Scanning negative film can be immensely tedious. If you wish to attempt it yourself and don’t have access to a means of applying accurate colour profiles, then presented in this post is a summary of my Photoshop workflow to achieve desirable (by my current standards) results.
Using your scanning software (I use Vuescan), scan the negative as you would a positive using completely neutral colour and contrast settings. Save as a 16 bit/channel TIFF image. I’ve often found Vuescan’s film profiles to be horrible – particularly for the recent batch of medium format Kodak Ektar I’ve been trying – so I stay away from them.
In Photoshop, invert the image. Note the blue mask from the orange base of the film – this is different for every film hence the need for profiles.
Set the black point by using a curves layer. In the pop-up box change the display to show clipping and using the black dropper, keep redefining the black point until there is only a very small amount of clipping.
Set middle grey using a levels layer. In tandem, adjust the input levels slider for white (while checking the histogram for clipping) and define middle grey with the dropper. I’ve used an arrow to point to my selection.
Adjust contrast to taste with another curves layer.
With a small rotation and removal of dust, this is the final result. Note that I’ve stayed away from colour balance layers – they ask for trouble.
Feedback is welcomed. If you scan your own film and use this, or a variant of this routine, I’d be interested to hear about it.