Our Process


Shipping Film

Shipping film sounds like an easy process, and it is, but there are a few important steps to take to ensure your film makes it here safe and sound!

Place Your Film and Order Form in a Zip-Lock Bag Liquids can be surprisingly harmful to unprocessed film. A plastic zip-close bag gives added peace of mind and protects your investment. 

*Pro tip: Double check for any unexposed rolls, you’d be surprised how many we see come in!

Use a Box with Cushioning (Seriously) We have seen more than one roll of film lost into the postal abyss because it was sent in a flimsy envelope. Don't be that person. A box with plenty of cushioning (combined with a zip-lock bag and tracking number) is a simple way to ensure your film's safe journey. We do not recommend using First Class mail.

*Pro tip: USPS Priority Mail boxes are FREE!

Get a Tracking Number Your film is precious cargo! We highly recommend you send it to us via a trackable method to ensure it arrives safely.

*Pro tip: Save time and money with a USPS Click-N-Ship account. 

When Your Film Arrives

Your film has made it to the lab safe and sound, woohoo!

Include an order form to make sure your film is processed correctly and as accurately as possible. Doing so helps us get your scans to you faster and ensures your film is processed as requested! Order forms also let us know: 

  • How many rolls do you have?
  • Color or B+W.
  • Scan size and type.
    • Normal Scans for printing up to 20x24”
    • Large Scans for printing beyond 20x24”
  • Film return instructions.
  • Scanner to use.
  • Shoot name.
  • Special instructions.

*Pro tip: When shooting Delta 3200, make sure to let us know what you rated it at and how you would like it developed.

Developing

Your roll count is correct and we now know exactly how to develop each roll. Now, it’s time to turn your exposed film into beautiful negatives! Here is a quick breakdown of the chemical reactions that happen in the darkroom:

C-41

  • Developer The first and most important chemical in the developing process is the Developer itself. Developer is the chemical that forms the image, turning your exposed film into a negative.
    • How does it work? “During the development step of C-41 [color] film processing, an oxidized developer reacts to the color layers of the film emulsion to result in the formation of dyes while the silver halides are concurrently being transformed to silver metal.” [Film Processing by FUJIFILM (www.ishootfujifilm.com)]

      Bleach After the initial development, the film enters a bleach solution that is used to convert the developed silver image into silver halides. This prepares the silver to be soluble in the fixer.

    • Rinse A quick wash through the water.
    • Fixer Removes all the unactivated silver particles, so the film is no longer sensitive to light.
    • Final Rinse A quick wash in water clears your film of any remaining compounds.
    • Dryer Film is dried.

B+W

  • Developer Like in C-41, the first step in the developing process is the Developer itself. Developer is the chemical that forms the image, turning your exposed film into a negative.
    • How does it work? During the development of B+W, the developer reacts “with the film's emulsion, light-sensitive crystals, converting them to black, metallic silver. The greater the exposure, the denser the concentration of developed silver.” (Black & White Photography: A Basic Manual by Henry Horenstein)
  • Stop Bath Developer continues to develop film until it is neutralized. This is where Stop Bath comes in. It is just as important to stop the chemical reaction of the developer as it is to start it! Stop Bath prevents the developer from reacting to your film’s emulsion—preparing your film for the next step.
  • Fixer Removes all the unactivated silver particles, so the film is no longer sensitive to light.
  • Rinse A quick wash through the water.
  • Hypo Clear Now that your film has been developed and its final image preserved, any leftover chemical residue is removed.
  • Rinse A quick wash through the water.
  • Photo Flo Coating your film in a wetting agent like Photo Flo will help protect it as it enters the dryer, reducing spots, watermarks and drips.
  • Dryer The film is dried.

Push/Pull Processing

Push/Pull processing refers to the amount of time film is left in the developer, controlling the amount of chemical reaction that can occur with the film’s emulsion, which controls your negative’s density. 

