Prints look bad!
I'm new to film and I haven't learned how to print yet, so I sent 5 rolls to the local shop to get developed and printed just to see how things looked with my lenses ect. I shot digital for some time, so I understand exposure and have many qualified digital prints, so I'm not sure what went wrong.
Every print, for the most part, looks like hell. Seems like some have no clarity or the ink smeared or something and almost every photo is very middle grey looking. No real blacks or whites.
Why is this? My paps thinks it's probably because they use a machine to print everything.
It's because whoever made the prints is incompetent and/or didn't care. If you want good prints, you either need to do it yourself or go to a top-tier professional lab - the Local Shop* no longer cuts it. The minilabs can produce excellent prints, but they require a skilled operator to do that whereas your average corner store uses a (probably just toilet-)trained monkey.
It's also possible you made some error like underexposure that would make it very difficult to get good prints from your negatives.
* for Local People
Where are you? Some local shops/labs are very poor and APUGers can give you sources of processing and printing but there's no point unless we know where you are.
I take it that these are B&W prints from B&W negs but are the prints silver gelatin, RA4 balanced for B&W prints or inkjets?
If you are in the U.K. try Ilford's service. Proper processing and silver gelatin paper. If the prints from Ilford are poor then you can conclude that it was your exposure. I have seen Ilford's care and professionalism and it is second to none
Thanks for the info polygot. The other thing I didn't mention is that the skies are all washed out, in every print. Not an ounce of detail in the sky! Again, I'm not pro, but all of these shots were exposed at hand held shutter speeds, with tri-x, so there should be detail there.
pentaxuser: I'm not 100% sure what kind of prints they are. They are 4" glossy prints. It cost about $15 a roll. Yes, black and white, tri-x or t-max 400. I'm in Chicago, IL. I sent them to central camera, which is the only camera shop in Chi, and I assumed they were reputable, but I may be wrong.
Open offer. I'm in NW Tn., and wanting more experience in printing in the Darkroom. PM me for my address, and send me a couple negs, I'll attempt to print them, and will send them back to you, at no obligation to you. More fun and experience for me ;)
If not. No worries either way.
If the sky was cloudy, I would expect it to come out completely white on a print where the foreground is properly exposed because the difference in brightness is huge. If you want cloud detail and foreground detail, you need to burn-in the sky under the enlarger - just one tiny example of why people do their own printing instead of handing it off to a lab.
Originally Posted by mporter012
If you have a day of blue sky maybe with the occasional cloud, try a circular polariser or red-25 filter to darken the sky. Or at least an orange filter if you want to be a little more subtle.
I may get into trouble but here's what I think....
Many labs scan film your negative and print. If I just scanned my negative and printed, they all look muddy. No clear white and no clear black. Low in contrast. Long story short, it does take some manipulation to make a scan look like what optically printed B&W image would.
My guess is, the operator just scanned and printed. Printing B&W this way takes a whole different skills and mindset from doing the same with color. I agree with polygot. The operator didn't care or know how to do it correctly.
This certainly is interesting. It makes me want to get my $65 back. I'm dying to learn how to print, but it just hasn't happened yet. Thanks for the great responses!
Hey, wait a minute.
Central Camera is as good as anybody. They'e been there for 100 years. This wasn't processed by your average high school dropout who just came over from the candy department. These people have the skill and experience to do it right. I think you should go back and ask them what happened. They have people there who can look at a bad print and make a pretty good guess at what point an error was introduced since the film left the factory. They can have an attitude with people who have an attitude and act like they know more than they do, but if you go in there genuinely looking for knowledge, they will treat you right.
pbromaghin - I am well aware of central camera's reputation. They are extremely kind and helpful when I am in the store. Nonetheless, the prints remain as they are. I am only occasionally in the loop now, but I think I will heed your advice and make a call and see what they say. If the other comments are correct, I imagine they took shortcuts with my processing, rending the crappy results.