Difference btwn prints and negs

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by anyte, Aug 3, 2004.

  1. anyte

    anyte Member

    Messages:
    701
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    35mm
    After reading something about the processing difference between slides and prints I thought I would experimentally scan some of my negatives and see how much of a difference there is between the negatives and the prints. I was a bit shocked. Even though I've noticed a significant difference between the prints and how I remember the scene when I took the shot I figured that it was probably a normal and acceptable difference - after all people talk about correcting images so that they better match the way a person remembers the scene. I recently developed a roll with a number of storm clouds which is what I used for my test scans. I was delighted to see the stormclouds appear with that natural nasty yellow cast and the sky in the background a crisp clear blue. Now I wonder how the lab managed to alter the images so that they came out with a red cast instead. I scanned some negatives from a few other rolls and found that the prints are considerably darker than the negatives.

    I could post some examples, but I'll wait until someone asks.

    I guess my question would be, how normal is this? Or should I maybe try out a couple more labs to see if I get different results. The results I've gotten aren't horrible - some of the prints are a bit better than the scans I got from the negatives but most of them are darker and lose some of the detail that I orginally tried to capture.

    Opinions appreciated. Thank you.
     
  2. glbeas

    glbeas Member

    Messages:
    3,307
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Location:
    Roswell, Ga.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Differences like these are why some folks shoot chromes, you don't get the strange color variations that seem to be the norm from one lab to the next.
     
  3. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    anyte,
    the lab you used created "machine" prints, with little or no manual intervention. no problem with this, in most cases average scenes of light and dark with an average mix of colors will print pretty well. all automatic color printing equipment assume an average mix of color and average range of lights to darks.
    You say two things. In simple terms, the print showed warmer colors than you remember and the prints were darker than you remember the scene.
    the sensors in the printing equipment read your "abnormal" negative, i.e., bluer or cooler than average and lighter than average and compensated to make it average by warming up the color balance and giving too much exposure to your negative.
    there are 5 ways around the problem:
    1. as Gary suggests, shoot slides so the lab can't misinterpet your negative.
    2. find another lab which will print closer to what you want. (ironically, they may print some of your pictures taken under different lighting conditions "worse" than the original lab)
    3. pick your good negatives and have them printed manually. (fairly expensive)
    4. set up a darkroom and print the negatives yourself. (you then have total control of the way the print looks)
    5. scan your negatives and print them on a good color printer.
    Take care,
    Tom
     
  4. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

    Messages:
    2,410
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2004
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I might add just one suggestion to yours Tom. That is if there is an obvious colour cast, take this back to the lab and point it out as being incorrect. Normally (here anyway) they can make adjustments and reprint more correctly. Here we wouldn't expect to be charged for the reprint.
     
  5. anyte

    anyte Member

    Messages:
    701
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Excuse my ignorance but once you have slides are you more or less stuck with the slide? Or can you still make/print images from the slide?
     
  6. b.e.wilson

    b.e.wilson Member

    Messages:
    141
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Provo, Utah
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    There are several ways to make prints from slides:

    Ilfochrome prints (used to be Cibachrome): a method where dyes in the paper are bleached out after exposure.

    Kodak R3/R3000: a method similar to printing negatives, but with a reversal exposure step added.

    Copy the slide to negative film and print from the negative (only works well for 4x5 or larger).

    Digital scans and printing with inket or digital prints onto color photographic paper.

    Take a negative picture of the slide projected on the wall. Not the best for quality.
     
  7. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Milan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Tom and b.e. hit it on the head. I am a firm believer in doing your own printing.
     
  8. anyte

    anyte Member

    Messages:
    701
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I'd give it a try if I could but I can't imagine where I'd set up a darkroom. I live in a two bedroom apartment with a shoebox size kitchen and a bathroom about half that size. And of course, the kitchen is open on two sides and one end faces the big doors for the balcony.

    Had I known last winter, when I moved, that I would be taking up photography I would have found someplace that would accommodate a darkroom.

    Thank you everyone. I'll have to give some thought to your input and figure out what will work best for me.
     
  9. 127

    127 Member

    Messages:
    581
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Location:
    uk
    Shooter:
    127 Format
    It could well be the lab, but before you blame them totally, you also need to factor in the human visual system, which is rather lax at recording colour.

    We see things as the colour we "know" they are, factoring out lighting. This is usefull as it means we still know that the large orange and black thing, which looks red and back in dusk lighting is still a tiger. The most comon photographic example of this is tungsten lighting Vs daylight. We don't see light bulbs as orange but the film does. The film is "right", but not what we want, so we correct for it.

    Unless you're scanner, and monitor are calibrated, then there's no reason to sugguest that it's any more "right" than the lab - just more as you'd like it to be. If you're printing out from a scanned image, then you're even more likely to be getting random colours.

