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| p.1 #2 · Film scanning, auto color correction, and film (color) profile |
Generally, the Auto setting in most scanning software looks for and finds the darkest and lightest area in your image and set them to a predetermined value - usually something like 10,10,10 for shadows and 245, 245, 245 for the highlight end. For a lot of images this works quite well, and is the basis of the first step in color and tonal correction in Photoshop. The Auto functions always assume that the highlights and shadows should be neutral, and if they really are, then it's a great thing, but when they're not, that's when the function gets fooled, and that's when you have to intervene intelligently, deciding whether that should be neutral or have a cast. More sophisticated softwares give you complete control over full, partial or manual corrrection.
The film profile serves a completely different purpose. It doesn't do any correction at all, but helps the scanner to reproduce the film "as is" including whatever nuances that give that film its character. It's always good to have a good scanner profile, as it provides the "source" profile for the conversion to your Photoshop RGB working space - the intermediate destination.
Almost every piece of scanned film can be improved on from what the actual film looks like, and that's where it's easy to get confused about profile and setting end points in the scanning app. It's entirely possible to do both and get even better results. The profile helps record the character of the film and the fine tuning of endpoints helps make your file look its best.