… or don’t count on post-processing too much.
I had to scan a few pages the other day and since I don’t have a flatbed scanner, I decided to take pictures of them instead. It taught me (or remainded me of) a lesson which I think is worth passing along….
My first go was just to put a couple of lamps on each side of the paper sheet and shoot from above (more or less in the middle) with the lense wide open. I then went on post-processing, trying straighten the perspective, tweaking the curves and applying indecent amount of unsharp mask. The result was a complete failure.
I restarted from scratch: set up three lights between the legs of my tripod, made sure the exposure was as regular as possible on all the paper surface (adding 1/3 of exposure would blow the whole surface). I setup my camera on tripod, focussed by hand, carefully exposed to “near blown”, mirror lock up, f/8.0, 0,4 sec of exposure.
Post-processing was about picking the white-balance from anywhere in the papersheet, rotating the page a little if needed and croping. No curves tweaking, no perspective straightening, no unsharp mask. The result was perfect.
So often, doing the right thing as close as possible to the source will make the rest of the process a lot more simple. This is valid for photography, even to “scan” a few pages: don’t count on post-processing, take good pictures.