Push/Pull processing allows us to, in a sense, change the film’s sensitivity rating, or ISO, after shooting. This isn’t exactly what is happening, however, we find it helpful to think of in this way. If you only had 400 ISO film but are losing light quickly, you could shoot the entire roll as though it were 800 ISO and then have it pushed 1 stop (+1) in processing. The Push will generate more contrast, saturation and increase the grain structure, but it will also compensate for the underexposure that takes place when rating 400 ISO film at 800 ISO. 

Pull processing is where the film is in the developer for a relatively shorter period of time to compensate for excessive overexposure. Due to the film’s wide exposure latitude, pull processing is very rare. If you find yourself in a pickle where your film is 3 or more stops overexposed, please give us a call first to chat! 

Push/Pull processing is available in a pinch if you have no other option, but it shouldn’t be your first choice. Be sure to clearly label the rolls in need of a push or pull and by how many stops when you send in your film.

Exposure Reference Sheets

Exposure Reference Sheets are made directly after your film is developed. These sheets are compiled of roughly 900 frames makeing them better and easier to read than ever before. Exposure Reference Sheets provide a thumbnail of each frame, allowing you to clearly and easily see how you exposed your film. No more waiting 2+ weeks to study your negatives—all the feedback you need is waiting for you in your inbox. Pretty cool, huh?

Exposure Reference Sheets show a variety of information from exposures to camera issues. The exposure of each frame can be seen in the level of density. Frames that appear dark represent underexposure, while frames that appear light represent overexposure, similar to how you would view your digital images. To help you further understand your exposures, refer to the exposure data (if your camera imprints it).  

The next thing to look for is any camera issues, advancement issues, light leaks, etc. Learn from your shooting and be aware of any camera issues before your next shoot by utilizing this handy tool.

Scanning

Your film has been turned into beautiful negatives that are now ready to be scanned into digital files! This is where we apply your artistic vision manually, frame by frame.

At PhotoVision, we have a fleet of Frontier SP3000s and Noritsu S-1800s ready to rock ‘n’ roll. Although these scanners have some differences, the workflow is very similar. 

Your film is loaded roll-by-roll into the scanner. Beneath your film is a lightbox that projects the right amount of light and color (determined by your Scanning Technician and based off your references) through your negative to be read by the scanner’s sensor above. This process creates a digital scan. 

But how do we make sure the right amount of light and the correct color combinations are made for each frame? Preference Images**! During the scanning process, we have your Preference Images up on the screen and adjust the brightness and coloring frame-by-frame to match your vision. 

**Preference Images: 3–5 frames that best represent your style in terms of color, density and contrast. 

*Pro Tip: If you number your rolls, they will be scanned chronologically, leading to more consistent scans and saving you time organizing images in post! 

Color Check

Now that all of your film has been cut and Exposure Reference Sheets are made, each and every frame is sent through Color Check. Color Check is where we make small adjustments to the coloring and density of your scans. This step is designed to keep your scans consistent from one frame to the next and allows us to get even closer to matching your vision.

Final Check

Your order has made it to the final stage before upload— Final Check. In Final Check, we take one last look through each and every frame, looking for any red flags that may have occurred while your film was in lab—including dust, scanner spots, movement, etc. But we are also looking for anything that could have happened prior to your film arriving in lab—scratches, light leaks, water damage, etc. This allows us to spot any issues you may be having with your camera, so we can let you know right away!  

After we correct any issues and ensure every frame has been scanned, it’s time for your beautiful scans to be uploaded to Box.com, a simple file sharing system, and sent directly to your inbox! Woot-woot!

Printing

If you have ordered prints at the time of scanning (psst—we recommend everyone does this!) your scans are sent over to our printer immediately after your scans are uploaded. 

Our prints aren’t your typical prints. They are made through a true, photographic wet process with light-sensitive Fujicolor Crystal Archive Supreme photo paper. This paper comes with a luscious thickness you have to see (and feel) to believe with rich colors that bring your images to life.

Prints are made and shipped 1-2 business days after your scans have been uploaded, meaning you could have prints to your clients the same day they receive their scans. Talk about speedy service!