Is this a processing error?

EstherC

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Hi, this is my second roll of B&W film taken on Ilford HP5. I don't know how to develop so I send it to a local lab to process and print. One of the prints shows a faint light gray circle located where the blue sky is (approx. center of the picture, right above the roof). It's on the scanned image they make too. I don't see the same spot on any other photos of the roll but there are only a couple others with the sky as background. The rest are mostly buildings and people which may make it difficult to see the spot. This was the only b&w film i took on the trip. I also shot four rolls of color film, with the same lens and camera, and I didn't see anything unusual on the prints.

I want to rule out this is something to do with my camera or my lens. Can someone please tell me if this looks like a processing error? Any comments on this are greatly appreciated.

9308817832_9ae47a4312_b.jpg
 

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compur

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Is it on the negative or just the print?
 

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I see distinct pattern noise in the picture, especially in the sky. That makes me think that the entire lab is "suspect". The dark circle looks like a very small, out of focus dust dust speck, and combined with the pattern noise, make me think the lab processes the film, then digitally scans the film, and that their scanner is both low quality, and in need of a cleaning. "Most" labs today no longer wet-process film...it's scanned then printed "digitally", as the saying goes.
 
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EstherC

EstherC

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Is it on the negative or just the print?

Not sure. I see it on the print and scanned image. Don't have a magnifier to inspect the negative. I am new to the film thing and don't want to dirty the negative accidentally.
 
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EstherC

EstherC

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I see distinct pattern noise in the picture, especially in the sky. That makes me think that the entire lab is "suspect". The dark circle looks like a very small, out of focus dust dust speck, and combined with the pattern noise, make me think the lab processes the film, then digitally scans the film, and that their scanner is both low quality, and in need of a cleaning. "Most" labs today no longer wet-process film...it's scanned then printed "digitally", as the saying goes.

What you said does make sense. So what you are saying is that most of labs today don't really print directly from negatives anymore but scan them to the computer and print regardless whether a customer requests scanned files? I am so naively thinking they are still using the old way to process color film. If that's true, other than camera, lens, and film developing, scanning can also be one factor contributing to the dust specs and irregularities on a picture. If the spot in my picture is indeed due to a dust spec on a scanner, it would not be on the negative. An inspection of the negative should clarify this, correct?
 

compur

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Film still has to be chemically processed to produce an image for scanning.
 
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Film still has to be chemically processed to produce an image for scanning.

agreed. that's why the spot could have been from either my lens, the chemical process, or scanning. I am hoping to rule out it's a dust spec on my lens.
 
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EstherC

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Where was it sent ? are you in the UK if so there are lots of good labs to send it to
no, not UK.... there are only a couple places left in where I live that still do film. I may need to look into mailing my film somewhere else.
 

timor

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Where was it sent ? are you in the UK if so there are lots of good labs to send it to
no, not UK.... there are only a couple places left in where I live that still do film. I may need to look into mailing my film somewhere else.
Labs, labs...for them we are small potatoes... Go the whole 9 yards and learn developing, beginning is easy, B&H have all you will need or use Craigslist if you don't mind used stuff. Scanner is more expensive but is worth it, especially if you venture into medium format film photography. Once you learn it you will laugh from those lab guys, who often aren't even photographers.
 
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EstherC

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Where was it sent ? are you in the UK if so there are lots of good labs to send it to
no, not UK.... there are only a couple places left in where I live that still do film. I may need to look into mailing my film somewhere else.
Labs, labs...for them we are small potatoes... Go the whole 9 yards and learn developing, beginning is easy, B&H have all you will need or use Craigslist if you don't mind used stuff. Scanner is more expensive but is worth it, especially if you venture into medium format film photography. Once you learn it you will laugh from those lab guys, who often aren't even photographers.
Thanks for the suggestions. I begin to realize how important a role a photo lab plays. Taking a picture is only a part of it. At this point in time, however, I don't think I am going to get into setting up a darkroom due to some practical difficulties: not really a spare place at home to set it up, three children under age 7, don't want to risk them getting in contact with all chemicals. I'll either keep searching for a good lab to work with or simply take the compromises. C'est la vie.
 

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Just try to hold the strip of negatives by the edges (along where the sprocket holes are) so you don't touch the emulsion if you take them out of the clear plastic sleeve (you might not need to, depends on if you can see it or not). If you hold it up towards a window or a lamp and look thru it you should be able to see if there's a dust spot. That actually can happen to the film in the drying process; doing darkroom work I'd usually dust the negatives using a Beseler dust gun before putting them in the enlarger (which is not as impressive as it sounds, it's a squirt can but you need to use the right kind of compressed squirty stuff and it's not a good idea to blow on them :cokespit:).
Or it could have happened when it was scanned... The lab should be able to dust the negs if needed (don't try it yourself if you don't have the necessary materials or know how to use them) and/or rescan.

If everything else turned out OK it could just be a fluke bit of dust; if you try the lab again and aren't happy with the results you could consider doing your own developing or doing mail order, or some of both. I've done B&W darkroom but send out film - most places have options of just getting film processed, and scanned, or prints made, etc.

Nice picture by the way.
 

gsgary

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Where was it sent ? are you in the UK if so there are lots of good labs to send it to
no, not UK.... there are only a couple places left in where I live that still do film. I may need to look into mailing my film somewhere else.

Why not do it yourself ?
 

timor

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no, not UK.... there are only a couple places left in where I live that still do film. I may need to look into mailing my film somewhere else.
Labs, labs...for them we are small potatoes... Go the whole 9 yards and learn developing, beginning is easy, B&H have all you will need or use Craigslist if you don't mind used stuff. Scanner is more expensive but is worth it, especially if you venture into medium format film photography. Once you learn it you will laugh from those lab guys, who often aren't even photographers.
Thanks for the suggestions. I begin to realize how important a role a photo lab plays. Taking a picture is only a part of it. At this point in time, however, I don't think I am going to get into setting up a darkroom due to some practical difficulties: not really a spare place at home to set it up, three children under age 7, don't want to risk them getting in contact with all chemicals. I'll either keep searching for a good lab to work with or simply take the compromises. C'est la vie.
Nothing new. For film development you don't need a darkroom (common misconception ), I do it in the laundry room. As chemicals go you don't need my arsenal, for starters 2 sq.ft. is enough. By not doing it yourself you will gain only frustration, problem with the labs is that all film specialists are gone. Send your film to me and I will develop it in instant coffee and it will be better, than most of the labs today. :lol:
 

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