Sonia Jansson | UK Film Lab Spotlight

A little overdue because of how busy you’ve all been keeping us, but now we are very happy to share the work of our latest UK Film Lab Spotlight photographer. Sonia is not only a talented photographer but she is also a very sweet, kind and thoughtful lady. She is far too bashful when it comes to her talent but we think it’s clear from this short study on colour that Sonia is not short on artistic ability and technical skill.

Why do you take photographs?

Well, that’s the 10 millon dollar question, isn’t it? I really can’t be sure…I think it is a need as much as it is part of who I am. A while ago, I felt a sort of epiphany. I had been feeling that there is this a certain thing in every picture I take. Like a personal and concealed message, and when it wasn’t there the way I subconsciously had anticipated it, I would get madly frustrated at myself. It took me a long time to understand the meaning of this. Until I realized that what I was trying to show or tell in most of my framing and documenting is that everybody and everything fits. It just does. You fit. We all do. Perfectly. Framed by what ever surrounds us, on any given second. I imagine that ultimately, by continuously searching and exposing this sense of harmony and belonging around me, I might be searching for my own sense of belonging. That by doing that, I fit too.

Why do you shoot film?

It started with a long time frustration of having been shooting film since I was a child, and never really mastering it. I felt I wanted to learn the real craft behind photography. Of course, I never expected to love it this much. Film and my Hasselblad have taught me a lot about myself and the person I am. When one carefully thinks on how to best use every single frame, that is when ones’ essence starts to reveal itself. Film has been a huge part in finding the links I was missing to fully understand my call. Also, film is full of surprises! A new stock, or a new camera makes all the difference in the results. Every light/stock/camera combo gives different results, and that is just mesmerizing! Something the digital experience will never offer.

Why do you use UK Film Lab?

Bad service is a deal breaker for me, in every part of my business and personal life. UK Film Lab’s service is an experience by itself. I feel appreciated as a custumer, never treated like I was taken for granted. The film I send is treated just the same way. Every frame respected for its uniqueness. I never felt the least neglected by UK Film Lab. Never. Also, it is important to know that the consequent results in developing and scanning are a huge part of learning how to master film photography. This is where UK film hooked me. I finally understood what I was doing right, or wrong. Their feedback following every order, is priceless. They really go out of their way to help me get where I want to be with film. They also spend a good amount of their time on us photographers, never hesitating on being personal and friendly. They are not only extremely competent in what they do, they are some of the most friendly, honest and down to earth people I have ever done business with.

Do you have any tips for your fellow film photographers?

A good lab from day one. A lab that follows your journey with film. Don’t mess around changing lab or scanning yourself. GET A COMPETENT LAB (yes, UK Film Lab will do perfectly). Also, buy FRESH film and stick with one stock for a while, until you understand exposures and their effects (I wish I had done this). Otherwise, film photography could easily turn into a frustrating and expensive experience. Let go of all your fears and doubts. Really. LET GO! Just shoot! Shoot!…and then go shoot some more! There is no getting it right just by reading or overanalyzing. Embrace every mistake just like you embrace every success, they are stepping stones in your journey with the craft of photography. You will never know it all. Just go with it.

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You can check out more of Sonia’s inspirational photography here: http://soniajansson.com

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UKFL Are Hiring!

**WE’RE HIRING!!**

We’re soon going to be expanding our small, very hard-working team here at UK Film Lab! We’re looking for early expressions of interest from photographers who are interested in working with us as we continue to provide some of the finest film processing around.

We’re looking for people who can work with us here at the lab in Chesterfield, taking on scanning and editing duties, as well as getting involved in other general lab activities and day-to-day tasks including social media and marketing. First and foremost we need someone who satisfies the following criteria:

- You’re an active photographer (not necessarily film, but this is preferred and an advantage)
- You have an experienced (if not obsessive) eye for colour
- You can be flexible throughout the course of a year, to meet the demands of working in a pro film lab.

In return we can offer you a friendly, supportive work environment, training in the elements of pro film processing, and personal support in shooting film for your own career. Rate of pay will vary depending on experience, and we are happy to discuss number of working hours.

Interested? Drop us a line at hello@ukfilmlab.com to express an early interest. Any information you want to tell us that you feel makes you an ideal lab buddy…go ahead!

We can’t wait to hear from you!

hiring for blog

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Time to Celebrate…UKFL Turns One!

We can hardly believe it, but we’re coming up to something very special….UK Film Lab turns one year old! Woo hoo!

When we set up UK Film Lab, we did so out of frustration with the lab services that were on offer to us as photographers shooting film in the UK. We knew at the time that there were other photographers just like us – busy sending our film to the US – and so very quickly, we set the wheels in motion to create UK Film Lab.

