Priceless lab tech moments.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by bob100684, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. bob100684

    bob100684 Member

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    1) Clearing a paper jam in the blix rack only to have the rack slip out of your hand and contaminate the developer.
    2) "Do I have to use matte film for matte prints?"
    3)(at a consumer lab) "Why can't you print this, It's just negatives?"...disc film.
    4) Customer coming in with a roll of film entirely pulled from the cassette, wondering if we can "save" it for them.
    5) How can you call yourselves a one hour photo if you can't process all these rolls in an hour? Our print processor, if put into full auto mode using 6" wide paper can do 18 rolls an hour....not a shopping bag full of film.
     
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    There was the roll of film I had a few weeks ago at my 1-hour job that was covered in a weird, oily substance. No way we were going to run it through, and another tech pulled it out in the light just to show the customer. Especially strange was that the whole roll was oily, but the emulsion was not sticking to the base when it rolled together. They never told us what it was, nor how it got in the film canister and all through the roll. Perhaps they dropped it in a cold deep-fryer?

    Then there was the lady who wanted us to digitally decrease the size of her butt in a treasured photo. We re-did it for her three times, to the point where there the photo was very obviously altered but she refused to believe that the photo was an accurate depiction of the size of her rump. Ma'am, if you read this, your ass really is that big! Accept it, and move on.

    Every once in a while we get someone who wants a rectangular print from a square negative and wonders why we cut the feet off. My answer? "We thought you'd rather lose the feet than the head." (more politely put, of course.)

    Of course, as Bob noted lab techs are not immune to mistakes or pure stupidity either. One time we received a roll to be printed as 3.5x5 and my colleague didn't read the 3. and printed the whole roll as 5x5. Or the time I opened a nearly 400 foot long roll of 6" Fuji CA paper in room light, and took a good 30 seconds to figure out why the paper was blue, or visible at all.

    - Justin
     
  3. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    "You were holding the entire press run for that shot????"

    Best summer job I ever had - darkroom technician at the Vancouver Sun newspaper during the late '70s - front page (main art!) photo space left open for photo of Ferdinand Marcos arriving at Vancouver airport - and all the photos were either out of focus or he was partially obscured!

    Matt

    P.S. they weren't my shots!
     
  4. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    they weren't my shots!

    Yeah, yeah...that's what they all say!
     
  5. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Your lab mixed up my photos with someone elses. Ok, that sometimes happens. Let's fill out a tracer, sez I.
    No need. They mixed them up with my mother's pictures.
    Golly, what a coincidence.
    Yes; and they did it in the middle of the roll too. I got some of her Hawaii pictures, and she got some of mine.
    Hmm. Were you on vacation together, queries myself?
    Of course, says customer.
    What kind of camera does your mother have?
    A Nikon, exactly like mine........
     
  6. BWKate

    BWKate Member

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    LOL! That's my job day in and day out!!! The stories I could tell, right Justin! I do work in a one hour photo lab and sometimes I just shake my head. I just hate it when I get all these redos because the colour doesn't match their original prints that the customer did not provide. I guess I'm supposed to read their mind on what the colour is supposed to be. I love it when they say,"It's not the right colour!" and I say "What colour do you want it to be. Blue, green, yellow or pink?"
    Pick a colour, any colour.
     
  7. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm at my favorite lab and they sheepishly tell me that my roll went into the machine but failed to come out. Days later it reappears, perfectly processed, without so much as a scratch. The tech insists it has been in the machine the entire time.
     
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    There was also my "Noritsu Crazy Glue Repair". We had a paper jam repeatedly occur in the same area of the Noritsu printer due to one part of an elevator-type part not staying level during its travel up and down. While trying to figure out what was causing the lopsidedness I pushed the rack in a little too hard in the wrong place and break a plastic bit off the 'elevator'. I call Noritsu tech support to describe the issue, and it turns out the 'elevator' bit needs to be replaced anyways but that plastic bit is actually quite important. We have print orders piling up and need to get the printer working ASAP so the Noritsu tech says that until they can get a repair technician out with the part in a day or two I should just try crazy gluing the plastic bit back on. A quick run to the hardware aisle, come back to glue the piece in place then give it 30min to make sure the glue sets. It works! Lord only knows how expensive the machine is, but it is now working (at least temporarily, and temperamentally) thanks to a bit of crazy glue.

