Editing Friday; Burnt Negatives

This is another glorious Friday and another chance to share with you some editing. Today’s image is really a Re-edit. It has been a while since i have done a reedit on Friday.

The image came to my attention when looking for a photo for yesterdays PhotoChat. I was going through one of my archive drives and I found a set of shots I had taken when I was 17 years old, a year into my studies in photography and my first steps of colour photography. What have I learnt over the preceding 11 years?  A lot I think.

The image was shot on film, I believe it is was Fuji and it was transparency as I very rarely shot colour negative at this time. The project was documenting the slow self destruction of the Cornwall Coliseum which due to legal problems, between the local government’s planning office and the development company, the building was left to rot before being torn down 2 years later. Cornwall Coliseum was situated on a man made beach called Carlyon Bay and in its hay day according to my father was quite the attraction. I only remember the night club Gossips that was there with some very foggy memories.

The image I will be editing is not of this building but of something i found near by. A group of negatives that seemed to be burnt lying in the sand. Of course I edited these images before but I couldn’t find that file only the negative so I wont be able to compare my new edit to the old.


First I am going to crop the film boarder which was scanned with the side. The reason for doing this is that the black of the border will effect the histogram. I may bring it back at the end.


The big mistake i did make was shooting into the sun. Because of this there are a few problems in relation balancing the light in the image. I like the strong blacks but I don’t want too strong shadows, I like the highlight detail but not the blown out sky. I settled for a slightly neutral tone that I will adjust locally in Photoshop.


Oh magenta how I hate you. Magenta was my biggest fear as a student. For some reason a lot of images were prone to magenta casts even when shooting early digital images. To combat magenta you need to add green. I also want to add some vibrancy and boost the colours a little.
The way I reduced the magenta cast was via the white balance, correcting the tint of the image more to green. I also warmed up the image slightly.


Although the image is from a negative it still needs some sharpening and most definitely noise reduction  When reducing the noise I actually reduced the colour noise first and then the luminance,  most of the noise was colour noise, most likely from the digital scanning of the film. The  luminance was mainly grain.


I next used to graduated filters to darken the back ground and lighten the fore ground.


Before heading to Photoshop i made adjustments to the contrast via a curve. The adjustment I made really sets the tone for the image.


Imported to Photoshop and added a fill layer with 50% grey and painted onto this layer to darken and lighten some areas. In doing this the saturation really increased in the sky. I fixed this by loading a saturation adjustment layer reduced the saturation and masked it in.


The next step was to fix the colour balance. The image is quite red and magenta, even after making adjustments to the raw file. The key to using a colour balance adjustment layer, is to make sure you make small adjustments, starting in the shadows then moving to the midtones and then the highlights.

I made a few localized curves adjustments, to lighten, darken and boost contrast in certain areas.


On top I dropped in a curves adjustment to bring in the black point.

Now the edit is near finished I sharpened the image using the high pass method. I actually made the sharpening a lot stronger than it had to be and reduced the effect with the opacity. I then added a layer mask and applied the sharpening only to the film.

Final Image


It is quite nice looking back at some of my really old images. One of things I like is that I can now edit the images better than I could all those years ago. I had no idea on how to edit in Photoshop and had Paintshop Pro if i remember correctly when I started shooting colour. I like the smoothness of the image and the subtle tones which I think is a feeling that you can only really get sometimes from film. I do wonder what pictures were on the negatives and want to know why some one burned them.

What do you think of the image? Did i do a good editing job or would you have done something different? Let me know using the comment box below.

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