Your questions are quite broad and difficult to answer succinctly. Reading your original and the respone you made to Cindy seems to indicate you need to break the problem down into smaller parts that you can work on individually.
Originally Posted by iriscaddis
There's an excellent site by Wayne Fulton which answers a lot of basic questions for those new to scanning and the resulting image processing work:
I've been doing film scanning and output to other media on my own work since the early 1990s (for NASA/JPL prior to that...). Wayne Fulton started this website above sometime in the middle 1990s; it's gone through many revisions.
Briefly, there are three basic phases to the task:
prior to which there is computer system setup/configuration.
0 - Display calibration and profiling is very important, most important of course when you're doing color work to obtain natural, accurate results. Mac OS X has a good software calibration/profiling utility in System Prefs, but it's by no means the best way to do this task. The best way is with a good hardware colorimeter and calibration/profiling software designed to drive it. Good ones aren't that expensive ... $200 or so ... but you only need them every month or two with modern displays so a good strategy is to buy one together with a couple of other photographer friends and share it around as needed.
The general topic of system setup is intended to promote efficient Color Management.
There's also configuration and setup for your image processing software ... Photoshop and Lightroom in particular are what I'm referring to. I've written a couple of articles on this topic: they're freely downloadable as PDFs from my website: http://www.gdgphoto.com/articles/ see #s 3, 4, and 10.
1 - Managing the scan process is best seen as data acquisition. While with modern tools and calibration capabilities you can achieve a very automated process where the scanner and its driving software is calibrated to produce near-finished results pretty consistently, I personally never bother with that and consider a more basic strategy for my scanning. I look to capture all the significant data I can, adjusting the scanning software to properly 'window' the data in the negative or positive without too much concern for the nuances of color balance and tonal scale. A good scan, to me, simply has as much data as possible in the captured file for me to apply image processing tools for rendering.
Nikon Capture is good, but I prefer using VueScan as I find its controls and algorithms more specifically controllable and predictable.
2 - The fundamental issue with image scanned from film is that they are less manipulable than images captured digitally in the first place due to film grain and other 'defects' that are embedded in the data. What this means is that you need to start with more pixels, more bit depth and do more rendering work to achieve the end results you want, and you can't push the medium as far as you can with the cleaner digital capture process.
The Rendering process also implies a bit about the image management as well ... how to organize and mechanisms for annotating and finding images are essential to productive work.
Books, videos, classes, etc have been written and sold on teaching people to use Lightroom, Aperture, and all flavors of Photoshop. Photoshop and other similar image processing tools are generally speaking focused on the pixels ... intended for pixel manipulation primarily ... without much support for image management. Lightroom and Aperture do a LOT more in image management and supply a good deal of the
My recommendation is to start with Lightroom or Aperture ... pick one, whichever is more appealing to you ... and learn to organize and do basic rendering operations first without regard to printing and output. Get comfortable, add pixel editing with a Photoshop or Pixelmator or whatever other pixel editor you like when it seems appropriate. Learn to see and make adjustments on the display that are pleasing.
http://www.lynda.com, Scott Kelby Training, Luminous Landscape and many others are good sources for training with these tools at reasonable prices (or free).
3 - The Output process to prints is generally a function of learning that portion of whichever rendering applications you find useful. All of the above ... Aperture, Lightroom, Photoshop, Pixelmator , etc ... include excellent printing tools that allow both color-managed and direct, printer-driver controlled image output.
Again, books have been written on this topic alone with all kinds of cascading and contraditory theories of process and workflow. The curious bit is that all of these bits can produce good work, but none of them are ever truly "right" for *all* possible images and system setups.
The thing to take away from this that affects both the capture and the rendering portions of the task is that some notion of what you wish to achieve in making prints can help set the bases for capture (in terms of resolution requirements) and rendering (in terms of tonal range and sharpening required for that output goal).
- Read the scantips.com site.
- Get your system setup to first order workable state.
- Play with and learn your scanner and whichever scanner software you want to use.
- Explore and become comfortable with the image management and rendering tools.
- Study and experiment with printing etc until you understand how your printer works and outputs
- Iterate through the above as you gain knowledge and skill, persevere until the results are to your liking.
Hope that helps. :-)
"There are no silver bullets.
There is only desire to succeed and the application of effort towards that end.
Success is proven to be possible."