My Film Workflow

Always the best email to receive - the scans are complete!

Always the best email to receive - the scans are complete!

Today I want to give you a down-n-dirty idea of my film workflow. This isn't about shooting technique or even developing, as I now farm all of that out (Richard Photo Lab), but about how I get from the shot to the printed, uploaded, or socially shared final product. This will be a bit boring, as my process to to get to my final post hardly involves me, ha ha, just the lab. But would love to see in the comments what you do for post work on your film side.

Once I am ready to get film scanned (be it a couple rolls or a dozen) I send them off to my lab. Typically, I send the rolls out the day after I shoot and have the scans back within 4 days of the shoot. For my example here, I am just going to show a single film image workflow here.

See My Digital Workflow, now live, which is much more involved.

Importing the Scans

Once I receive my scans (who can argue - scan day is the best day), I open the zip and drag and drop the files into Lightroom for organization and straightening. It's just drag and drop onto Lightroom, choose some keywords, and click the import button.

If you see below, I do use the metadata preset to fill in various data information that includes the copyright info, lab, camera used, film used and so on. I will also usually use keywords here per photo, to make them searchable later on.

Lightroom CC - Import

I have honestly never touched color, contrast and so forth on a film image that I downloaded from my lab.  I have used them on my self-developed and scanned images as part of my process, to be clear, but never with anything from the lab.  As you see in the next step, all I do is srtaighten them out.

Crop / Straighten

Once I have the file(s) imported, I straighten them out - this is an extreme case as I didn't look through the viewfinder to frame this (it was held half under water). In Develop mode, I click the 'R' to get into the resize / rotate mode, fix the image, then click the 'R' again to exit this mode.

Lightroom CC - Crop / Straighten


That's it - from there, I really just right-click to export the image in the desired dimensions (depending on print or for web). I do not sharpen or do any post processing to the image. I just put it into my staging folder (RPL-Cropped) for later use. For this example, the image is being exported for web, so I adjust the horizontal edge to 1100px - my standard output size.

Lightroom CC - Export


Next is backup - though looking at this now, it should probably be first after downloading. I may adjust that. But the process is pretty invisible. I only backup the RAW scans from the lab by dragging them into an archive folder on my hard drive, which then automatically syncs with two external drives I have. One of those drives also syncs with the cloud, so once I drag in drop into my archive folder, I almost immediately have 2 local backups and one cloud backup.

With film, my true backup is when the negatives that come back from the lab.  They go into sleeves that are inside of my film binders (by date/year) should I need them in an emergency.

Print & Post

So, I shot all these for a reason, and my true final step is showing off the images somehow. It could be this blog, it could be to my social media, it could be an upload or print for a client. For the digital side, it's a click, so not going there. But for print, I have been using the Richard Photo Lab ROES app or (recently) tried out their darkroom printing. For the ROES, I just work through the menus to select size, paper, border and so forth, and simply drop ship the image(s) to the client.

Richard Photo Lab ROES App

And that's really it, no magic to my film workflow. The lab handles 99% the post production, which frees up a bunch of time for me to concentrate on shooting more film.

Again, I have my digital workflow up live now!