My vote for a uk lab for colour is http://www.photo-express.co.uk/. They develop and do good scans at 6Mp from 35mm for £4.50 a film. No problem with quality and fast turnaround. As for film recommendation - any top brand film is good. Photo-express don't do B&W or 120. Ilford's own B&W lab gets excellent recommendations. For B&W its really easy to develop your own - you don't need a darkroom for neg developing - just a dark space/changing bag to load the reels/tank. You can get decent scans from Epsons sub £100 scanner with the film attachment - although scanning is tedious and darkroom with an enlarger is fun.
I liked the framing with the arch in #1. #2 and #4 show good composition skills are starting. I would suggest that you use a yellow or orange filter for a few black & white rolls to see how they will change things for you.
The Scans have been discussed, so I will not comment on them.
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I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.
LIke a lot of people said, they look like bad scans. The Scanner you described sounds like a minilab-type. My experience with those is that a lot has to do with the the care of its operator. If the person who develops and scans your film takes his/her time and tries to get the best possible negatives and scans (scans will never be super-great), then you will be happy with the results. If he or she is in a hurry because of so many orders, or just doesn't care or doesn't know how to oeprate the machine, then you might get bad results.
If you took a photo of your negatives against a white background (even an iPhone photo), we could probably tell you to a greater or lesser degree whether the problem was the scanning or your exposure.
I've got crap scans from those machines before and come home and taken a look at the negatives and felt relieved because the negatives were just fine.
I will echo what pstake said. I take colour films to Snappy Snaps in Lincoln and they do an excellent job. Twice I have had them do reversal films for me which they cannot do in Lincoln - they send them to their central facility and the quality is dreadful: scratches in the emulsion, enough hair to make a bald man happy, loads of dust . . .
what you need is one silver gelatin print - and then you will not be disappointed any more. Bad scan leads to comparison with digital and disappointment - but when you will hold one nice fiber based print from your negative in your hands - you will know what is this "using film" all about. You will hold it in your hands and say: "I made this" . My first silver gelatin print on FB double weight mat paper was done by one lab - after that I realized that scans are just thumbnails - and I got myself enlarger.
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I agree they look like bad scans of some nicely composed images. But it also looks like you are missing some shadow detail. That could be the scan too, but I would try a roll where you set the speed of the film to half of what it says on the box. I bet you will prefer them to box speed.
I think you are are on the right track. My advice if it will be helpful to you is:
Start with one 400 ISO B&W film and learn the exposure* and contrast aspects that fit your photographic vision.
If possible develop the film yourself. That way you are in control of the chemistry. Follow the mfg's box speed for the film and time and temperature for processing. Once you are making consistent exposures you can vary developing time to modify contrast.
If using filters for the sky and cloud definition stick to yellow and orange. You can add to your filter collection later as needed.
Cut out two "L" shaped pieces of mat board and learn to crop your images by sliding them over a work print like a frame.
The images you presented have been discussed as to the quality of the scans so I'll comment on composition which I will admit and agree are a matter of personal taste. This is how I would frame them:
#1 You cut off the person's feet. I would have shown her feet and less of the top of the structure especially on the right side where a slight sliver of sky shows. Also crop some on the right to give more importance to the figure in the image.
#2 I would crop the left side so that the letters to the left of "car park" don't show and crop the right at the end of the vertical column so the horizontal beam doesn't show.
#3 The lighting and subject are vague.
#4 I would show more of the tree (left side) and crop some of the negative space on the right as well as some of the bottom.
#5 The water line is not horizontal and the people's heads are just above the sand line that is similar in value to the heads. When in a situation like that take more frames from different positions. You can decide which one works best later.
You can also * bracket exposures when shadows and highlights are far apart. Get an 18% gray card and learn how to use it since you are most likely using the camera for metering. I'm not familiar with that camera and it's metering capabilities. Meters see the world as medium gray so metering a bright or dark subject will not give you an accurate exposure.
I hope this has been of some help. Keep shooting, its only film.