A Lesson In Post Processing

I am wrapping up a roll 35mm of Fuji 400H and Kodak Portra 160 at the moment in order to try out Indie Film Lab. Nothing special, just snapshots under various shooting conditions. Most of those suboptimal. While going through their order form and choosing various "post processing" options it struck me how narrow the range of variation was when it comes to normal appearance of photographs when shooting film.

Of course you can do anything you want once the image is scanned. What I am talking about is the baseline normal photographic image. You may look at this as some sort of limitation but in my book I look at it as a baseline for my digital. By comparison most of the digital "normal" I see or "slight tweaks" that people speak of look positively grotesque, over the top, and downright strange. At least to my eyes. I like "normal".

Here are the variations in finishing treatment that they offer as a standard range to choose from if you are coming at them blind not knowing what they do by default for the first time. I think this is a great idea. Of course I am sure they will work with you to produce a finished default to your choice - problem is that most shooters really don't have one unless they have worked with film for a while with some degree of consistency. Even if they do, they may find it difficult to articulate in any way that's meaningful to a new lab without going through a lot of trial and error.

I said many times before - I am not a film elitist or some sort of anti-digital. I want it all. I want this as my "normal" OOC digital under a wide variety of conditions. I know that's not likely but the horse shit we have been sold over the last decade is "auto" color, contrast, dynamic range, intelligent metering, etc, etc. In other words we have been sold a bill of goods - all the auto-crap in the world doesn't seem to produce an OOC "normal" baseline remotely comparable to an "OOC" baseline for film. More appropriately an "OOL" - out of lab. Now I realize there is a lot of stuff that goes on between your exposure and delivery of scans but in reality it's a black box. I don't give a shit if the black box has people in it or a computer. It seems to me that the black box that is so so so so much "better" every year and so so so "intelligent" seems to produce OOC results that are rubbish compared to my old black box.

I have mentioned that I will continue to shoot film as long as I can. Not for everything but for things I care about as well as to keep some sort of level-set for what I want my "normal" to look like.

Heck even Walgreens black box which contains no people and a Norisu scanner set to auto does a better job than my multi-thousand dollar black boxes… Random snapshot at the top on Portra 160 last year.


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