    One time I was filling in for someone at the order counter and a lady comes in to pick up her order. We use phone numbers to search because there tend to be fewer mix-ups than when using names so I ask the lady for hers. I search the phone number and it brings up an account under the name of "Wong", or a similar name. The lady is middle aged and has the appearance of an archetypal WASP so I say, "I'm sorry ma'am, can you please repeat your phone number? I don't think Wong is the right name!" With a very stern face she replies, "No, that's correct." I felt like I just about died of embarrassment and am sure that my face was bright red! Definitely learned a few things about assumptions right then and there.

    One positive anecdote was the time when a fellow brought in a portrait of his sister looking for advice on matting and framing. It was a very unusual portrait, full body with a low camera position looking up at her face. Beautifully lit and printed, too. Considering that it was signed something to the effect of, "Karsh, Ottawa" we suggested that he go to one of the local art framing shops, rather than a drug store!
     
  9. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member

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    I remember once dealing with a posh client at the lab I used to work for. He told me exactly what he wanted, just as he had been told by the photographer who had taken the shots of him. I had to admit I did not know what a CPA process was and suggested if he wanted a brown tone I should use some Thio. He spelt it out to remind me how stupid I was. C! P! A! No, he didn't know what it stood for but that was what he wanted. Then it clicked as I once again translated his plummy tones. 'Oh you mean Sepia?' I asked.
     
  10. bob100684

    bob100684 Member

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    I think my favorite was a customer who came in with pictures of Disney world.....followed by daddy having his way with little jimmy. Obviously we called the police, the children were taken away, but the family attempted to file a suit on the basis that we invaded their privacy by looking at their photos.
     
  11. apochromatic

    apochromatic Member

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    Had a customer whose camera film-advance didn't work - broken film sprockets - so the whole 'film' was exposed on one 'frame'. They accused us of dropping the film whilst it was wet. Huh? ...so like..er.. all the wet pictures slipped down?...
     
  12. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    50-75ish 5x7s to be made for the governor's press release,
    formal full body view next to the flag, retouched 5x7 negative.
    as i nervously put the film into the solar enlarger it slipped out of my hands
    onto the cement floor ...
    i picked it up brushed off the pebbles dirt and debris
    and began to apply a little oil from behind my ear
    (never from the nose! my boss would exclaim ).
    an hour later the prints looked nice ...
     
  13. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The chain drive on our rack and tank Pako film processor was jamming and we found that the jam was at the top of the overhead traverse about 10 feet above the floor. So, I had to climb up on the machine to unjam and oil it. While up there, I stepped on the lower chain which was quite well oiled, thank you! The machine had a 120 gallon 4 x 5 ft wash tank directly below that spot. I fell. Of course, I went into the wash tank feet first up to my chest.

    Another time, the boss told me that the run was 6 rolls short, which is exactly the capacity of one rack. So, I went into the darkroom, thinking the run was finished, checked the chain drive for hung racks and not finding one, I turned on the lights. Turns out I hung the film and got distracted and never moved the rack onto the chain drive at all. Of course there were no hung racks if I never hung it in the first place! There were 6 dry (now fogged) rolls haging in front of the developing tank.

    PE
     
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  15. bob100684

    bob100684 Member

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    another great one

    We had a fuji SFA optical minilab at the time, and I had just finished printing about 10-15 rolls of doubles. Hit the buttons to perform an all process...the machine would feed untill a small amount of exposed paper remained as a leader otherwise. "paper jam in drying section". Not nearly as large of a machine as PE's experience, but damn that was a lot of paper to pull out of the racks. The solution was cutting some at the dryer and turning, by hand, the drive gear on the last wash rack.
     
  16. bob100684

    bob100684 Member

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    on a related note, every print processor I've worked with, save one have all processed paper as a long roll, cutting into sheets after the dryer. Jams in those are relatively easy to clear as its hard to miss the roll. Why is the frontier 340 designed to cut as it exposes paper? and for god's sake why do they make their stabilizer racks without cut outs, so you have to count count the number of sheets you remove vs the number of sheets you just printed and the machine claims is jammed?
     
  17. bob100684

    bob100684 Member

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    I made the mistake of dropping a roll once as I was taking it in. The customer was shocked and upset because according to her, the shock would make all her craptacluar snapshots blurry.
     
