A Corvette Mystery

I’m drawn to the Corvettes manufactured between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s because of their looks. The only automobiles that look better to me are the Jaguar XKs, the 120s, 140s, and 150s. I’ll probably get an argument about that from someone, so let me say again that I’m talking about what those cars look like to me.

This Corvette was at the Cars and Coffee show in Irvine, California on Saturday, June 8 2013. I shot a few frames of it and moved on. Back home in the afternoon, I developed the negatives from the two rolls I shot at the show, then scanned them. When I reviewed the scans I noticed something mysterious about the two frames of the car that were shot from the front. Take a look at those two frames and you will see what I mean.

The metal Corvette lettering on the front of the hood (bonnet) is inconsistent. The letters V, E, T, T are missing from the first frame. In the second frame, shot perhaps two seconds later (look at the people in the background), the final letter, E, is also missing. I wasn’t sure how that happened. In fact, I was totally mystified.

I took a good look at the negatives with my 10X loupe and discovered that the lettering was all there. The negatives were originally scanned at 3200 dpi, so I tried a scan at 4800 dpi and got the same result, though there were different letters missing from the digital image. I popped the contrast up and tried a scan at 6000 dpi and got the same result, though the missing letters were again different. I then tried a huge scan at 12800 dpi. It didn’t solve the problem.  

It was starting to worry me a bit. Did I have a bunch of scans with missing details that I didn’t notice? Was my Epson V600 scanner getting flaky?

While thinking near-random thoughts about the reliability and/or near death of my scanner, I looked at the control pane of the scanner software and wondered if the unsharp mask function was interfering with the scanner’s ability to distinguish between the painted and chromed metal. I deselected the unsharp mask. and tried scanning the negatives again.

The resulting scan is shown below, along with a copy of one of the first scans shown above. I placed them in a gallery, so you can easily flip back and forth between them. The scan with no unsharp mask applied is definitely not as sharp as the original, but the chrome lettering on the hood of the Corvette is visible.

For quite some time, I’ve been holding off on looking for additional software to augment the Epson software that came with the scanner. I guess it is time to break down and start a software search…