We set up UK Film Lab to provide world-class developing and scanning services to professional photographers throughout Europe and beyond. As we look back on what we have achieved and what we’re delivering to our many clients in the UK, Europe and across the world as far as Malaysia and South Africa, we think it’s fair to say that we have achieved the world-class quality we originally set out to provide, and of that we’re incredibly proud of ourselves and extremely thankful to all of you who have entrusted your precious film into our hands and who refer your friends and colleagues to do the same.

It sounds like a rosy picture and indeed there are many ‘highs’ for us, but it’s been a rollercoaster of a year full of highs as well as lows. If we make running a lab look easy then we’re pleased because we like the work we deliver to speak for itself, but there are many, many facets to running a successful lab, so many unseen aspects of work, and of course none of it made easy by the fact that labs run on technology and equipment that is no longer mainstream. That said, what we have been working on throughout is building a lab with longevity and a lab that meets the needs of the modern film photographer. To those who remark to you as a photographer, ‘oh, you’ve gone BACK to film?!’, we would argue that in fact the direction is forwards, not back. Photographers shooting film nowadays are placing demands on film like never before, and we are committed as a lab to working within the industry both as a lab and as photographers ourselves. Our functions as UK Film Lab are to deliver world-class quality as well as providing education that supports photographers in shooting film – those photographers (and there are an increasing number) who are trying film for the first time, as well as those who are returning to film or indeed those who never crossed over to digital.

So with all this in mind we’re in the mood for celebration! Over the coming week or so as we approach the big ONE YEAR BIRTHDAY for UK Film Lab, we’re going to be making some announcements of what we’ve lined up to celebrate and say thank you. #filmisthewayforward

UKFL 1st birthday

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UK Film Lab Spotlight | Britt Spring

It’s time for another UK Film Lab Spotlight and today we’re really excited to be sharing the work of Britt Spring with you. Britt’s distinctive style caught our eye quite some time ago and when we looked through the film we’d received from Britt there were so many shoots we could’ve chosen for this feature, but this one really stood out for the incredible and clever use of light. As always we start with a quick Q&A with our Spotlight photographer and Britt has shared some really useful insight and tips, and then below the text are photographs from one of Britt’s shoots. Film: Portra 400 and Ilford XP2 Super.

(1) Why do you take photographs?

Such a simple question but not an easy one to answer. I’m not the kind of person that has their camera with them at all times. There I said it! I don’t walk around seeing photographs in my head. I’ll meet someone and get inspired. People inspire me. My mind will start ticking over about where to photograph them in what setting and what mood I want it. The buzz I get from meeting someone for the first time, making a connection with them, getting them excited about the process, getting them to trust me, enough to agreeing to sit on the wet ground in the cold in the wind & still get a beautiful image …. wow what a compliment.

(2) Why do you shoot film?

When I fell in love with photography it was the medium I learnt on so I didn’t think about the fact it was film, it just was what was available at the time. Now of course having experienced both forms I appreciate film and its quality so much more. Film is authentic, it’s colourful, it’s got depth. In the right light it can look like a painting. At heart I have always been a purist and I identify with the mindset of shooting in camera and editing as little as possible. Probably why I struggled for some time with the editing process of digital, I could never get it quite right no matter how little or how much I tweaked those photos. I really love the fact that when that email comes through from UK Film Lab most of the hard work has been done and the only editing I’ll have to do is a tweak here and there due to personal taste. I have a lot more time to drink coffee and skype my friends these days!

(3) Why do you use UK Film Lab?

I wish I had found Christian & Erica sooner, I had been floundering for about a year trying one lab after the other. Disappointed and very broke…. I appreciate the level of care they take in processing my film, giving feedback and their friendly approach. They have transformed my business and my goals into a reality. As cheesy as it sounds it’s true. Without a good lab your pictures will never look amazing. Because of Christian & Erica I shot my first job 100% on film 2 weeks ago…. something I have been wanting to do for a long long time.

(4) Do you have any tips for your fellow film photographers?

If you are starting out and want to add film into your portfolio I would suggest buying a reasonably priced film camera body (preferably the same type as the digital camera you use now so you don’t need to buy extra lenses) read that manual back to front and get to grips with how to use it. Then take it to every single job and shoot a roll every time. Adding more rolls as you feel more comfortable with the process. If you can afford it, attend a workshop/mentoring session with people you identify with & love their style. You will be well on your way to making dreamy images with the help of UK Film Lab. I promise.

 

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Film Stock and Exposure Comparisons | Kodak Portra and Fuji

Every film photographer we know loves a bit of film stock comparison…at UK Film Lab we certainly do!

