(NOTE: while this remains a good article, I have a more up to date version over here, that is focused on Epson scanners, while this is focused on Nikon, but the principles remain the same)
In this case I'm going to use an LS-4000 scanner, but I use exactly this technique with Epson flatbed scanners too.
To make this 'tutorial' as generic as possible I'll skip the detailed bits on the scanner operation, but I've covered those aspects in other posts on this blog here and here.
No matter what the driver, leave the system believing that it is scanning a positive, not a negative. Then, carefully tweak the red green and blue channels by bringing the sliders (particularly on the light end) closer to the main humps of the datain the histogram ... but don't set the level too close to the data ... you'll clip details if you're not careful. If in doubt test and inspect for high light clipping.
Ok ... now you've scanned it into your editor ... I use photoshop, so I'm sorry you'll have to 'translate' this to what ever makes the right stuff for your editor.
start - its now in your editormy scanner is set to produce its data in a colour profile of Bruce RGB, so your next step is to assign that profile (unless your scanner is set in its configuration to produce data of another profile check your scanner configuration). Now if your editor does not handle colour management then I guess you'll have to find a way to have your scanner put data out in sRGB ... but I'd really advise you to get a better editor.
You'll see an immediate change on the way stuff looks straight away ...
so now we do the next step, which is invert
starting to look right now isn't it ... so much for all that "orange mask" stuff ...
So now we need to sort out the levels more carefully. I deliberately left 'breathing room' before so that we can see more carefully where our levels are in a system which is more amenable to it.
notice how I've moved the levels closer to the humps of the histogram. If you can, hold down the Ctl key which will let you know where clipping is occurring visually. When you get to clipping, back off a little ... because we'll get it closer in the next step with curves.
here I apply a little curve adjustment ... I normally need to pull up the light and pull down the dark areas ... this helps a little to reduce noise, as this represents the indistinct areas near the film base and the areas where the film is approaching saturation (totally black).
So now we have the image within ball park. From here you can "go wild and do your worst"
I've also done a little local area contrast fix here too
Anyway, assuming this was helpful, you might find these quick notes interesting too:
- a more detailed examination of scanning Neg as Positive here
- using the Epson for bulk scanning of 35mm colour neg (and getting your desired settings applied across all evenly)
- registration problems on Epson scanners and why you shouldn't go too far in trying to adjust this or that because when you improve focus you may disturb registration
- using your scanner to understand film density.
- driving your scanner software differently to effect some changes in scanner side exposure on Epsons (meaning better noise characteristics in the dense areas of your negs).
- don't forget colour management on your Epson (its not where you might think it is)
- Black and White neg scanning
sorry its not compiled into a single resource, that's my next project
Hope that helps
PS ... to answer the question below (if I've understood it right) I need to cater for the fact that unlike slide the R G and B levels of density recorded in the film is not even ... below is a sample of the 'curve' for a typical negative film
please have a further read on my other page here.
to answer the question below in more detail I thought I would try this. Consider a point on the graph (not a range) the values for this colour below are 808040 in RGB values This is of course a pure tone and has not "variation" or range.
Now if you were to represent this on negative film the values would not simply be negative, they would also be scaled according to that graph above.
Similarly if I was to take a plain grey tone and photograph it with negative film I will not be able to read values 808080 or even simply inverted values as the response of the film to the light will give different density readings for each of R G and B ... this is unlike positive film (slide film) which does give such (eventually)