For Better Photo Scanning Results, Focus on Accurate Tone Reproduction

Posted by ed oboyle on Sat, May 04, 2013 @ 06:00 AM

For Better Photo Scanning Results, Focus on Accurate Tone ReproductionYou don’t have to be a professional photographer to possess professional looking digital photos. The beauty of scanning images yourself or using a photo scanning service is that you have the ability to manipulate the digital photo quality. But to fix a photo, you first need to understand the problem. Have you ever seen a photo that seemed to fall a little flat but couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason? That ‘flatness’ you saw was likely inaccurate tone reproduction, one of the most common imaging problems. Whether it occurs in the original picture or as a result of a scanning mistake, it’s easily fixed.

Spotting Tonal Distortion

When we talk about tone, we’re referring to the brightness of the picture or the light and dark qualities. For a picture to really pop, it needs a certain level of contrast. For a photographer, this is similar to selecting the right exposure. You know that too much light will wash out your subject and eliminate shadows while too much darkness won’t highlight details. Ideally, all pictures need to have a wide tonal range. This guarantees that the lightest and darkest points as well as everything in between, known as mid-tones, are well represented. But how do you tell if the tones of your picture aren’t correct?

Using the Histogram 

This tool is standard for most image processing software programs and will appear as a graph. Don’t let that scare you away. Reading a histogram is easy. It uses a scale ranging from 0 to 255 to measure the tones of a photo. On the right side of the graph, pure white is represented by a value of 255. On the left side of the screen, pure black is represented by a value of 0. So, if the histogram of your image seems to be concentrated towards the left side of the graph, you know that the tones are too dark. When the histogram appears as a smooth shape extending across the entirety of the graph, you know that your photo contains the right combination of mid-tones, shadows and highlighting.

If this sounds like a simple task, great! There are a few ways to scan photos and get started. But if you don’t have time to read a graph for each picture, we understand. Here at FotoBridge, our professional photo scanning services will help recreate your picture the way it was intended. 

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Topics: tone reproduction, photo scanning

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