Monday, August 14, 2006

Chemical Film

I wanted to document the state of The Loft before I did anything infrastructural to it. My good digital camera is in Boston. So I went down to the Rite Aid to buy a disposable chemical camera. And found out that 80% of the disposable cameras had been switched to APS film -- which is inferior to 35 mm -- and that all but one brand was using ISO 800 film, which is usually pretty dismal film.

I found one cam using Fuji ISO 400 film, and did my stuff, before and after the Flor project. Then I went down to the Rite Aid to have it developed, and, knowing that I would mostly want to use the results digitally anyway, asked to have it put on Picture CD. Then I found out why you always got a set of prints with that: the way Rite Aid fills that request is by making a set of prints and passing the prints through a scanner. I almost went for it, but their machine was on the fritz, so I passed.

A week later I am at the Target on La Brea, and I go to their photo-center. They do not seem to make you always buy a set of prints with a Picture CD, and their Machine looks Bigger, so I am hoping that the result I walked away with an hour later, just a CD and index print and the negs, was made by directly auto-scanning the negs onto the CD.

Today I put the CD in the machine at work, and instantly remembered why I found my transition in the early nineties from chemical to digital so painful: the scans are totally grainy. Just pushing brightness and contrast do nothing helpful, I have to despeckle and de-noise and what not. I used to do this forever and over and over when I got my first film scanner off eBay -- all researched and compared and made sure it was SCSI bus scanner for the extra special SCSI-based PC we had custom built in '96 -- when you could still get bargains on eBay. I got some good results our of that, but boy was it tedious, and I have completely forgotten how to do that.

I need a digital print manager professional or something. Or maybe I just shot crappy under-exposed pics.