M. I. Droz Photography | Update - Arts in Stark/Akron Canton Airport and CVNP 2018 Calendar/Film Processing Thoughts

Update - Arts in Stark/Akron Canton Airport and CVNP 2018 Calendar/Film Processing Thoughts

November 05, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

It's been a great Spring, Summer and Fall since the last post.  I was privileged to be selected for an exhibit this summer at the Akron Canton Airport sponsored by Arts in Stark (https://www.artsinstark.com/). I also had one image selected for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park 2018 Calendar, which can be ordered online using this link: https://www.conservancyforcvnp.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Calendar-2018-Retail_Web-form-3.pdf.  I encourage all to support the park by purchasing this terrific calendar.

Over the summer I started to delve into shooting film a lot more.  Using 35mm for street and more casual shooting and mid-format (120) for more planned and contemplative shots I have enjoyed the more deliberate approach required for film both in terms of getting the right exposure and a more thoughtful rather than instinctive composition.  Aim and spray just doesn't work.  But, what I really have enjoyed is the time lapse between the capture and the viewing of the images.  Getting a developed roll back from processing and seeing the prints or scans can take at least a week, and longer if you use a lab from out of town.  That time allows me to more critically assess the images.  I think this really makes me better at "seeing" the image in terms of how it will best be captured on film, and I think it has also helped be more thoughtful with digital as well.  Of course, with digital it is easier to edit, but as so many have noted it is much better to optimize the exposure in the camera.  

The one challenge with film is finding someone who can develop it competently and can deliver optimum scans if you chose to not make prints from the negative.  There are a variety of options available, but for those of us not living near major metro areas it can be a challenge.  In my brief experience with this I would offer a few criteria to consider.  In no particular order of importance, they are:

  • Experience - Using a lab that has been around a while and is staffed by competent and experienced people is essential.  
  • Volume - Using a lab that is busy offers some assurance that they systems are clean and the chemicals are fresh.  Infrequently used equipment won't work as well, and less reputable labs might be tempted to push their chemicals to save money.  
  • Services - Developing is the base service, but ideally you want someone who can do scans of various sizes and quality.  The topic of scanning is worthy of a much deeper discussion, but suffice it to say the equipment used and the competency of the person doing the scan really matters.  Getting proof prints is useful, and of course, if you want prints from negatives the lab has to have experienced printers who can make your negative look the way you want it. 
  • Communication - Another factor is how willing the lab is to talk to you.  This may sound obvious, but my experience is access can range from literally none (all done by web site connection) to direct contact with a person who will convey your concerns to the person doing the scans.  Also, some are willing to provide advice on how to expose your film, what film stocks produce images that might fit your objectives, and tips on how to read your negatives to evaluate them for proper exposure.  All of this can give you added value for the cost of the developing and scans.
  • Cost - Aside from the cost of the film, which can range from $5.00 to $12.00 depending on film stocks, developing and scans can together range from $15 to $40 depending on the size of the scans.  Also, you have to pay for shipping to and from the lab.  This can add another $15.00 to $20.00 depending on your preferred shipping method.  Keep in mind, what is coming back to are the negatives and any proof prints, so the labs typically will want to insure safe passage by paying for preferred handling.  

Happy to field any questions on this, including sharing some references to labs I use.

Enjoy the Fall!



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