Retaining Original Film Scans


Today’s Question: Would you recommend keeping the original scans of slides or negatives that were used as the basis of the layered Photoshop workflow? These would mostly be TIFF files in my situation. Or would you be satisfied that the original (minus cropping) would be preserved as the background layer in the resulting Photoshop document?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Provided the layered master image was not resized and any cropping was done non-destructively, I would be perfectly comfortable retaining only the layered Photoshop image and discarding the original scan.

More Detail: From my perspective as long as the Background image layer is preserved without alteration based on a scan of a slide or negative, there is no need to also retain a separate copy of the image from the original scan. In effect, within this context I consider the layered Photoshop document to be the equivalent of the original scan.

When scanning a slide or negative I only feel the need to create a single file based on that scan. In other words, I don’t save a flattened version of the original scan in addition to a layered version with my various adjustments applied. That helps avoid unnecessary duplication of image files, which in the context of a layered image created with a non-destructive workflow would also not involve any compromises.

For a layer-based image in Photoshop created from a scanned original, the key here is to ensure that no changes are applied to the Background image layer. That means I don’t resize or sharpen this layer-based master image. If cropping is applied it means making sure the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox on the Options bar for the Crop tool is turned off, so that rather than deleting pixels when cropping you are just hiding them from view by reducing the canvas size for the image.

So, provided a proper non-destructive workflow is used for the layer-based master image, in my mind there is no benefit to also preserving an additional file based on the original scan.