Saturday, November 12, 2016

Three Views of Caged Fury

Positive scan...
...negative scan...
...alternate negative scan.

I find it interesting that the print colours are so much warmer than the negative scans. It shows how much control the lab had over the look of your photos when you took them in to be processed. With digital photography, those choices are all in our hands now, for better or for worse. 

1 comment:

Jeff Shyluk said...

Depending on the process, the chemicals used to make prints are more volatile than the chemicals used in negatives. Over time, paper degrades and the pigments leach. Normally, pictures get redder as time progresses. I guess red binds better than other pigments (it does in paint), but it also tends to be more transparent in pigments, so that you need more red to make solid red than you need blue to make solid blue, again depending on the medium. Anyway, if you catch it at the right moment, pictures do get warmer as they age.

However, as you are aware, negatives also degrade over time. Since negatives are normally stored away from light and dampness, though, the fading can take longer. My experience is that once the deterioration has begun, it goes rapidly.

Film stock was designed for two markets: pro and amateur. The pro stock attempted to get the best colour fidelity possible. Amateur takes into account the types of pictures novices take: wide blue skies, sunny days, vistas, animals, and people. So they package their film (such as "holiday") so that certain colours and combinations really pop. That's not always easy, since red will bleed into green and blue is difficult to process. So there are Kodak yellows, Fuji reds and Canon blues, since each manufacturer had their own secret formula.

These colours made it into digital media. Canon's DIGIC processor is as good an example as any. All it does is compare the photo you are taking to an onboard database of similar shots. It then tweaks your photo into what's known as "crowd-pleasing Canon", with reds, blues and green that can really pop. It's not realistic colour, but it looks nice, especially in print.

You bypass DIGIC or any other processor by shooting in RAW format. Or you can undo some of the automatic tweaks in Photoshop, as well as make your own.

All the really good photo labs would also do this, too. They'd know your film stock and camera make and hand-create the adjustments themselves. Robin Williams wrecked all of that with his creepy-clown film "One Hour Photo", urgh, but like you say, the power is in our hands now. That's not so bad.