Anyone who has scanned a Polaroid with a flatbed scanner has experienced these annoying and distracting patterns: Newton rings. Named after Sir Isaac Newton himself, these rings are caused by an interference pattern produced by the reflection between two surfaces - in this case your scanner glass and the clear top sheet of your Polaroid. The theory is a bit more complicated than just that, but that’s the essence of the idea.
In the context of scanning Polaroids, they are visible as concentric circular alternating bright and dark, (sometimes very colorful) rings on your digital scan - see examples below.
|scanned photo||100% crop||200% crop|
So, how to prevent this?
The reflective surface of your Polaroid is actually touching the glass of the scanner. We want to stop this from happening. The key is to elevate the Polaroid off of the glass, so that they do not touch (but not so far off the glass that you move outside the focus point of the scanner) - about 5mm is perfect.
A Polaroid scan adapter (if you can find one) is your easiest option. Unfortunately, specialised scan adapters are few and far between these days. Luckily for you, there are some easy and creative solutions to get around this:
- Create a film adapter from two pieces of cardboard stuck together. Cut into one, in the shape of a Polaroid, and attach some double sided tape to keep it in place.
- Use your empty Polaroid film cassette, load your photo back into it and then place it face down on the scanner. Careful not to scratch the glass!
- Remove the cover of an old compact disc case, use double sided tape on the inside of the cover and stick your Polaroid on it.
Got a personal favorite method that we don't know about? Write to us and we'll add it to the list!