    I'd be cautios of calling either version "right" - it's more likely that the monitor is simply closer to your perfered vision, than the lab print. This re-enforces the do your own darkroom stuff argument - that way you get the version you want. When we print b&w we don't produce one print and call it "right" - we produce a selection, and pick the best, or prefered. Thats a value judgement. Why should colour printing be any different?

    Of course it's also possible the lab screwed up...

    For some REAL fun re colour vision try reading: http://www.wendycarlos.com/colorvis/color.html
    (and yes it IS that Wendy Carlos).

    Ian
     
  10. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

    Messages:
    4,518
    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2002
    Location:
    Ipswich, Mas
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Damn!! Tried that site three times without success. Are you sure about the address?
     
  11. anyte

    anyte Member

    Messages:
    701
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Here's a couple examples - I don't think this is a callibration issue.

    Print - this is what the print looks like. I have not edited the scan.
    [​IMG]

    Negative - again, this is unedited, I didn't even bother to remove the imperfections.
    [​IMG]

    It's not a matter of how I want the image to look. I know that the sky was not the least bit pink or orange when I took the shot. The yellow in the negative may be a bit over bright but that may well be from the way the shot was exposed but the colors are truer to what I actually shot.

    Print - unedited.
    [​IMG]

    Negative - unedited.
    [​IMG]

    Perhaps neither is right. The negative is over bright - but that would be because of the time of day and the position of the sun. I shouldn't be shooting in the middle of the afternoon under a clear blue sky. My understanding is that you lose contrast under those conditions which leads me to believe the negative shows a truer image than the over dark print. The print looks fine but most of the detail is lost in how dark it is.

    I can live with my actual mistakes - that's what I'm going to learn from.

    Sorry about the image sizes.
     
  12. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

    Messages:
    4,518
    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2002
    Location:
    Ipswich, Mas
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'm a little puzzled by the R3/3000 description. While I haven't used Kodak chemistry, there was NO "reversal exposure" with either PhotoColor or Tetenal.

    There is a special type of Color film - "Internegative" - made without the "dark yellow" bias. Copying onto that, and then printing, will result in *very good* color fidelity. The "best" commercial labs will use this stuff... the others - who knows? - apparently out-dated Kodak Gold, from what I've seen.
     
  13. 127

    127 Member

    Messages:
    581
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Location:
    uk
    Shooter:
    127 Format
    It seems to be down. Sods Law - it was working fine when I posted the link this am. You can find it on goole with: wendy carlos retinex, but that link is down too.

    There are other retinex pages, but Wendy's are particularly good.

    Bazzarely, retinex theory (discovered By Edwin Land of Polarioid fame) sugguests that in a situation like the sky image posted above, where the sky is predominantly red, is exactly the situation when you'd swear there wasn't any red to be seen!

    Ian
     
  14. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

    Messages:
    809
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2002
    Location:
    Cary, North
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Let's look in another direction. How about your monitor? Is it calibrated properly? There are instructions with most monitors that show you how to do that.

    Is your scanner calibrated? If you have a "sheila" negative or print (That's a perfectly color corrected negative/print) you could scan ithat "perfect color" image and see if the "perfect color" shows up on your (calibrated) monitor. If it doesn't, then you should be able to adjust your scanner so that your calibrated negative/print matches the view on your screen.

    All the other posters above have valid points. But, you also have the complication of scanning and monitor performance to complicate this color business.

    That's why I stick with black and white :D
     
  15. anyte

    anyte Member

    Messages:
    701
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Again, my ignorance is showing, but I don't at all get the retinex stuff. What I did read dealt primarily with color blindness and how colors are affected by sodium and blue light. I didn't read anything that formed a connection for me between looking at a blue sky and ending up with a red sky in print.

    I'm also lost on the whole callibration deal. If scans of my prints look like the actual prints then it seems reasonable to me to assume that the negatives are scanning relatively true.

    I know that when I view a "scale" from black to white on my monitor I can see the full range from white to black. And I repeat, my print scans match the prints. If you're saying that I'm not really seeing what I think I'm seeing, that the image and the scan do not really match then it's all moot. In which case I'm sorry to have wasted everyone's time.
     
