Exposure - for the lab or me?
Color negative film. I wonder how you pros are doing it. If one have pictures of a beautiful sunset, then the lab is trying to correct the picture, ending up with "gray" prints... Is one to expose sunsets for the lab or is there some tricks here. Or, is digital correction only way (not all of us have a darkroom).
Have you considered changing labs? It sounds like the lab is running the film through a preset process, and then just chucking it back to you with no attention to detail.
How the lab prints come out really depends on the operator who's operating it - and how much common sense he'd apply to his task.
That said, sunset scenes are difficult because he'd have no idea if you want it rendered dark (give priority to sunset itsefl) or render it light (give priority to persons or objects in the scene as well). What I would do is to take the first print and give explicit instructions on how you want it printed. If he doesn't, won't, or can't do that, then it's time to pick another lab.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
The last time I used a lab to do some custom colour prints, I gave him a proof print along with the neg and said "match these colours" - Six prints later, I got the results I was after (and I only paid for the two ordered). If your lab isn't prepared to work to your requirements, tell the boss and then find one that will.
I am unsure if you are talking about the negative development stage or printing off a negative. Both give similar problems and cause similar angst.
Film shouldn't be taken to a stock high street lab with automatic machinery; the processor will correct and "optimise" exposure, resulting in your intentions being literally washed away. These consumer-level labs operate on an economy of scale relying on quantity and speed; adjustments only hold the process up.
A custom, pro-level lab given instructions (or a proof) will monitor exposure but for the best results shoot on transparency film; this cannot be "meddled" with at the processing stage, but the onus is on you from the moment the film goes into the camera, to nail the exposure. You wouldn't have the same grace of latitude as negative film.
Colourimetrics etc., are the preserve of hybridised d***** workflow that is all we have now, or will be moving to (not part of APUG discussion) where things like exposure are taken care of by you, or the lab if they have the time and skills, and you, if you have the money to pay them!
“The photographer must determine how he wants the finished print to look before he exposes the negative.
Before releasing the shutter, he must seek 'the flame of recognition,' a sense that the picture would reveal
the greater mystery of things...more clearly than the eyes see." ~Edward Weston, 1922.
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If you go to a drugstore/retail chain lab (like a Rite Aid I work at), after scanning the film, our computers apply "auto" adjustments to them, typically making all sunset shots with a gray cast over the photo. The stupid computer thinks it's underexposed and jacks up the brightness. Since I'm a photographer, I go through all my customers photos and correct the images to look like how they should. If you were to go to just about any other similar photo processing location, chances are the employee doesn't know/doesn't care and just leaves the image to be printed with the automated adjustments.
Just about any professional lab I've been to, the prints come out just as I exposed. Probably because they know what they're doing.
It all depends on where you bring it to, and who is doing it. No matter where you go, you're always welcome to ask questions about their workflow before you hand the film over to help you decide. My general rule of thumb is, if all they know is they put the film cartridge in a box which eventually spits it out the negative, then they run it through the computer which prints out the photos.... just walk away.
"If it can be written or thought, it can be filmed." - Stanley Kubrick
if it is 35mm c41 ... send your film to kerry's warwick 1hr photo.
she's here: http://kerryswarwickphoto.com/ ...
she is the last lab in my area, and she is great !
if it is larger, or slide film, get a cheap scanner, scan it and adjust the levels yourself
in a 50$ version of photoshop ... it is pretty easy .. scan with no auto adjustment
then after it is scanned go to levels, bring the left + right sliders to the hump ( or when YOU think it looks good )
and adjust the contrast ( center slider ) till it looks good to you ...
then upload it to kerry, and ask her to look at it, so it looks good to her too ...
there should really be a rudimentary scanning and adjustment form here on apug, seeing 90% of
the labs are all hybrid, collect film files via email &c ... even a 50$ version of editing software
can do HUGE things to save people the annoyance of dealing with a lab that has someone who doesn't care
behind the wheel ... and it will help people upload to the apug gallery, seeing that can be the weak link.
it isn't rocket science, it isn't trickery, it isn't like people are making HDR prints here, or whatever ...
good luck !
Last edited by jnanian; 05-05-2012 at 10:02 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Some labs will allow you to specify, "No corrections" in the printing, but I'm not sure about the processing. Agree, talk to the lab manager. I've had great results with mail order using Precision Camera & Video in Austin, TX, and North Coast Photo Services in San Diego.
I use color negative film. I see no reason to use transparency film if the result I want is the print and not something to project. Back in the old days where there are many 1hr labs nearby what I would do is to let the lab do what they want. Then I pick out the important shots (because many shots are simply bad no matter how they are printed) and bring them back to the lab and have them reprint as per my instructions (make it darker, bluer etc..) until they get what I want. I have found that after using the lab for a while the people there know my preferences and will be able to make prints close to what I want.
Nowaday, it's more difficult so I only have the negative developed, no prints, no CD. After I got the negatives I scan them all to see what I have. I will then pick out the good shots and go to my darkroom and make my own prints.
You need to work with a pro lab.
Then you calibrate your monitor, download his profile, soft proof to the profile, then send the file and tell them to print with no corrections. A pro lab will have a process in control so that when you both work to the same standard, the prints come out exactly as you saw on your screen.
MPIX is one lab. I use AiProLab.com. Prints are not 15 cents, but you get what you pay for. Forgot, Ai needs the file sent to them in RGb, not sRG.
I have no faith in the local processor run by high school students or retail clerks.