Basic Scans provide the benefit of shooting film at a more affordable rate. This service includes developing, scanning, minor color and density correction in scanner and labeling of folders for corresponding film stocks. Basic Scans are delivered with the expectation that some editing will be required on our client’s end to reach their desired aesthetic. On occasion, Basic Scans are sent out and little to no editing is needed. This is wholly dependent on the condition of the film shot (expiration date and/or the way the film has been stored), proper exposure, and functionality of your gear. This is a great choice for film shooters wanting to take advantage of considerable savings on film processing and who are willing to put in some work on the back end.

Here are some things you can expect to correct on your own when you select the basic service:

1. You may have to rotate your images: depending on the orientation you shot and the scanner you selected, you will sometimes have images that are either upside down or on their side:

 2. It is normal for a photographer to have to do some editing to get the color, contrast, and brightness to look the way they want after receiving basic and basic+ scans back from the lab. Basic Scans are NOT straight scans (“straight” meaning a scan with NO corrections done to it). Images that come through the lab are always corrected for color and density in scanner. With our basic service, however, there may be subtle shifts in color or exposure from frame to frame. These subtle shifts are corrected in Premium Scans but are left as is for Basic Scans.

Below is an example of the difference between a straight scan and a Basic Scan:

Below is an example of what a color shift between frames would look like with our Basic Scan service:

3. There may be crops you need to do on your own. Each camera model captures slightly different sized frames, so our scanning machines are optimized for the largest size. For example, Yashica and Hasselblad cameras both capture 6×6 format, but Yashica frames are slightly smaller. If your camera captures one of the smaller sized frames, you’ll sometimes see small slivers of black on the edge of your frame from the way the scanning machine read the image:

4. You may see in-camera dust and/or scratches. Dust that happened in-camera will appear black on your frames from the dust obstructing light passing onto your film. Scratches that happened in camera can range in color and may run through the whole roll, or be in just one frame or section of frames.

5. Our primary goal with Basic scanning is to give clients the maximum usable information in both their highlights and shadows. This allows the client to edit the photo in any way possible. However, we love for clients to communicate their preference to us so we can dial in the scan closer to their desired aesthetic. If you know you want a scene scanned specifically for the highlights or the shadows, please include that in the notes section of your order form so we can scan your images accordingly. Here is a post about the different tonalities we can scan for.

If you would like to forgo editing scans on your own and instead receive images back that are ready to send to your clients, we recommend selecting our premium serviceHere is a link to a roll of film that was scanned first as a basic order, then edited with our premium service to match the client’s preferences so you can see the difference between basic and premium scans.

photos by Fabiola Isabel Photography | Fuji 400H | Contax 645

   

What is pushing?
We covered this in our post about pushing color film, but here’s a quick recap: pushing is something that is done in development and in development only.  It is never something that happens in exposure or scanning and cannot be adjusted after the roll has already been developed. Pushing is done by increasing the temperature of the developer, or by adjusting the time the film is left in the developer. The reason one would push is if you underexposed your film either intentionally or unintentionally at the time of capture. Pushing increases grain and contrast, making the blacks blacker and the whites whiter without affecting the mid-tones of your image. You can push black & white film as many stops as you want, but it’s most common to push between one and three stops. When you receive your scans back, the pushed rolls will be labeled with a plus sign: one push in development will be written as +1, two pushes as +2, etc.

Why push black & white film?
There are many reasons why someone would choose to push their black & white film. Pushing increases contrast, so for some photographers, the aesthetic they achieve when pushing film is reason enough. For most photographers, the choice to push is the deciding factor between capturing an image or not.

Example: you are at a wedding reception shooting Ilford HP5, which has a box speed of 400. Your meter tells you to shoot f2.8 at 1/8. You know you can’t hold your camera steady at 1/8, and your camera won’t let you go below a 2.8 aperture. To get the shot, you rate your film at 3200 ISO instead, and shoot 2.8 at 1/60. After shooting the roll, you mark it with a +3 for the lab to push it three stops in development. In this scenario, you underexposed your roll by three stops by doubling your ISO three times. Keep in mind that the number of stops you underexpose should match the number of stops you push in development: underexposing by one stop would equate one push in development, two stops would be two pushes in development, etc.

Rachel & Noah Ray Photography | Ilford HP5 +3 | rated at 3200 ISO and metered for the shadows | Mamiya 645af

Some things to be aware of:
One of the biggest issues we see when people push for the first time is underexposed frames. This is usually because most photographers that began with digital associate increasing ISO with overexposing, or making the sensor more sensitive to light. Rating film at a higher ISO than box speed is underexposing. Doubling your ISO equates one stop in underexposure.  Something else to keep in mind with pushing is that it is still crucial to light your scene and subject. If you’re shooting at night and there is no light falling on your scene, pushing your image will only make it darker and may result in no shadow detail at all. The photos below were taken in low-light scenarios. Metering incorrectly and/or shooting in a scene where not enough light was falling onto the subject made for underexposed frames and muddy shadows:


If you’re new to pushing black & white film, we recommend starting out with Ilford HP5. Both new and experienced photographers love Ilford HP5’s latitude: it can be pushed one, two, and three stops and still yield good results. Here are some examples of Ilford HP5 pushed:

Amy Rau Photography | Ilford HP5 +1 | rated at 800 ISO and metered for the shadows | Mamiya 645af

Jordan Ison | Ilford HP5 +2 | rated at 1600 ISO and metered for the shadows | Pentax 67

Kelsey Schwenk | Ilford HP5 +3 | rated at 3200 ISO and metered for the mid-tones | Pentax 645nii

As you branch out to different film stocks, keep in mind that pushing increases contrast and grain. Pushing an already contrasty film stock can result in blown highlights and blocked up shadows. Because 35mm film already produces more grain than 120 film, pushing the same film stock in 35mm format and 120 format will yield more grain in the 35mm images than it will in the 120 images.

