Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Index prints

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I got into the habit of having some quick index prints made for the negatives I develop myself. The quality isn’t particularly good and the size is tiny but at least they are not inverted. At one Euro a pop they’re also reasonably priced and with a one hour processing time they’re pretty close to instant gratification. Usually they’re good enough to do a pre-selection of the photos that are worth making large prints of when I manage to get into a lab again.

Index print for one of the films I developed yesterday

I was particularly curious about this today as I had over-developed one of the films I developed yesterday and wondered how that would turn out in prints. I expected the images lose some of the detail (in the grey scales) by that kind of processing. And judging from the index print they did. However, both the index print of the pushed film and the index print of the normally processed film show that effect. And for the pushed film there seems to be less detail on the print that I can see on the negatives. So I assume their settings aren’t all that perfect. Hmpf.

Another useful thing about the index prints is that they print little numbers along with the images. Which of course is handy for finding a photo quickly. Unfortunately this only happened for one of my films this time around. For the standard Ilford FP4. But it didn’t happen for the (presumably less industrially produced) efke film. To make things even worse the order of the photos was completely wrong. Each of the strips of negatives was kept in order but the direction within that strip was reverses. My first idea was that the girls at the photo shop had put them into the machine the wrong way round, but the directions remained correct on the prints. So I had to come up with a little theory.

closeup of a strip of negatives around photo 1

The first part of that theory is quite obvious from the way the prints look: those prints are generated by a computer which can freely rearrange the image thumnails to make good use of the paper. Usually it seems to do it in a way that ensures the proper order of the photos is preserved. So how does it figure out the order? Hmm, probably using something one of my films has and the other doesn’t… like that bar code at the bottom of each negative between the typical 1, 1A, 2, 2A numbers. A good look at its right half will quickly reveal the photo’s number encoded in binary. So there we go… image numbers are present and the machine knows which of the negatives belongs to which photo.

But why the hell is the machine or its software designed in a way that it reverses the order of the negatives it scans? Surely it would make more sense to at least preserve the order of the negatives on the film, wouldn’t it? If only programmers gave a rat’s ass about not only not crashing when input doesn’t turn out to be as expected but also about failing gracefully!

closeup of a strip of negatives around photo 31

Seeing that they can scan negatives at that shop, I should perhaps ask whether I could just have the files…

March 17, 2006, 0:38

Tagged as bw.

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