Scanning Flowers

Camera: (Scanner) Epson 4870
Computer: Apple
Software: Epson Scan, Adobe Photoshop CS

In a past career I was involved with horticulture so I have an appreciation for the beauty of the natural world with all it’s elegant shapes and textures.

My current life’s path has me looking at botanicals in a new way to photograph and then reproduce the images as fine art prints. In my efforts to experiment with different arrangements and compositions, I started use the Epson 4870 flatbed scanner. Initially using it helped me to develop a sense of the how to arrange the forms within a standard frame of reference and develop a process to enhance the texture and color.

Using the scanner as a Polaroid-like preview was quick and easy, it allows me to work with cut flowers, trimmings from bushes, tree branches, and leaves in a variety of combinations and arrangements.

This process has lead me to look to the scanner as a creative capture devise for these natural 3D objects much like having a camera with only one very soft, directional, but at the same time, a full illuminating source. The objects placed on the flatbed scanner glass do not have much in the way of depth of field that a camera aperture might produce. But this shallow depth with it’s soft illuminating quality stands on it’s own as a special way to capture and exhibit texture and form that allows me to look closer at this natural intrinsic world.

To emphasis and isolate the objects placed on the flatbed scanner, I realized quite by accident that if I left the scanner lid open and turned off the overhead lights that the result of the light falling off rapidly created a perfectly black background naturally accentuating the object.

To take make best use of the image capture I scanned the object at a high bit depth (16 bit). The high bit scan allowed for more image information

The image file is then imported into Adobe Photoshop for some digital darkroom work. My approach to the digital darkroom is not to be heavy handed with the adjustments but to eliminate any deflects and enhance the tone and color.

From my experience, key things to remember with this image capture process include:

  • Keep the glass on the flatbed surface as clean as possible by wiping down the top with a lint free cloth and a glass cleaning solution.
  • Leave the lid open and turn the room lights off so that the light falls off to pure black in the background.
  • Experiment and make multiple preview scans to fine tune the arrangement of the natural objects on the scan bed
  • Set-up the scanner for high bit depth (16 bit) capture mode.
  • Scan the objects at a high resolution(1600ppi ) to slow the movement of the capture. It’s my experience that this will enable the illuminating / capture source to move slowly across the object to fully flood and surround the object with light.
  • Turn off the sharpening within the scanner capture interface.

Image production process:

  • Once the image is acquired, the digital darkroom workflow in Adobe Photoshop CS requires a bit of retouching to hide any defects (stray pollen, broken or cracked leaves and stems etc.); a global tone and color correction; and image sharping in preparation for printing.
  • The extent of sharpening is dependent on which surface the image will be printed on. Glossy and semi gloss surfaces require less edge and detail enhancement then a watercolor fine art surface.