Lissa Ryan Photography | Kodak Tri-X 400 +2 | rated at 1000 ISO and metered for the shadows | Nikon F6

   

We can’t believe October is almost over! We’ve seen so many creative and stunning images come through the lab this month. Here are a few of our favorites:

Wedding | Shannon Duggan | Fuji400 H | Contax 645

Landscape | James Anderson | Portra 400 desaturated in post | Pentax 67

Travel | Alisa Greig | Portra 160 +2 | Canon AE-1

Black & White | Brooke Whitney Photography | Ilford Delta 3200 | Pentax 645

Still Life | Red Fern Photography | Fuji400 H | Pentax 645n

Editorial | Teneil Kable | Ilford HP5 | Contax 645

Family | J. Harper Photography | Portra 400 +1 | Contax 645

   

Metering with a Hand-held Light Meter

Throughout this post we’ll be talking about metering in daylight balanced light (not studio or flash), so if you’re following along with your own light meter, make sure to set your mode to ambient (the sunny symbol) and not cordless or cord flash (the lightning bolt symbols). If you’re looking into buying a hand held light meter, we recommend buying one that has both bulb and spot metering capabilities. You’ll also want to look for one that has both bulb out and bulb in functions, like the one found here.

What is incident metering?
Incident metering measures the amount of light falling onto your subject by averaging the whole scene and giving you a reading for middle gray (in other words, your meter finds a neutral ground between the whites and the blacks of your scene, giving you a reading for the middle tone). Another term for incident metering is bulb metering.

Bulb Out- This mode takes in more light than bulb in. You’ll get a light reading on 180 degrees surrounding the bulb (including ambient light), so you may catch unwanted light reflections in this mode:

Bulb In- This mode gives you a consistent light reading without catching anything reflective. It also adds a half stop of overexposure. Because film retains detail in the highlights, it’s generally best to err on the side of overexposure with film, so adding an extra half stop of light is a good thing:

How to meter for the shadow of your subject: Switch the mode on your view finder to incident metering. Retract the bulb so that it’s bulb in and hold your meter at 45 degrees toward the ground facing the camera. Then click the button below your view finder to get your reading. This method recreates metering for the shadow under your subject’s chin, which is the darkest part of their face. Adding the 45 degrees toward the camera adds another stop of light:

What is reflective metering?
Reflective metering measures the amount of light reflecting off of your subject. Another term for reflective metering is spot metering.

How to Spot Meter: Switch the mode on your view finder to reflective metering. Look through your view finder and point it at the most important shadow of your subject. Then click the button below your view finder to get your reading. This metering method is great if you want more control over what part of your image you are metering for, or if you’re shooting something other than portraits. For example, if you’re a landscape photographer, spot metering for the shadow of your subject will give you more predictable results than incident metering will.

Metering with your camera’s internal light meter

Cameras with internal light meters typically have three modes to choose from: matrix (or evaluative) metering, center-weighted metering, or spot metering. Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, and Sony all have slightly varying symbols for these modes, so be sure to reference your camera manual to make sure you’re selecting the mode you think you’re selecting. Here’s a brief rundown of how each mode works:

Matrix or Evaluative Metering Mode- If your camera has internal light meter settings, chances are this is its default mode. Matrix, or Evaluative Metering, gathers information from your entire frame to calculate the best exposure for your scene. Keep in mind that this mode gives you less control than the other metering modes do. Sometimes, your camera will get confused by different highlight and shadow detail and calculate the wrong exposure, particularly in backlit scenarios.

Center-Weighted Metering Mode- This mode collects light from the entire scene, with more emphasis on the center of your frame (the idea being that your subject is generally going to be in the middle of your frame). Your camera will measure with more sensitivity at the center of your frame than at the edges.

Spot Metering Mode- In this mode, your camera will take a reading only from the small circle in the middle of your view finder. For best results with this mode, position the center of your frame over the most important shadow in your image to get your meter reading, then reposition your frame to compose your shot.

Other Metering Options

If you’re not ready to invest in a hand-held light meter and/or your camera doesn’t have a reliable internal light meter, there are several smart phone apps that can help you get a reading in a pinch (our team members’ favorite light meter apps are Pocket Light Meter and Lux). No matter what metering method you use, practice is the key to figuring out what metering method works best for you, so we encourage you to try some of these techniques the next time you shoot!

photos by Chloe Mehr | Portra 400 | Pentax 645n

   

Every month we like to look back on what has come through the lab and select a few standout images to share. Here are some favorites from the month of September!

Wedding | Kristin La Voie Photography | Portra 800 | Contax 645

Travel | Rodeo & Co. Photography | Portra 400 | Hasselblad H2

Black & White | Jesse Danford | Ilford HP5 | Hasselblad 500c

Still Life | Karthika Gupta | Portra 400 | Canon 1V

Editorial | Michael Tanji | Ilford HP5 | Graflex 4×5

Landscape | L. Eugene | Ektar 100 | Fujica GS645W

Family | Kaytlyn Eggerding | Ilford HP5 | Pentax 645n