If you only own a 35mm negative scanner, or if you don’t own one at all! Here is a quick technique for scanning negatives with a normal scanner. This technique works brilliantly with Black and White film and is ideal if you are wishing to scan negatives larger than 35mm.
I set this up because I wanted to scan some of my medium format negatives… and here is the first attempt!
Lomography Technique – First attempt at using a homemade backlight with a regular scanner
All you need for this to work is a normal flatbed scanner, some plain white paper and a lamp (lamps with a dimmer switch or a low wattage bulb in will work best)
I have used an old Canon CanoScan Scanner and a bedside lamp with a dimmer as my backlight
It’s really important to make sure your negatives and your scanner are both clean, as tiny hairs and dust will show up quite easily using this technique. Also be prepared to experiment with the amount of paper you use and the brightness of the lamp, as you may have to change these depending on the original exposure quality on your negative.
Place your nicely cleaned negative (face down) onto your nicely cleaned scanner.
Place your paper on top of your negative, I suggest starting off with trying 5 sheets of paper and adjust the amount accordingly. Obviously less paper lets in more light (you may want to try going down to a minimum of 2 sheets of paper if you have a particularly dark negative to scan)
Place your lamp onto or over the paper (make sure you don’t have your bulb touching the paper – You don’t want to start a fire!!!) I suggest the lamp is about 30 to 40cm away from the paper; you can obviously experiment with the distance to get the best results. I also had my lamp on the first (dimmest) dimmer setting.
Scan your results in, changing the amount of paper or brightness of the bulb to get the best result.
When you are happy with your results, I suggest scanning them in at the highest dpi setting your scanner will do! Enjoy!
I personally really like the effects you get when you make the lamp brighter and add more paper on top of the negative, it captures the grain of the paper in the scanned image to give your end result a real grainy and sometimes misty effect.