Unmask your orange negs – EZ conversion of color negative scans

Mar 24, 2024

David Prochnow

Our resident “how-to” project editor, David Prochnow, lives on the Gulf Coast of the United States in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. He brings his expertise at making our photography projects accessible to everyone, from a lengthy stint acting as the Contributing How-To Editor with Popular Science magazine. While you don’t have to actually build each of his projects, reading about these adventures will contribute to your continued overall appreciation of do-it-yourself photography. A collection of David’s best Popular Science projects can be found in the book, “The Big Book of Hacks,” Edited by Doug Cantor.

Unmask your orange negs – EZ conversion of color negative scans

Mar 24, 2024

David Prochnow

Our resident “how-to” project editor, David Prochnow, lives on the Gulf Coast of the United States in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. He brings his expertise at making our photography projects accessible to everyone, from a lengthy stint acting as the Contributing How-To Editor with Popular Science magazine. While you don’t have to actually build each of his projects, reading about these adventures will contribute to your continued overall appreciation of do-it-yourself photography. A collection of David’s best Popular Science projects can be found in the book, “The Big Book of Hacks,” Edited by Doug Cantor.

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From orange negative, to color print, it's just a few clicks and done. This example is from an expired cartridge of 110 film

You know the drill; you’ve got a pile of scanned color negatives. All you need to do is convert them into digital color positives (prints) to upload to your social accounts. After you “invert” them using your fave image editor, each print is covered with a disgusting cyan veil. Ugh! Now what?

A quick online search yields 101 different solutions that vary from “too many steps” to “too confusing.” This just isn’t going to work. There must be a better way.

Luckily, there is a better way…a much better way. How does making just five mouse clicks sound to you? Oh, you like that idea? You betcha, it couldn’t be any easier than using the online Lomography Lomo DigitaLIZA Lab as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Welcome to Lomography Lomo DigitaLIZA Lab, your one-stop site for converting negatives into prints.
Figure 1. Welcome to Lomography Lomo DigitaLIZA Lab, your one-stop site for converting negatives into prints.

It only stands to reason that the same cool cats that bring you crazy film emulsions named “Metropolis,” “LomoChrome Purple,” “Color 92“, and “Redscale XR,” should also have a method for easily converting negatives into picture-perfect prints. Right? And they do.

Ideally, you would make your negative scans using the Lomography scanning solution called DigitaLIZA. This is a suite of handy masks and tools for taking anything that’s a film negative and converting it into a final digital print. You can even use this system to convert 35mm film sequences into an Oscar-worthy movie.

Regardless of how you create your digital negatives, the first step towards achieving digital prints is to point your browser to Lomo DigitaLIZA Lab. You don’t need an account, there isn’t an annoying subscription fee, nor do you need to use the Lomography DigitaLIZA system for making your digital negatives, it’s just click and go.

In an attempt to NOT over-complicate this dead-simple process, here is a sample walkthrough of the entire print production process. Let’s begin by looking at the subject of this presentation in Figure 2.

Figure 2. This is the test subject photographed with an iPhone 15 Pro Max
Figure 2. This is the test subject photographed with an iPhone 15 Pro Max

Step 1. Your first click is to upload your scanned digital negative. That’s the first icon in the tool bar located at the bottom of the Web page. The smart Lomography software will recognize your negative type (e.g., black & white, C-41 process, etc.) and display the result (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. An original color negative in all of its orange glory
Figure 3. An original color negative in all of its orange glory

Step 2. Convert this negative into a positive image by selecting the second, “image invert” icon (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. Pressing the "invert" icon produces a cyan print. What? Just be patient and continue processing your print
Figure 4. Pressing the “invert” icon produces a cyan print. What? Just be patient and continue processing your print

Step 3. Click the Black Circle for selecting a “black point” from your negative/positive (see Figure 5). Generally, just click inside the darkest shadow on your photograph.

Figure 5. Selecting the shadows with the "black point" icon
Figure 5. Selecting the shadows with the “black point” icon

Step 4. Click the White Circle. This is used for selecting a “white point” from your negative (see Figure 6). Pick the brightest highlight in your image.

Figure 6. The highlights are picked with the "white point" icon
Figure 6. The highlights are picked with the “white point” icon

[Note: In both Steps 3 and 4, an optional slider is displayed for manually adjusting the shadows and highlights.]

Step 5. Does everything look good to you? If so, you’re done! Just click the download icon for saving your completed print to your computer (or, smart device). This downloaded print will be labeled with a name containing “converted-” along with a 13-digit number (see Figure 7).

Figure 7. Voilà; the completed print is ready for download to your computer. This image is from a cartridge of expired 110 film
Figure 7. Voilà; the completed print is ready for download to your computer. This image is from a cartridge of expired 110 film

It’s worth noting, also, that Lomo DigitaLIZA Lab retains your conversion settings between each subsequent image upload. Therefore, after you upload a new negative, you might want to press the revert/undo button (that’s the seventh icon on the Lab’s tool bar) for resetting all of the controls back to zero.

And that’s it, people. No complex formulas, no ridiculously long key sequences to memorize, and no costly software to purchase. Just upload, click, click, click, click, and you’re done. Now you’re ready for hitting your social media circuit and tagging your masterpieces.

Enjoy.

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David Prochnow

David Prochnow

Our resident “how-to” project editor, David Prochnow, lives on the Gulf Coast of the United States in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. He brings his expertise at making our photography projects accessible to everyone, from a lengthy stint acting as the Contributing How-To Editor with Popular Science magazine. While you don’t have to actually build each of his projects, reading about these adventures will contribute to your continued overall appreciation of do-it-yourself photography. A collection of David’s best Popular Science projects can be found in the book, “The Big Book of Hacks,” Edited by Doug Cantor.

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