Friday, April 10, 2009

Black & White

From capture to final output, there are many pieces to the puzzle for producing the ultimate black-and-white images

Working With A Pro Lab
While many photographers enjoy the control provided by making their own prints, others prefer to spend their time shooting. A good pro lab will give you the freedom to do just that, not to mention that labs also provide services that are difficult, if not impossible, to provide yourself—such as gallery wraps.

Pro labs have experienced staff and the latest equipment, and are able to do volume output with fast turnaround, thanks to optimized workflows. Their printers know what constitutes a good print and can produce the best possible print from your digital file. But “best” is sometimes a matter of personal taste, so it pays to develop a relationship with a good lab so they’re able to provide you with results expertly tailored to your sensibilities.

Just as when making your own prints, it’s important to have a properly calibrated monitor. Color management is the subject of articles and books, but you can get good tips from the lab you choose. For the best compatibility, use a computer monitor with a good industry rating for maintaining Kelvin temperature and gamma. Use a monitor hood for optimum conditions while viewing, and use testing and input between lab and photographer, including submitting test files prior to submitting a large job to the lab.

Each lab’s website provides lots of information as to how to submit images. Some labs will work from RAW images, while others want edited and calibrated TIFF or JPEG files. It behooves you to look over all available information, and call and talk to someone at the lab if you have any questions. You also can e-mail questions to the lab.

Many labs offer prints on a variety of media via a number of processes, some providing greater permanence than others. You’ll want to ask the lab people what processes they use, and why, to ensure that you choose the best process for your needs.


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