Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

A Portable Negative Viewer Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

10 June 2024

Rummaging through drawers and boxes and closets (oh my) as we empty the ancestral home, we freeze when we come across a number 10 envelope with a few strips of color negatives enclosed. What could this be?

Saved without the prints for reference, they seem disproportionately important.

But without our flatbed scanner's transparency option, how are we going to tell?


We found a way.

All we had to do was find a diffused light source*, hold the film up and take a shot with our smartphone.

Well not "all" but that got us as far as a copy of the negative.

The next thing we needed to do was invert it to a positive, adjust tonality and color. To see what event the picture depicts. Ideally those adjustments could be saved as a plug-in we could apply to subsequent similar shots.

B&W. After applying the B&W Negative plug-in.

Color Neg. Before applying the Color Negative plug-in.

In Converting Film Negatives with Lightroom Mobile Bill Manning provides the details in a short video.

He starts by converting the negative image to a positive using the Curves tool. Just drag the Shadows up to white and drag the Highlights down to black.

Then he reveals the settings to make both color and tonal adjustments. Here's the text version for reference:

Color Module Adjustments

  • Temp: -80
  • Tint: -40
  • Vibrance: -50
  • Saturation: -15

Light Module Adjustments

  • Exposure: +1.50
  • Contrast: +10
  • Blacks: -70

After applying those settings to a color negative capture you should be able to recognize the subject immediately.


We used those settings in Lightroom mobile, more or less, for our Color Negative plug-in. For our B&W Negative plug-in we just added enabled B&W mode, which disabled the irrelevant color settings.

The plug-ins would be just a starting place for a full edit but for a portable negative viewer they're all you need.

Adobe's article titled Capture Photos With Lightroom for Mobile (iOS) details how you can make the camera accessible from your Lock screen as well as set the camera to view an image through a preset.


It might have been nice to write an iOS Shortcut to do all this with a voice command but we finished our survey of drawers and boxes and closets before we thought of that.

BackBack to Photo Corners