noise in night photography

denada

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yo, i get noise in my night photos. i'm not sure if "noise" is the right word, but it looks just like the noise that a digital camera creates when you crank up the iso setting. this doesn't make any sense to me. is my scanner creating it? or why does this noise appear in my night photography but not day with the exact same film?

tumblr_oa2f1hismb1v9quoao1_1280.jpg

see it? it's driving me crazy. this photo is 35mm portra 400. aperture was wide open (whatever max is for olympus rc) and exposure was probably 1/30 or 1/60. scanned with v600.

it reduces a bit when making photoshop levels adjustments that i'd make anyway, but i can't completely eliminate it even if i exaggerate those adjustments. the reduce noise mask blurs details and doesn't fix anything. if possible, i'd like to address the root of the problem instead of just using a mask anyway.

it looks terrible. please let me know ...

a) whether the problem is actually on the film or being created during the scan
b) how i can fix/reduce it

thanks!
 
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480sparky

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Film does not have noise. It has grain.

How well was the negative exposed? If it's underexposed, you'll get noise when you scan it and try to correct for the exposure.

You may just be seeing the grain of the ISO 400 film.
 
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denada

denada

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thanks for the reply. it's underexposed to the extent that you see it's underexposed. it's not corrected for. unless my scanner is making some adjustment i don't see? i don't have the levels or tone curve cranked to make the photo lighter.

"You may just be seeing the grain of the ISO 400 film."
i posted a photo where the distortion is clear. is that just film grain? maybe film grain made more evident by low light situations? portra 400 looks great in my daytime shots. i plan on trying 160 to see if it fixes the problem, though that eliminates my ability to take these dark night shots by hand.
 

480sparky

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If this is a full-frame scan, I doubt it's grain then. It's probably noise introduced somewhere in the digital end of the processing.

Without knowing the details of your scanning process, it's hard to address where it might be showing up.
 
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denada

denada

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it's the majority of the frame.

"It's probably noise introduced somewhere in the digital end of the processing."
that's what i was afraid of. i would have enjoyed addressing it from the analog end, but i @#$%^&* hate scanning.

i ...
- use epson scan on professional mode
- scan using "normal," not thumbnail
- select the frame as close to the borders as possible (as adjustments levels and curve are automatically made based on the image you have)
- go into the histogram adjustment and move the mids back to 1 (though i've tried leaving the histogram untouched and i've tried capturing the hole histogram with mids at 1; any of those three methods still result in distortion)
-scan as a tiff
-then i edit in photoshop. with a non-portrait shot like above, that's just cleaning up dust, playing with levels, then resize and crop before applying an unsharp mask
- save/export as a jpeg

there's a thread here dealing with the same problem: Why do negs always scan noisy? - Photo.net Digital Darkroom Forum

they didn't seem to solve it though. just a bunch of technical talk before getting into subjective opinions. that he was using 100 makes me think 160 might not be the solution. there are a few other threads of people complaining about the same, especially in night photos.

just took a closer look at the work of a photographer who inspired the above photo, and all of his have the noise as well. didn't notice at first because of instagram's shoddy image quality, but i had mistakenly assumed it was snowing in some of his shots. Instagram photo by Rob Stanier • Jul 10, 2016 at 7:39pm UTC

i do not like this.
 
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jcdeboever

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I wonder if it's the quality of the scanner? I wonder if this is where the price difference comes in for scanners? For me, this is where film can get frustrating, the scanning operation.
 

webestang64

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Yes, the scanner makes a big difference. At the photo lab I work at we use 7 different scanners and the scans from any flatbed or even a Nikon 8000 are no match for the Noritzu 1800 series commercial unit.
 

Tim Tucker

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The first question is just how much are you zooming in on these images? Remember that scanning film allows you instant access to a magnification far greater than film is capable.

You are also converting your analouge, and grainy, images to digital. Go look up Nyqvist Theorem, very simply an area sampled (by one dpi of the scanner) only has one value. If it lands on the edge of an object such as a grain it does not reproduce that edge but one single value that's an average value. It fudges and exaggerates a random grain pattern. When you view on screen the images are resized downward (which exaggerates the problem). If you look at them at 100% you magnify the images beyond reason (which exaggerates the problem). If you print these at A4 you may find that the grain is a lot softer. Also scanning thin negatives or reversals (ones of a lower range of densities) creates quite a problem. You adjust the histogram, so also look at it, how is it's range between lightest part and darkest, short of long? Short will give you problems.

The second point is the nature of grain in an analogue image and the use of wider apertures. Look at the image below, it is typical of even a wet print. Look at the brick in sharp focus and compare it to the background. I shan't get too technical (because I don't really know), but I shall say that grain is always far more visible in areas of lower acutance, such as soft clouds, continuous tones of blue sky, out of focus areas, etc. and far less visible in areas of high acutance, such as sharply focussed.

Apply the above to your image.

grain.jpg
 

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