Analog: Developing film while traveling

February 4th, 2010
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A challenge of my exploration into shooting analog is that outside of the New York area, I have no idea where to go to get film developed by real professionals. So, I have to go to the few one hour photo spots left in whatever town I’m in.
The upside is that invariably they are cheaper than the $13-15 I spend per roll for developing and scanning my film. The downside is that the people doing this are almost invariably incompetent.
In Seattle, the guy at the Ritz knew what he was doing for the most part, but the hi-res scans aren’t nearly the quality of my typical scans, meaning that I’ll have to go back and rescan if I want to use the images for anything in the future.
In Hawai’i, the staff rotated nearly every time I showed up, meaning that I had to re-explain what I wanted every time to a worker who basically had no idea what to do with film.
Most recently, in Aspen, I got little bit of everything at the Wolf Camera, a part of the Ritz Camer chain. Everyone there gave me something different. No one was familiar enough with film to know what their standard procedure was supposed to be. I got charged different rates (all pretty low), scans at different resolutions and worse, one of my negatives got so beat up that I got scans like the image above.
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And on another set of rolls, the scans were all cropped to 4×5 cutting out the edges of the frame.
Oddly, based on resolution, they also split up the images from a roll into as many as 5 discs. Something about the software they use decides that a CD should only be up to 20% full and after that, the data has to go on to another disc. And another. And another. Better yet, they charge you for each disc. Sometimes.
It’s a bad scene all around. But, if you’ve got no other choice, you do what you have to do. Just keep in mind that who handles your photos can be very important.

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2 Comments:

  1. Clay, I actually think the artifacts on the top photo are pretty cool. Did it print the same way? It gives it a kind of, “I shot this in really difficult circumstances using the only camera I could smuggle into East Germany” vibe.

  2. Hahaha. I haven’t gotten any prints, so I can’t say for certain. I’ll agree that the effect might be nice if I had been doing it on purpose. But the larger risk of them fucking up the negative on “The” shot gives me caution.

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