Hello all- I'm very new to the stamp collecting hobby. I collected for a few years as a teenager, and am now getting back into it after college. I'm enjoying scanning the stamps I have to create an online catalog of my collection- I figure this will help prevent wear and tear on the originals since I won't have to pull them out quite so often to look at them!
My question is about what the experienced experts on this forum do to tweak color/contrast of the stamps they scan. I've found that my scanner produces images that are a bit bright and unnatural looking- at least to me! I've attached an image to show what I'm talking about. On the left is a photo I took with my camera, which I think best shows the color of this stamp. In the middle is the unedited scanned version. On the right is the scan after I've tried tweaking the colors to match to photo. I've seen some people on various sites discourage image color adjustment because it can dishonestly represent the stamp's appearance. Is doing adjustment to try to match the "true" color discouraged as well? What would you all suggest is a "best practice" I should try to follow?
Thanks in advance for all your help! I'm excited to be a part of the forum!
*** Moved by Staff to a more appropriate forum. ***
If the scans are not going to be used to try to sell your stamps, then I think the edited version might be the one I would use for my own viewing. I also scan my stamps and sometimes send scans to friends and relatives.
First --understand each i- phone will adjust the colors ,then your computer will adjust the colors , then .....then my computer will adjust the colors .....then my brain will adjust it ....ok now the picture is perfect .
The point being there are too many variables in looking at pictures for colors .
I would suggest doing some test scans of orange stamps and see if your scanner is reasonably faithful out of the box. If so, you are way ahead in my book. I think you could save yourself a lot of effort and just go with the scans from your scanner, unedited.
Thank you all for your helpful comments! Are you saying rdavid that for selling it's best to use unedited scans? That makes sense to me, though I'm very far from wanting or needing to sell any right now!
I agree for sure that color does seem a bit hard to reproduce perfectly, floortrader. If the "best practice" for scanning and adjusting colors is to just enjoy looking at them using the settings I choose that are most pleasing to me, I'm happy to do that!
Could you explain jleb1979 what you mean by test scanning orange stamps? Are those more tricky than most to image faithfully? Right now I only have one orange stamp, the 6c winged globe US airmail c19, but it is quite brilliant!
It is possible to calibrate scanners to get more accurate colors. Remember also that though it looks bright on your screen, that may partially come from your screen rather than from the image. Some scanners do automatic exposure adjustment too. All in all it is hard to get colors and brightness accurate. And even when you do it will look different on different computers. Last point: I think it is a bad idea to adjust colors if you plan on using the images to sell the stamps just because you can mislead buyers... It is a tricky business.
Quote: ...I think it is a bad idea to adjust colors if you plan on using the images to sell the stamps just because you can mislead buyers...
Agreed. If you play games with images than you should include what you have done in the description (or at least mentioned that you have 'enhanced'' the images).
Search eBay on something like opals to see image manipulation being used to deceive buyers.
Quote: ...It is possible to calibrate scanners to get more accurate colors. Remember also that though it looks bright on your screen, that may partially come from your screen rather than from the image...
Calibrating your scanner implies that you also calibrate your display monitor. Don
Great! Thank you all for your continued excellent advice. You gave me some guidelines to follow and things to try, which is exactly what I was hoping for! Also, thanks John Becker for your encouragement to find a good storage solution. I'll look through the forums for recommendations (I'm sure there are many threads based on that!) and start budgeting for something to get me started.
Trying to accurately show color is difficult due to all the variables mentioned by others in this thread. You can try to reduce some of that variability by using standards. Calibrating a scanner is possible; software is available to do that.
A simple method that requires some trial and error is to get a color chart like the one shown here:
and scan your stamps together with the chart. Then adjust the color of the scan so it matches the actual color chart as best as possible. But you cannot get perfect correspondence to all the colors. This works well for your own monitor but since everybody else's monitor is likely different they will see the colors differently, too.
Calibration can be tricky on any electronic device but you should never try a calibration on a cold device. Start it up and let it warm up for at least 20 minutes.
Scanner targets are available (they used to come with the better scanners from the manufacturer) online from several good third party's. Replace them every few years.
Always scan and calibrate with the scanner lid down, never open.
Calibrating a monitor or display correctly is very difficult and requires a meter or other device. Here is a video which describes what you have to do
Any calibration which requires a human to make a color judgement introduces the possibility of error. Men are not nearly as good as women at making color judgements. (women have more cones in the retina).
You can calibrate your scanner, you can calibrate you screen and you can calibrate your printer. Then you have some chance of getting a colour on the screen or on paper that matches the source reasonable well. I do it all the time for my photography.
Then you send it over the internet and someone looks at it on a screen which is probably not well adjusted and not almost certainly not calibrated.
All your hard work goes to pot. There is no way that you can be sure that the colours are accurate when viewed on another PC out of your control.
The short story. If it is not for yourself do not worry about colour and certainly do not waste a lot of time.
As you are doing it for yourself and want accurate results you really need to get your system calibrated.
Well said. I would add that if you are doing it for yourself you should not be saving your image files using most of the common file formats like JPG. Not much point in jumping through the calibration hoops and then allowing someone's compression algorithm make significant changes your image when you hit the 'save' button. Instead always save in a uncompressed TIFF or other uncompressed format. Don
Sorry, Matter, I could have elaborated a bit on the issue of orange, couldn't I. In some earlier posts a couple months ago in the thread on recent purchases, I had observed that the two scanners I now have, orange in particular comes out reddish brown. My main unit does not seem to be correctable, and the other I am retiring (these are consumer level printer/scanner units. For certain early twentieth century US stamps the raw scans then appear to show an oxidized stamp, when the original is in fact brilliant orange. This seemed to me to be a common problem in the marketplace. Several commenters had also seen this and allowed as how oranges were tough for many scanners to faithfully, or near faithfully reproduce.
Thank you all for continuing to provide great resources on calibration- I have lots to look through now! I'll keep an eye out especially for how orange gets reproduced, since that seems especially tricky.