Yellow/Blue Developed Negatives

Hi everyone,

I purchased Negative Lab Pro a couple weeks ago and so far I’ve processed a few hundred negatives, which were DSLR scanned. I’m going through 4 decades worth of old family photos. Negative Lab Pro has been a godsend and I love how it can individually process hundreds of photos in one go. The adjustment options are very powerful and I’ve learned to use them to perfect so many photos.

I’ve had some great successes with many of my rolls of photos, achieving incredible quality and detail that I never knew was laying latent in the negatives all this time.

HOWEVER.

Many of my rolls of negatives have a terrible problem where they turn out looking like this:

I have literally hundreds of negatives that come out like this.

example (4)

It’s really heartbreaking because I don’t have any developed photos for so many of these. However, the developed photos that I do have actually look decent (not great, but a million times better than this). Which means these negatives were at some point able to create decent photos.

Old developed photos on left, my negative scans on the right.

On the technical side, these negatives have quite narrow histograms, and their blue channel is barely a sliver:
histogram

Here are some raw files of some of these photos.(1) (2) (3)

I would really appreciate any help anyone can extend to me about this.

Thank you.

Super difficult image, my usual tricks did not make things much better than your screenshots. When I set pre-saturation to its lowest value and engaged a linear/linear-flat model, the extreme duotone was reduced, opening up the playground a little bit.


I first set the negative image to auto-wb and auto-tonality before converting.
Afterwards, I played around with Lightroom 10’s new toning tools.

In cases like these, I often resort to B/W…

I really appreciate your help! I tried out your tips and I learned that the bulk of my problem was that I was developing with high pre-saturation and no color model. I switched to “very low” pre-saturation and “Basic” color model, and now I’m getting a similar result as you. Thank you.

I would really like to know if anyone understands what the actual issue is with these negatives. I have hundreds of photos from many rolls that are like this. Were they developed in a bad way that damaged them? And if so, how was the photo shop able to develop decent photos out of them at the time?

I’d send one of the films to a lab for prints, see what those prints look like.

Something has definitely gone wrong here.

  1. How old are the negatives and how were they stored? It’s possible there has damage to the negatives that wasn’t present at the time they were originally developed into prints.
  2. What light-table or light source did you use to capture these? I notice what appears to be strong reflections in some of the images (like the beach example) that do not appear to be present in the original print you shared. Any images of your setup could be helpful to diagnose the issue.
  3. High amounts of dust can also throw off the image conversion, because it reads it as a part of the negative data if there is enough of it.

-Nate

Thanks for your reply Nate.

The negatives are all around 20 years old and were just stored in these envelopes that the shops would provide with all the developed photos:

I also noticed that “light reflection” that you mentioned, but it’s really strange because it only shows up in some of these damaged photos, and none of my successfully-developed negatives. My successfully developed negatives are actually fantastic–some of them look like pristine quality, professionally shot photos.

Anyways below are some pictures of my setup, which I designed based on all your instructions and suggestions for best practices.

I have not been able to acquire a film holder–they’re not for sale anywhere except in the US it seems, so I’ve built my own makeshift system using some craft materials. I’m using a small chipboard cutlery box, which I had a carpenter cut a hole into, which provides a couple centimetres of distance from the light table. I made a guide and mask for the film using card paper. This holder sits on a light table, and I’ve blocked all excess light. The sprocket holes are blocked, as you’ve recommended.

I’m shooting on a Canon 6D II with macro lens. But after making this, I was no longer able to position the camera over it with a tripod, because the tripod legs got in the way. So I attached the lens hood and placed it on two small boxes to give it the right distance between the lens and film.

Judging from my setup, I believe I’ve eliminated any light going into the lens, but I could be wrong.

Among these problematic photos, many are heavily damaged and are littered with white spots and scratches:

However, there are also many that are almost spot-free, such as the examples in my first post and here:

I appreciate your help with diagnosing this!