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  • Writer's pictureSey Rosen

The Hybrid World of Analog & Digital Photography

Sey Rosen writes about the Hybrid Photography World of Analog and Digital.

With the arrival of the new Electronic Digital Technologies and the existing traditional Analog Technologies, the Hybrid process which has been around for decades has improved, advanced, and become available at a reasonable cost to all image creators, to enable the printing of advertising, magazines, photo-reportage and documentary stories, quality Art and Photo books, etc. The main reason that Hybrid Imaging was only used by professionals was the exorbitant costs involved in handing over their work to the outside labs for drum-scanning and preparation of the images for printing. Let’s talk about Analog to Digital image post-processing today.

image: Sey Rosen

As a veteran street photographer, I’ve seen the resurgence of interest in analog photography. Hybrid processing is the practical way to have the best of both worlds: shoot film and handle converting it digitally for sharing or printing without a darkroom. It’s the process of first obtaining images using film and then converting those images to digital files using a scanner. The ultimate goal of image post-processing is to produce visually pleasing images and to increase the conspicuity of findings.

The steps we need to take to create Hybrid images and as this is a technology conversion process we naturally start with the Analog Image. Let me share the flow below:-

1- Analog film/slide/print. – Making the image in an Analog camera on film or slides and then using the wet darkroom processes including printing the image on paper, if required.

2 – Scanning: converting the resulting negative or slide or print to create a Digital file which is then uploaded to your chosen device – desktop PC, Mac, laptop, Macbook, iPad, Android tablet, etc.

Scanning is as important as recording the image on your Analog media. In actual fact, it is re-recording and converting the image to a different media and technology. It is re-making the image. The essential piece of equipment in Hybrid Photography is the SCANNER. According to the requirements of the image maker, today we have film, slide, or print scanners that are available from tens of dollars to industrial drum scanners at tens and thousands of dollars. Just as there are decisions to be made in choosing the right tools for you – cameras, lenses, film, chemistry, DSLR, Mirrorless, Bridge, Point & Shoot, budget, etc. – so are there choices to be made with Scanners. The type of Scanner you use is a function of your needs and budget. For those of us that simply want to digitize old ‘happy family’, holiday, and travel snaps to share with family and friends on the world wide web, the simpler, cheaper scanners are more than enough. For advanced amateur and professional photographers, the higher-priced prosumer high-resolution flat-bed scanners and specialized software are the names of the game.

The other option is to photograph the negative, slide, or print with a DSLR or Mirrorless camera and macro lens, but here too the workflow is tedious and needs to be meticulous but the gain is being able to shoot the Digital copies in RAW. You can also be lucky to find a pre-used prosumer scanner e.g. Canon CanoScan series and Nikon Coolscan series, at a cheaper price, but beware that these scanners are no longer in production and Drivers may not be compatible with your actual modern computer, so needs to be verified in advance, again workarounds can solve this problem. I’m not going into detail here on all the available options, YouTube has an extensive library of ‘film and slide scanning’ and all your essential basic research to find your way and fill your needs can be done there.

3 – Post-Processing your image on your device with the appropriate software to achieve the final image, having decided on how you need to present your image, as a digital file uploaded to the web or as a quality print on paper produced on a suitable printer. The whole Hybrid process involves many steps that are very time-consuming. I, personally, have been spending my retirement over the past few years converting my Analog archive of tens of thousands of negatives and slides to Digital Files. To complicate matters I still am in love with Analog photography and still shoot +/- 70% film which certainly adds to my conversion time. At least 80% of my uploads to the web are converted Analog images. After years of converting Analog to Digital, I have come to the conclusion that there are no shortcuts or cutting corners, to achieve exhibition-grade images. I recommend, for the younger budding photographers who are just beginning their Analog experience, scan and convert the films/slides/prints after each shoot so as to avoid a backlog that becomes too heavy a load. Post-processing can be done at your convenience.

images: Nikon & Canon Europe

Scanner technology, unlike Digital technology which goes forward by leaps and bounds, hasn’t changed much, so upgrades are not necessary. My Epson Perfection V700 Photo Scanner came on the market in about 2005 and I’ve been using it solidly for about 14 years without a single problem. In its present form, the Epson V850 which has replaced it, except for a few minor mechanical improvements which help to scan a little faster, the basic electronic and lens technology hasn’t changed one iota. Remember that when these flatbed scanners came out, they were for professional photographers, the reproduction quality had to be top-notch, to enable them to work less expensively and control their assignments themselves without relying on and resorting to the hugely expensive drum scans of outside labs.

Though the Epson built-in scanner software is good, I use either Vuescan or Silverfast Lasersoft software which is both specifically matched to the scanner model. This software allows me to do much of the post-processing in the scanning, directly upload to my Photoshop or Lightroom, ‘finish’ the image conversion process, and save time. Both companies have built-in compatibility for thousands of scanners.

Hybrid processing combines the unique aesthetic qualities of analog photography with the convenience and flexibility of digital technology, allowing photographers to shoot film and handle converting it digitally for sharing or printing without a darkroom. By understanding the steps involved in creating Hybrid images and the benefits of this approach, street photographers or enthusiasts can gain a deeper appreciation for the art of photography and the possibilities offered by combining the best of both the analog and digital worlds.

image: Sey Rosen

image: Sey Rosen

Mastering HYBRID Photography brings you into an immense universe of photography and the creative opportunities are endless. With the need to convert and perhaps restore the hundreds, perhaps thousands or more, of images you have in shoeboxes in the loft, on the top shelf of the cupboard, and in a suitcase under the bed, not to mention the Renaissance of Analog Photography, I hope that this introduction to HYBRID Photography has whetted your appetite. Until we meet again, I leave you with a taste of the magical world of Hybrid Photography. In our next publishing, we will delve deeper into this wondrous realm of Analog Photography and Hybrid Conversion Technique.

Author – Sey Rosen

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1 Comment

Feb 25

Needless to say the write up is insightful and helpful. Being the visual person that I am, I must add that the clicks added to the article are simply gorgeous, they are so elegant and tasteful. Thank you!

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