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What's this on my scans? (Walgreens)

Tara D , Jul 17, 2011; 07:33 p.m.

So, I just got back a roll of Fuji Superia Reala 100 from Walgreens (where I always process and print my photos) and found these odd... spots on a couple of my photos. I've already been unhappy with Walgreens, but this is making me... very not happy. You can only see them in photos areas of dark tones. But not all of them. They look like water droplets, but not like the usual water spots issue with film processing. (I don't think. I've just been researching a little, and really have no idea what I'm talking about.) They also seem to be in similar places... is it a scanner problem? While I'm at it, is all that noise underexposure or a processing issue?
Any idea what they are? I'm not ready to develop color film on my own yet (scares me a bit) but this is not giving me a lot of faith in my one-hour-photo place. Especially since I payed $20 for these prints and a CD.
Anyway, here are some examples:

We'll leave the light on for you
Twins
And another annoyance: very visible residue line on this one:
Into the sun
Thanks for your help,
Tara

Responses

Patrick Wells , Jul 17, 2011; 08:15 p.m.

I am not sure what the spots are. I would be guessing. I am sorry you are having trouble with Walgreens processing. You may want to try a different store. Walgreen's does my processing and I have not had any problems with the job they do. My problems are generally with the photographer. :)

Greg Miller , Jul 17, 2011; 08:31 p.m.

I suspect it is something on the scanner sensor and that they are using a high speed scanner that works more like a camera than a scanner. That's not to say it can't do a decent job. You need to check your negs just to be eliminate that it isn't something happening in the camera. It doesn't look like it but because it is in the same spot in every picture it could possibly be something on the rear element of your lens. Doubt it though...doesn't look right for that. It has nothing to do with the processing because it is frame specific and there is nothing in a film processor that would do that.

I'd take it back and show it too them. Stuff like this can happen even at the best of labs. If they brush you off then don't go back.

The noise you are seeing is because of your film being underexposed. This is normal with underexposed film.

James c , Jul 18, 2011; 03:13 p.m.

First take a look at the negatives themselves. Look for any evidence of what you see on the print or CD, to be present on the negative.
The spots we see are not noise from underexposure. If there is nothing on the negative it is a scan issue. If it is on the negative it is most likely a developing issue.
I have used Walgeens once on some Fuji color negative film that was needed at there 1 hour service. Terrible service photo attendant was a snot, negatives had streaks all down them along with scratches. As other response posted it probably depends on what walgreens you go to get good service. Myself I am all done with them no matter what hurry I may be in.

Tara D , Jul 18, 2011; 05:43 p.m.

I don't see anything on the negatives, but I'm only looking with my naked eye. And yes, I know these dots have nothing to do with noise or underexposure. That was a separate question.
Here's another photo from the same Walgreens about a month ago, but a different photographer, different camera, etc. Still think this is dust on the scanner sensor?
R1-04117-0003_0001
I just think it's weird that it's just showing up on these darker images. Don't get it.

James c , Jul 18, 2011; 07:28 p.m.

Just checked my negatives that I thought were sent to Walgreens to see if they had the same problems that you are having. Turns out it was a CVS not Walgreen’s that made me unhappy. Sorry about that.
The spots do seem to be in the same place in the top two photos and there is the line in the third photo. Now with that line, one has to wonder if there is a problem with the processing machine itself. Maybe a beat up roller that’s leaving marks on the negative. More likely that the processing machine is not properly cleaned and there is chemical residue left on the rollers. Leaving spot areas on negative underdeveloped sowing up more in a dark area. I am not familiar with film processing machines but I can make a safe bet that Walgreen’s does not hand squeegee you’re film.
It would defiantly help to know for sure if these spots and line are in the negative. A loupe or at least a magnifying glass might help see if these marks are indeed embedded in you’re negative. I’m not saying its not there scanner just trying to rule out possible causes.
On the bright side the other photo you posted from the same Walgreens defiantly has identical marks on the photo. Ruling out any problems with you’re camera or lens

Tara D , Jul 19, 2011; 07:04 p.m.

Well, thanks for your input. I posted this on a Flickr group as well one person suggested it was indentations from the pressure plate behind the film. So. Who knows.

Prasoon Joshi , Jul 25, 2011; 02:13 a.m.

Hello Tara,
I shoot slide film and have also shot negatives in the past few years that I have been doing photography. Like yourself, I used to get my negatives scanned at the one hour places. I used to suffer from similar issues. I have since, switched to photo labs such as Dwayne's for developing and have just recently began scanning negative film and slide myself. I think the issue that you are suffering from is scanner noise. It can come from all different sources and is especially pronounced in the shadow regions. If you have access to a scanner and good quality software (such as SilverFast) try to scan your negative/slides and you will have the option of reducing noise. There are a few sources of scanner noise such as noise in the scanner CCD pixels and scanner showing the grain of the film to name a few. There is also the issue of scanning at the right resolution, but then you get into the details of the entire scanning process. I am not certain if your problem can be corrected in Photoshop but it is worth a shot. The best advice I can give you is to try to scan yourself and use a good quality software that allows control over the process. It will have it's own learning curve, but in the end it will be worth it.

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