Blown out highlights


I am having a problem with my highlights while converting colour negative film.

Now, my knowledge of histogram adjustment is not incredibly in depth, and that could very well be the problem here. However I scan my black and white film using solely Epson scan and just do basic histogram/output adjustments to preserve details etc, without problem. And when I was using epson scan for colour neg I didn’t have this problem either, at least not to this scale.

When scanning in the negatives as positives, I was just setting the histograms/outputs to their max value as I was thinking this would preserve as much detail as possible. Not sure if my logic is flawed there but it’s not working anyways. After realizing I’m having a real problem with the highlights I started to try and adjust the histogram and compensate for the conversion. This didn’t do much at all either. I scan to TIFF’s if that helps.

When using the white clipping and highlight controls in negative lab pro, it will bring the highlights down, but it will give them a serious colour cast, normally orange/magenta - and there is no more detail underneath.

I considered that the negative might just be too blown out in the highlights but i looked at it under a loupe and there are still details there that I’m just not able to retrieve when scanning.

Thank you,


Can you adjust exposure with your scanner/driver?

If yes, you could do a series with different exposure settings and see if all scans turn out with the same issue. If this should be the case, your original film’s highlights are unrecoverable. Another thing you could do: Take a magnifier (8x and up) and check if you can see other things than just the grain of your film…

Looking at the scene, the highlights might be well gone. Even film has its limits.

I can adjust exposure with my scanner software (epson scan) prior to scanning, however it has not made much difference.

I’ll try to get my hands on an 8x loupe, thank you for that idea!

I don’t believe this would help preserve any details… The TIFF should be already 16bit, which will be plenty of bit depth to retain details. Using a histogram adjustment in EpsonScan is just software stretching the existing scanned data.

I’m not sure the problem is “clipping” - if you were to use the clipping indicators in Lightroom (hit the “J” key while in the develop module), it wouldn’t be difficult to check and adjust to remove any actual clipping in the scene.

I think a lot of people expect film to have an “HDR” digital type like because of the high dynamic range of the film – but the HDR digital look is really has more to do with regional “tone mapping” which is not really what high dynamic range looks like… having an actually high dynamic range source will look more boring and low contrast.

See this thread for advise on how to process the film image by processing it multiple ways in NLP and using luminosity masks.