  16. 127

    127 Member

    Messages:
    581
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Location:
    uk
    Shooter:
    127 Format
    Retinex is an example of how the colours we perceive, are not the same colours as we're actually experiencing. Hopefully the site is back. The following image is composed of only red and white: http://www.wendycarlos.com/colorvis/gridbig.gif

    There is NO green or blue - load it into photoshop, and check with the dropper tool!

    re calibration - if your scans look OK on screen, then they're OK on screen. On the other hand there's no reason to assume they'l look OK when you print them, or send them to someone else. There are (at least) three problems reguarding calibration. First off we have the (false) notion of red, green and blue. Let's skip past the problems of three colour representation, and then ask WHICH three colours? "red" is a pretty vaugue concept. sRGB (a standard for computer monitors) defines the colour of "red" on a monitor. Thats not the same as the red sensor in your camera or scanner. Your printer doesn't even have a red cartridge - it has CMY and K. All of these colours are defined in terms of cieXYZ which are a set of "standard" primary colours. If you know what your red channel represents in terms of cieXYZ you can map it to any other set of primaries.

    However we still have the problem of the relative intensity of the three channels. White is defined as "equal" amounts of (say) RGB. Unfortunatly our eyes will accept just about anything as "equal" - thats why we can call daylight "white" and a lightbulb "white", even though they're actually very different colours. Again there are standards defining "white" as a cieXYZ colour mix. Your monitor probably has a "color temperature" setting, allowing you to select things like 5900K and 9000K. These are the differences between tungsten lighting and daylight - try chainging it: your images will look radically different, yet they're all just as "right". The different temptratures on a monitor look very "wrong" for about 30 seconds, then your eyes adjust, and they all look very similar. The idea of white also mixes with the idea of Gamut - monitors,printers, photographic paper, slides etc all have a physical limit on the colours they can represent. This can throw the colour balance off.

    Finally there's gamma. you would think that a pixel value of 1 would be twice as bright as one of value 0.5. This is only true in a linear colour space. Most digital image files are stored in a logarythmic format, which hopefully matches your monitor's logarythmic response. There are LOTS of reasons to store images in a linear format, but it's rarely done. You can however measure the gamma of your monitor, and adjust your images so they display correctly on it (for example the machine I'm on at the momment has a gamma of 3 - rediculously high, so all images are VERY dark).

    Sorry if this drifted into slightly digital territory - the principles are all actually analouge, and I'd guess most people who print colour, encounter this stuff. It's imply the for most of us the guy down the lab deals with it all (or not). Part of scanning, and printing colour at home is that you bring home all the problems...

    (colour is one of my pet rants...)

    Ian
     
  17. glbeas

    glbeas Member

    Messages:
    3,307
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Location:
    Roswell, Ga.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Scanning a color neg is a totally different ball game than scanning a print. In the analog process you have to use different filter settings for different brands of paper AND different brands of film. Then on top of that there are the various corrections applied for the "errors" in lighting the scene in the first place. The scanner has an automatic exposure and color balance routine, which in most cases you can influence at the time of the scan, for both reflection and transmission copy. Also the scanner has a different light source for each and needs its own tweaking between the two. So you can have prints looking fine and negs be off or vice versa if the calibration is off. Add to that the fact that you really don't know what the colors of the negative is before you scan it, unlike a print, simply because its negative color.
    Looking at the rainbow shot, I'd say the lab messed up the color and you got the scan right but the tree looks good on the print and the scan looks too red assuming the bark is supposed to be grey.
    Bottom line is you have to be the judge as to whether the color is right, you shot the picture.
     
  18. anyte

    anyte Member

    Messages:
    701
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I still don't understand some things but I do appreciate all the input - even if I'm still confused by some of it. I'll have to explore and give some of the suggestions more thought.

    Thank you all very much.
     
  19. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,769
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2003
    Location:
    NH
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    There is green and blue when I load it into photoshop. And, yes I measured it with the dropper zoomed in.
     
  20. FrankB

    FrankB Member

    Messages:
    2,147
    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2003
    Location:
    Northwest UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    At least one of the photo-processors round here (Jessops) offer a manual individual inspection and adjustment during the printing process. It costs an extra £1. On the rare occasions I shoot C41 I generally go for it. Bear in mind though that the "inspection and adjustment" usually takes about a second per frame, and I've still had pretty ropey results...

    A few years ago I shot a sunset at Morecambe Bay. I had a roll of Fuji Reala in the camera, so I finished that off and then reloaded with Velvia. The Reala came back first and I was gutted. They weren't even indifferent. They were just plain awful! Then the Velvia came back containing some of the best shots I've ever taken. (I know Velvia is super-saturated and Reala isn't, but that wasn't nearly enough to account for the difference!)

    Like I said earlier, I don't shoot much C41 any more...
     
  21. 127

    127 Member

    Messages:
    581
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Location:
    uk
    Shooter:
    127 Format
    OK I should have said there is green and blue light, but there are no green or blue pixels. If you measure it, all pixels should either be X,0,0 (ie a shade of pure red), or X,X,X all pixels equal - a shade of grey. There are (should be) no pixels of the form X,Y,Z there Y>X or Z>X.

    If you soom in on the green and blue area's you'll see they're acually red and white!

    Ian