Alexey Alexeev Photography (Ambrotypes, Tintypes, Wet-Plate Collodion)

Scanning an ambrotype or tintype

Scanning an ambrotype or an tintype Making ambrotype or tintype is very interesting and rather hard process. The last step of the process is varnishing the plate. Varnish layer preserve a plate from oxidizing. But our work is not finished yet. Usually we need to make a digital copy of our ambrotype. The most common way is to scan an ambrotype or an tintype with flatbed scanner.

So you hold your ambrotype or tintype in your hands. Let make a perfect scan.

You know that ambrotypes and tintypes are positive images so we should scan them in reflection mode. But there is no white point on those images only black point. So we have to scan them in a slightly different way

I tell you a secret: you should scan with opened scanner lid in a dark room (I mean in a room without light not a photo dark room) When you scan in this way you get a perfect black border around your plate - this is a black point for future processing in Photoshop.

Scanning of an Ambrotype or Tintype (scanner Epson v500, v700, 4990)

Now we have to process the raw scan for better image. Let use Adobe Photoshop CS3 or higher. It'll better if you calibrate your monitor before.

Processing - Stage 1. Levels

Processing - Stage 2. Dust removing

Processing - Stage 3. Sharping

We should sharp scanned image because scanner has lenses, glass and there are loss of sharpness after scanning. You can use different approach to increase sharpness: "Unsharp Mask", Edge sharpness in Lab, etc. We will use rather simple method which makes good results: "High Pass" and Overlay.

Processing - Stage 4. Image for web

So we processed a digital copy of ambrotype (or timtype) so we can print it or send to magazine for example. But we need slightly smaller image to publish over the web, or send by email, etc.

So we got two files - one for publications in magazines, prints and another one for web and presentations.