Yesterday evening I restarted scanning the slides that I brought back from Sweden last month. That was the fourth or so time that I adjusted my workflow and restarted everything. It is really a pain to fix things afterwards if you do not get the workflow right and since I have lots of slides to process it really felt better to start clean with a workflow that I felt comfortable with than to just try and fix things.
At first I thought that I would be able to just use VueScan and then Lightroom but, as it turned out, this was not really sufficient. I had to do some more processing of the originals that I could not do in Lightroom. Since I moved from single license installations of the Adobe software to a Creative Cloud subscription a while ago I have access to both Lightroom and Photoshop so Photoshop was of course my choice for anything I could not do in Lightroom. Photoshop is a piece of software that I always considered way too expensive for hobby use with their single license prices. Since creative cloud, even the basic subscription, contains both and when doing the math I found that I spent almost as much on upgrades for Lightroom as a yearly subscription for Creative Cloud would cost me.
My main issue was how to handle the originals that came out of the scanner and how much processing I should apply to the originals before pulling them into Lightroom. The choices made have some rather big repercussions since any processing of the actually originals is irreversible. However I found out that I had to do some processing since Lightroom did not really supply efficient alternatives for some things, whereas Photoshop did provide this.
Unfortunately Photoshop, unlike Lightroom, directly operates on the image so you cannot go back. Sure I could have dragged the output from Lightroom into Photoshop instead of using the originals but then my modifications would have been overwritten every time I made some minor update in Lightroom and it would really be doing the processing in an illogical order anyway. Also, VueScan automatically opens your saved scan in whatever software you have installed that handles the file format that you have chosen. In my case the file format is TIFF-files and the software associated with this format is, you guessed it, Photoshop. Obviously this is quite convenient for the workflow if you want to do some post-scan, pre-Lightroom processing.
So, why did I not just chuck the scanned images into Lightroom like I do with the images from my cameras? Because, no matter how much I try to clean the slides (which is not much since I do not want to risk damaging them) what comes out of the scanner have a substantial number of defects in the form of dust and scratches. Lightroom have a repair tool which is excellent for removing a single defect or a small number of them but you cannot select an area of an image and apply a filter. Photoshop on the other hand have excellent tools for selecting areas manually, or semi-automatically. It also have a quite efficient dust & scratches filter. It took me a few trials (during which I managed to screw up a few of my originals which is another reason why I restarted the scanning process again) to learn how to use it efficiently and without adding other defects to the image but now I think I have it nailed down…I hope.
So now my workflow consists of scanning the slides with a minimum of processing options. I do use the “Restore fading” filter in VueScan most of the time though. Then once they are opened in Photoshop I do the dust & scratches removal and save them. Finally I chuck them into Lightroom where I process and catalogue them just as I would do with any new photos taken.
Hopefully this will be the final iteration and I can go full steam ahead with my scanning now.