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Advanced Questions
by Chuck McKern

With over 12 years of retail and professional experience Chuck thought he'd heard it all - until he took this job.

Send us your questions for either the Beginner or Advanced columns by clicking HERE.  Please include as much detail about the technique, camera, lens, or film as you can so Chuck can answer your questions.

I read Gary Stanley's two articles Curves and Levels I & II. I recently purchased an Epson 2450 scanner and would like to get the most out of it. I am still trying digest them. I have found the levels feature in Photoshop Elements but have not found the curves feature. Is this only available in 6.0 or am I not looking in the right place? From the menu bar I select Image, Adjustments. From there I should have the curves option. I have equalize, gradient map, invert, posterize and threshold. Can you point me in the right direction.

Warren Dean

Elements doesn't have Curves. You were correct that it's only available in PhotoShop 6.0 and now 7.0. There are some additional photo features under the enhance menu.

I shoot mostly slide film along with negative film. 35mm. OK on to the question. I scan the film with a Nikon LS 4000 scanner and save to Photoshop. As in all scanned images, I use the filter, mostly unsharp mask. and then save the image, in Photoshop, the question is when I open another image, it shows the last setting in unsharp mask. how can I save each image, so it will open without the filtering of the image opened before it, 


I'm not positive but I think I might know what's happening here. Do you have the preview box checked in the unsharp mask window? If so, every time you open the unsharp mask function it will apply the last settings used to the current image. The unsharp mask dialog in Photoshop allows you to work one of two ways. The first, which is the default mode, shows you a sample image at the top of the dialog box that allows you to tweak sharpness based on the sample. There are -/+ icons under the image that allow you to zoom it in and out. Your changes aren't applied to the image until you click OK. This allows you to tweak settings without long delays as changes are applied to large images. 

If you check the preview box (located under the cancel button on my version of PhotoShop), your changes will be applied immediately to the image. If you're running a fast processor, working with JPEG files, or scanning lower resolution TIFF files on your LS4000 then these changes could appear instantaneous. 

Each time you open a dialog box in PhotoShop, it is opened with the settings you used last, including whether the preview box is checked or unchecked. This saves you from always having to reset the same options every time you use them. This is true whether you reopen the dialog for the current image or for a new image. If preview is checked on any dialog box (not just unsharp masking) the last set of options for that dialog will immediately be applied to your current image. To turn this option off just uncheck it. 

I'm seeing your magazine just today, for the first time and believe me.....I'm hooked!!! Its really amazing. Trust me, I'm impressed.

Now, what I would like to ask is about a quality and consistent photo-lab. I stay in INDIA, and I'm into Nature and Wildlife, and like to have pro quality slides made from my negs., and dupes from my original slides. Please suggest me a lab which can fulfill my need.

Awaiting a speedy reply.... Thanks and all the best,


First thank you for the compliment. I don't know of any labs in India first hand, but you can try contacting Professional Colour Lab at They may be able to help you or possibly help you locate a lab near you. Another possible source for first hand information is a Web site called India Birds which can be found at This site is really well done and features some very nice work by photographers around India.  There is a discussion area where you can ask questions of other readers. They might be able to point you towards the best local labs if they have members living in your area.  

I just purchased a used Nikon LS-2000 scanner on Ebay. I want to scan slides and print them on my Epson 1280 printer as 11x14 prints. Will this scanner give me images that are good enough to print at this size? The previous owner shipped it to me with the box and all the software. Is there updated software for this scanner? Finally it comes with a SCSI card but I want to use it with my laptop sometimes. Can I buy any SCSI card for my laptop or is there one I have to order from Nikon?

Doc Beemer

Wow, you packed a lot of questions in there Doc. We use an LS-2000 here and have found it to be a solid reliable scanner. It will give you excellent results - if you take the time to learn how to use it. Check out Gary Stanley's articles on curves and levels as a starting point, and work through the manuals from Nikon that are included on the CD (though they're OK at best). Next go to and download the latest scanning software and firmware drivers. These should only be used as a set. Follow Nikon's directions for installing them. 

You'll be able to get quality scans for printing 11x14s. We get the best results when we use Genuine Fractals to create an output file. You'll also want to spend some time calibrating your monitor and your printer so that what you see on the screen is what you get from your printer.

The last thing is the SCSI card. SCSI has a well deserved reputation for being touchy and I've heard of numerous problems with the scanner if it's not the only device on the SCSI bus. If you have other SCSI devices on your computer make the scanner the first device in the chain.

For your laptop I'd recommend getting a PCMCIA card from Adaptec. The Nikon driver software was written to run with an Adaptec SCSI card so there's less chance of problems if you use one of their cards with your laptop as well. I use an Adaptec SlimSCSI 1460D PCMCIA card to do scans with my laptop and haven't had any problems.

I saw a three year old Plustek flatbed scanner on Ebay that's supposed to be able to scan slides for $50. Sounds a lot better than spending a fortune on a film scanner. What kind of quality will I get from it?


High quality film scanners start at $800 and go up in price quickly from there. That $50 Plustek will give you scans that are just as awful as the price would suggest. For scanning film its junk.

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