Know Your Lab


Introduction to Film Photography


Lesson Info

Know Your Lab

We've learned know your light, we know about metering, uh, we've learned about film stocks, know your film. Now we're gonna get into know your lab. And, um, labs are hugely important. Okay, you guys. I always tell people, when you are choosing your film lab as a film photographer, you are choosing a creative partner. The amount of control that a film lab and film technicians, scan technicians have over the look of your film is kind of amazing. It's a lot. So, it's just as important as knowing your light, understanding good metering. It's just as important as choosing the right film stock, that, to create the look that you want. That know your lab part, the film lab, will have just as much influence on the final look of your image as those other things. So, check this out, here's an example. This is what I mean. So this is the same negative, exact same negative, scanned by three different labs. Isn't that amazing? Woah, right? And again, same negative scanned by three different labs. Ye...

ah. Pretty, pretty amazing. So, this is what I'm talking about. So, the lab that you're using, um, the person behind the scanner, all of that has so, like, such influence on the final look of your image. So, with this one here, these were two professional labs and just a drug store. Anyone wanna take a guess on which one was the drug store? (laughter) Just throwing it out there. But even with this, these are three really great, professional labs. And these are all fine scans in and of themselves, but they're really really different. Yeah? Amy? Did you give them instruction, or just let them do their thing? Nope. Yeah, these were just sending in the film, and just seeing. So, somebody asked me here at Creative Labs last week like, how did I do this? Why did I even do this? This is the kind of research I started doing when I decided I was gonna go back to film when I was trying to find my film lab. Um, so what I did was I shot a roll, and I just kept sending that same negative out, just to see the differences. What's really amazing about this, though, is that you could even have the same lab, and get a slightly different look from the same lab each time. So, not only is it important that you choose your lab really well and wisely, but also that you really communicate what your preferences are. Because like I said, these are all fine negatives. This is portrait 800, right? We talked about how portrait 800 can kinda be a little pink, it can be a little yellow, it can be scanned a lot of different ways, and you really see that here, right? Like this one definitely has more yellow tones. This one's cooler. So, what's amazing is it's really up to the person, that scan technician who is looking at your film, it has a lot to do with what they like, what their preferences are, if you don't give them any kind of direction. And they can scan to what their eye likes, which might not be what your eye likes. So, it's a really important decision.

Class Description

Stop with the excuses, grab your film camera and get out there and make amazing images! If you’re comfortable with your DSLR and post processing, then learning to use your film camera is easier than you think! In this beginner course, Sandra Coan walks through how to shoot with film so that you feel comfortable, confident, and excited to take the best pictures! She’ll talk about choosing your film and how to find and work with a lab to process your images.

This course will cover:

  • The differences and similarities between film and digital
  • How a camera meter works and how to meter for film
  • The different film options and how they affect your photo
  • How to find the right lab to process your images

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of using film. Sandra will show you how to slow down during your photo shoot, focus on what you’re trying to capture, and ultimately get a great image straight out of camera.