  18. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    When running a photo department at a college and processing film shot by academics ... finding 35 mm film rewound into the cassette inside out - not hard to deal with, very hard to understand why the person concerned did not realise something was wrong ... finding 35 mm film rewound without the rewind button pressed, causing the camera sprockets to rip the film down its entire length on either side - also not hard to fix by see-saw developing the film in a dish.
     
  19. Removed Account

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    Our Noritsu QSS-3411 cuts the roll to size before the laser section.

    One of my colleagues once pulled a paper jam of about 6' (depending on my memory's lack of embellishment) all neat folded accordion style in to folds between 1/4" and 1/2". We never did figure out how that happened.
     
  20. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I've never worked in a Commercial processing - or a "One-Hour" lab ... but...

    One of the participants in a Workshop came to me and announced that her camera was now officially a "wreck" and she had to replace it. Knowing that the camera in question was a Canon A-1 and having seen exellent work from it, I asked her how she came to that conclusion.

    She had exposed a roll of film, and had it processed at the local Super Market "One-hour" station. There was *no* question that the resulting prints were a disaster. She had complained, and one of the counter-persons (not even remotely worthy of the title "Tech") had (guru from the mountain top voice) adamantly and decisively blamed her camera.

    I asked to see the developed film - part of what we were studying was trying to determine quality of processing from the appearance of the processed negatives/ transparencies ...

    The film was cut in strips - four or five to a strip - and when laid out in sequence, it looked like a barber pole - diagonal "bands" of alternating under- to over - development. Severe over and under.

    Needless to say - NO problem with the camera - the processing crew - was another matter.

    I'm still trying to figure out what happened - everyone I've talked to say that it it isn't possible to barber-pole-ize film in a processing machine like that - either deliberately or accidentally.
     
  21. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Ed;

    If the film "jumps the track" in some types of processors, this can happen as the film creeps diagonally across the rollers.

    PE
     
  22. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Just for kicks, once, I asked the one hour "tech" at a local chain drugstore: "will my pictures be out of focus if I dropped the roll of film?" She conferred with the other "tech" and came back with the answer: "only if you dropped the film AFTER you took pictures on it."
     
  23. bob100684

    bob100684 Member

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    Where'd you pull that from? The only time I ever saw an accordian type jam was when someone reinstalled the dryer on our 340 somewhat off kilter and the paper jammed at the dryer entrance.
     
  24. spoolman

    spoolman Subscriber

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    priceless lab tech moments

    My first job ever was at a pro lab here in Toronto in 1974.They had just switched to the then new E-6 process.We processed a lot of sheet film the first couple of months of operation.There was an order of 150 4x5's from one very picky studio client who did not trust anything new.So it was a big shock to us when the first 10 sheets of a 50 sheet order came out of the dryer(we used a Hostert dip n' dunk processor) looking progressively lighter as if they were light fogged.My supervisor asked me to turn on the darkroom light when the processor was empty.Upon entering the room we were hit with a strong ammonia smell.When I took a specific gravity reading of the first dev, it was almost off the scale !!!!

    We called Kodak Canada and the TSR came down,took samples of first dev. back with him and left use a new cube of first dev. concentrate.We heard back from him a few days later and found out that some dodo in the chem dept. ran out of E-6 first dev. cubes and put the concentrate in a C-41 Fix cube without rinsing it out first!!!

    Needless to say the lab owners were not happy and neither was our client.The lab had to comp the entire order otherwise he was going to take his business elsewhere.

    Doug
     
  25. bob100684

    bob100684 Member

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    my favorite tough customer was a realtor, allways bitching about how long it took to develop and print, even if we did his as a rush. He would come in at 4 and need to be at UPS by 5. Came in one day all pissed off at the end of my shift, screaming and calling my other tech a N-word. I left for a college night class, and saw him booking it down the highway, trying to get off a certain exit, so i pulled even with him and kept myself there, preventing him from getting off.
     
  26. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I have been in charge of the teaching darkroom/lab at a university for 17 years. With 3 beginning classes a semester at 24 students each, that creates plenty of opportunity for noob mistakes. This is not to say that intermediate and advance students don't make have their share of mistakes..such as the student that removed the darkslides from the 4x5 holders and proceeded to dunk the holders in the developing tank.

    Never a dull moment! Cameras set on "M" when using the strobes (instead of "X"...we have some old equipment!), prints taken from the fix, quickly rinsed and put on the drying racks (because "they are only test prints"), and that sort of things.

    Vaughn