This is an exciting little project that we thought would help to answer some of the most commonly asked questions of film photographers…What’s the difference between the film stocks? And what difference does changing my exposure make?  Our overall objective was to help photographers see the benefit of exposing their images well and avoiding underexposure, and to help give you a feel for the look of the different film stocks.

Those with a passion for the technical detail might first like to skip straight to the bottom of this post before reviewing the images, where you’ll find all of the information about how we exposed, shot, scanned and edited these images, along with our recommendations for getting the very best results from your film.  These images were shot in pretty ideal light and the results definitely can’t be generalised across all lighting scenarios but it’s a great place to start!

In each case you can click on the image to see a full size version. We highly recommend viewing these images from around 3 feet / 1 metre away…the (sometimes subtle) differences are more apparent this way.

So first up, we’ve selected what we would consider an optimum exposure for this type of light (+2) and shot the following film stocks: Fuji 400H, Portra 160, Portra 400 & Portra 800:UK Film Lab Kodak Portra and Fuji 400H film stock comparisons

This is a direct side by side comparison of Fuji 400H and Portra 400, the two colour films we most frequently handle at UK Film Lab:
UK Film Lab Kodak Portra 400 and Fuji 400H film stock comparisons

This next shot is a great way to see the hugely important role that good exposure plays in the final look of your images. Here we have Fuji 400H shot at 2 stops under box speed, and 2 stops over box speed:
UK Film Lab Fuji 400H under and over-exposed

We thought you might also like to see how each of the film stocks in our experiment, react to different exposures.  In each case we shot at -2 stops, box speed, +2 stops and +4 stops.

Fuji 400H:
UK Film Lab Fuji 400H exposure comparisons

Portra 160:
UK Film Lab Kodak Portra 160 exposure comparisons

Portra 400:
UK Film Lab Kodak Portra 400 exposure comparisons

Portra 800:
UK Film Lab Kodak Portra 800 exposure comparisons

And for the grand finale, ultra film geek experience…we shot a few other exposures too, ranging from 3 under to 4 over, for Fuji 400H, Portra 160, Portra 400 and Portra 800. Even in the large version the very fine detail won’t be visible but we thought it was useful to give you a general feel for the changes at different exposures for each film stock:
UK Film Lab Kodak Portra and Fuji film stock and exposure comparisons

So, how did we do it?

We wanted the comparison to be as direct as possible (without getting into full blown controlled experiment territory!) so we shot on a fairly settled weather day and chose a softly shaded area, setting the Contax up on a tripod.  Where possible we kept our aperture at 2.8 although for the more underexposed shots we had to narrow this.  We spot metered using an external light meter.

We didn’t scan and edit the images to try to match the film stocks to each other…rather we aimed to keep a natural look in keeping with the nature of the light (soft shade naturally gives a reasonably contrasty look, with bright colours in well exposed images) and the film stock.  Our main aim was to correct the images as necessary in the scan and edit to create a neutral and pleasing skin tone.

The lowdown on underexposure

As you’ll see, although the stocks all handle different exposure levels differently, across the board at the more significant levels of underexposure it really becomes impossible to create a natural and pleasing look.  Other detrimental effects of underexposure include a loss of shadow detail, increased grain and a ‘flatter’ look. These lighting conditions are pretty much ideal, and the detrimental effects of underexposure in less than ideal light would be much worse than this.  Another significant disadvantage of underexposing your images is that the results become more variable.  Underexposure affects the different colour layers and tonal areas of the film differently and in an unpredictable way, and even within the same scene it becomes impossible to get a consistent ‘look’ across a set of images.

Mixing exposures across your scene will also result in differences in your final image, and so despite the good latitude of film in good light, accurate and consistent metering is still highly desirable in terms of your final results.

The lowdown on overexposure

Additional exposure will create a denser negative.  This gives us more ‘information’ to work with in the scanning process at the lab, and allows room for more colour correction if required. Even at 4 stops over no highlight detail was lost in these images but in some cases there was a slight colour and/or contrast shift.  At higher exposures (generally +3 and +4) the magenta tone in the highlights increased across the film stocks and required more correction.  With this type of light and backdrop this hasn’t posed much of a problem, but in a different scene the need to remove excess magenta could cause unwanted colour shifts that adversely affect the result of your image.  And in full direct sun for example, you would definitely risk losing detail at the top end of the exposure range.

In this type of lighting our general recommendation would be for 2 stops of overexposure for optimum results.

These are all excellent quality pro films that when exposed and handled correctly by the photographer and lab, give excellent results.  All images were shot by Christian with Erica modelling (yes, I have a very spooky knack for standing and smiling in exactly the same way over 32 shots!) and developed, scanned & edited back at UK Film Lab.

 

 

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