I sat down yesterday morning for my usual coffee and email check to find a facebook message from a dear old undergrad photography friend. This always happens to me, I think of someone or am reminded by something on my radar and then they appear. Sure enough, it was Emily Beckett (née Heggarty) inquiring about what kind of scanner she should purchase to resurrect some of her luscious medium format treasures. All I could think was, "Hold the phone, I've got so much to tell you!! ...Ever heard of wet-mount scanning?"
Like myself, it seems her more recent life has been consumed with the balance of career and family, leaving just enough time for survival and never enough time for the carefree studio life that we all might have once imagined in the wild, furry undergraduate fantasies of our future plans. So there it was, the process opening up right before my very eyes... The creative process that is... The process I have dedicated my life to teaching college students – one of the few processes that I totally get behind in this crazy world. And although I have been working off and on in the studio classroom with wet-mount scanning as a technique that we can exploit, I took this as a personal omen signaling me down the very path of my own next creative moves on this sabbatical journey. Which equates to: my studio work needs to begin very abruptly and immediately with wet scanning my negatives from years and years of a serious medium format and a toy camera film habit predating my digital catalogs. So, what better way to begin than to teach old friends some magic?!
A little bit about the wet scan process for those less familiar...
By using a scanning fluid you can create a sealed, flat surface on the scanner bed so that the focus is exponentially sharper. The other pay off in this whole deal is the exposure's dynamic range can be better put to use in your resulting image. Win-win.
As seen above, I've included some very early quick tests done by my intern Given Zane as we refined an economical workflow that the students could manage in the schoolhouse studio or on their own.
My supply list...
Epson V850 Pro (or equivalent scanner V700, V750, etc.)
Epson fluid mount accessories
Silver Fast Ai Studio (scanner driver - current version)
Lumina by Scan Science http://scanscience.com/Pages/lumina.html (less fumes than the other brands, really goofy ordering process)
Aztek scanning fluid http://www.aztek.com/consumables.html
mylar (Duralar 0.003)
glass cutting board (9x10 or slightly bigger glass cutting board, rubber feet preferred)
wipes (non-abrasive, lint-free, bibulous paper):
Kimwipes for lens (#05511 in the black box) by Kimtech
lint free cotton gloves
PEC 12 (film cleaner)
soft rubber roller -or- soft squeegee
Some helpful video tutorials...