2 '16 at 9:36
  • Could you edit the post to include one of the negatives? Sep 2 '16 at 12:10

Alright well I didn't have one of your exact negatives to work from but here's a quick solution for you:

  1. Convert to Lab Color Mode
  2. Do a Curves Adjustment and invert the L, a, and b channels. To do this pull the black point all the way up and white point all the way down.
  3. Now its still got a color cast. Without knowing (and really seeing) the exact color film its hard to give an exact answer but go into the A channel and move the White Point which is now on the bottom right up a little. Now do the same with the B Channel's white point. If you have a reference point in the image that should be white or black you can use those for precision.

enter image description here

Your image is now fixed though it might look washed out, again this can depend on the exact film.

enter image description here

Then do another Curves adjustment to bring it to a more final state.

enter image description here

  • Thanks, Ryan. Unfortunately, the steps above are no different than simply inverting the image (regardless of color space): the orange color cast simply becomes a cyan color cast. I think the issue lies in the comment made by @WayneF : with a reflective scan, the color info just isn't there - not there to use your method, that is. But that's what I'm trying to address: I don't have the option of scanning an entire sheet of negatives as transparency, so I need to convert a reflective scan. Sep 8 '16 at 19:20
  • The above does not have a color cast at all. If you could post one of your negatives to IMGUR I'd like to see why you think otherwise @the_meter413 Sep 8 '16 at 19:59

Reflective scans of color film is not a good plan, the design is to use transmitted light to utilize the dyes.

But to answer your question, the Photoshop Curve Tool (menu Image - Adjustment - Curves, or CTRL M) has a Preset (top line) of Color Negative, which inverts and removes orange. This is relatively poor too, because the extreme shifts clips the data seriously, but it does do a mediocre job.

Actual film scanners instead remove the orange by increasing the scan time of the blue and green channels, analog light suffers no clipping,


Scan the image, import to PS, crop to size to reduce excess white. Open curves and select colour negative RGB preset. This will invert the image and remove the orange base.Adjust the curves for R, G and B so that the colour is contained between lightest and darkest setting. from here play with colour balance if you wish


Use negfix8: it is a bash-script which will render your scanned negatives to positives. Works quite will - in some cases better than SilverFast8. https://sites.google.com/site/negfix/

I've written a wrapper which will convert all scanned negatives in a directory. Message me, if you want to try it.

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