I think the prints look quite good. In particular the first one.
I'd be interested in seeing an example of what you consider to be a better print.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
seems for me - Lab did mistake
Neg Dev : over diluted & old & Low temperature / Because film has very low Gamma but no missed details .
That's the whole reason why I went back to b/w and home processing.
Originally Posted by herb
I love the smell of fixer in the morning...It smells like...PHOTOGRAPHY!
The photo blog has moved...
I Love Film
: by Susan McNutt, the mad photographer
To me, the first image looks flat, your lab's printing is too low in mid-tone contrast, but typical of non-custom lab prints.
Second print looks ok-ish, technically. I'm sure it could benefit from dodging and burning but the negative was perhaps not particularly compelling.
Third image looks washed out. I suspect you weren't adequately shading the lens, and you might have some haze or something in the lens too, there's a lot of flare mudding the shadows in his face.
Use a lens-shade and if a lot of light falls on the lens be sure its clean coated glass, soup and print yourself, and shoot more.
Also, don't use a film because everyone says its good. Use a film because you've shot a few rolls and seen something you like from it. Look for success and then repeat what worked for you.
What he said!
Originally Posted by Barry S
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Shoot another roll of FP4 at box speed, send it off to Ilford Photo's processing lab and see what comes back.
It would be great if you had your own darkroom!
fp4 is a beautiful film when processed by someone who knows what they are doing. I would, as others have said, rate it at box speed. I'd also ditch the flash and stick with a straight-forward exposure. To me, these in-camera flashes aren't something worth using, particularly for fine art work. Is there a particular reason that you don't process on your own? it's much much cheaper than having a lab do it, and though it is a pain at first, you eventually learn to love it.
Here you go. Your pics are fine, just printed too low in contrast.
Looking at the original pictures posted, and comparing them to Chris Crawford's edited versions of those pictures, it's obvious that the lab didn't print the negatives to their full capacity.
Ian Grant's account of safety versus quality hits the head on the nail.
What you can do, when it comes to having your lab developing your film, is to interview them. Ask them what chemistry they use, and how long they would normally process the FP4+ film. When you know that, you have at least one constant in your process. Then, exposure is entirely under your control. FP4+ has quite a bit of tolerance for exposure differences, but I would send them a test roll, where you bracket your exposures in normal contrast lighting. This way you can know more what to expect from them after they print all the versions. It's basically the only control you have when you send film to a lab. It will never be perfect until you find someone, usually charging a lot more, that pays attention to every frame they print. The extra money usually goes to cover the cost of all the prints that didn't turn out well.
Or, like others have suggested, you can do it at home on your own, because that allows you processing control as well.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh