Hamilton Color Lab

The Professional's Choice for digitial imaging


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Why Do My Printed Photos Look Different From My Computer Screen?

It happened again, you bought an expensive camera, spent hours editing your photos in your favorite photo editing software, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gimp and you send them to your favorite printing lab. (Hopefully it’s Hamilton Color Lab, but if it’s not we forgive you.)

But, you get them back and the color is all wrong and not what you expected.  The skin tones are off, they are too yellow, too blue, too dark. What went wrong? This isn’t supposed to happen.

Correcting white balance in camera

Or maybe you’re a professional photographer and you just uploaded your finished senior portraits to a photo gallery. You then you go over to your clients house to show them their images on their computer. ARGHH!! They don’t look anything like your screen, and your client thinks her daughter/son looks too yellow and all washed out.

We hear this at Hamilton Color on a regular basis, it’s not unusual and even professional photographers have this challenge. The problem is in the computer monitor and not your eye. Manufactures want computer monitor displays  to look shiny, flashy, bright and snappy right out of the box.

Without color calibration you risk over saturating, under exposing, editing too warm or too blue. Your photos may look dull, without pop and contrast.

Why Do My Photos Look Different?

Can you see all the various shades of white in the image below? On a perfectly calibrated monitor you can distinguish a faint border between the 254 box and the center. If your monitor is too bright, or your room too bright chances are you con’t tell the difference. You can also view shades of black to determine your ability to see shadows.

Color Calibrating your moniter

Can you see the border line between 254 and the center?

Steps to Achieve Accurate Screen Color & Density

1. Brightness of monitor: This is the most common issue we encounter. If your computer is in a room with lots of light or windows you might have your monitor brightness turned up to make it easier to read text on the screen. Adjust in a room with subdued indirect lighting

2. Color of Light Hitting Screen: Does your room have a window, a sky light, no windows, incandescent lighting, tungsten, fluorescent? All of these play a factor on the type of lighting hitting your screen which will affect not only the tonal range, but also contrast.

3. Color Calibrate Monitor: there are many ways to calibrate your monitor, some are faster, some easier, some more expensive, and some more accurate. It’s not just about color, but also gamma reading, in the photography world, contrast.

4. In Camera White Balance: Save time in post production! Sometimes the best type of editing is getting it right in the camera from the start. The photographic environment and the available lighting affects how the camera views color.  Some lighting, such as the “golden hour” is highly desirable, but the yellow cast from a gymnasium floor or inside a church is not.

Use a gray card for your photo shoot. In a pinch you can use a white piece of paper,  index card, or a poster board. But a WhiBal card is a known quality. We all know white is not white.

Don’t Forget, Shoot in RAW- regardless of your camera settings, if you do mess up your settings having the RAW files give you the flexibility to fix the white balance during the editing process.

5. ICC profile (Soft proofing): Each photo printing lab prints on different paper with a different printing process. Kodak paper has a tendency to print on the blue side and Fuji paper a little warmer. Ask your lab for an ICC profile, and when you upload note your files have already been soft proofed.

6. sRGB vs Adobe profile: sRGB is the standard in the photographic world in printing and the standard color space on the internet. Adobe RGB 1998 was created by Adobe for use in CMYK printers. It only uses approximately 50% of the color space and therefore your colors will come out dull and lifeless.

7. Choose a Quality Printing Lab: This goes without saying. Cheap prices normally use cheap printing processes, inks, dyes, paper, and chemicals. If you want quality prints do NOT use Snapfish. The same is true of one hour printing services. Many photo processors are going to  “dry ink” printing which is just a step above home printing.


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Free Valentines Card Template

Valentines Day is not just for lovers and romance, but a time to remember everyone you love in your life and those who love you. New parents like to be reminded about not only how much they love their children but also how much their children love them back. So Dad, if you want to score points on Valentines Day give your wife a card from her little girl or boy.  Or, Mom, do the same for Dad.

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Enlarging Old Photographs

Many times customers come into the photo lab with a very small, old photograph and would like us to scan and print a large portrait. Sometimes this is possible, it very much depends on the quality of the original photo.

Portrait photographs from the early 1900′s were taken with very high quality cameras and the result was extremely high quality photography. Photographers took a great deal of time and care to assure their photographs were in focus, sharp and clear with proper lighting. Nothing like today where most people just point a phone at someone and say “Smile”

Below was a project which originated from a 1 1/2″ photo proof from 1918 and resulted in a large 20×24″ enlargement.

Early 1900's Vintage portrait

Scanner quality is key in reproducing large prints from small photographs, we use only professional scanners with high dmax values to capture all the information and detail, without noise or distortion. Detail in the original photo needs to exist first.

Detail in vintage photo scan

As you can see the detail in the eye above is phenomenal, detail right down to the eyelashes which couldn’t be seen in the original small contact proof print. The original is about  the size of my thumb and in very good condition. Some photo editing and Photoshop work was needed on the face to erase minor smudges, but for the most part it was a very clean photo.

For scanning and restoration of your old vintage photos or create better than original prints, from negatives, or slides bring them to Hamilton Color Lab at 120th & I Street in Omaha, NE.


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Happy Birthday Warren Buffet

Happy Birthday Warren Buffet! Since today is his 83rd birthday, I thought it appropriate to post an art reproduction example we did for the artist  Dave Phillips and his wonderful pencil/graphite portrait of the Oracle of Omaha.

Artwork by Dave Phillips, reproduction and giclee printing by Hamilton Color Lab

Artwork by Dave Phillips, reproduction and giclee printing by Hamilton Color Lab

Dave Phillips is an local Omaha artist who envisioned a series of portraits of great leaders in various industries: business, music, sports etc. The past few years have not been kind to Dave and an fireman’s accident left him unable to work.

Through friends and colleagues word got to Warren about this exceptional portrait and after seeing the original  Mr. Buffet gave Dave permission to reproduce and sell quality reproductions. This gave Dave the endorsement needed to continue with his sponsors, one of which was Hamilton Color Lab, to proceed with the digital capture and giclee prints.

The journey of a new artist when they bring Hamilton Color Lab their first piece of art to reproduce is special and this was no exception. So much time, in this case hundreds of hours, goes into a piece of art that it’s almost like handing over a child to a new caregiver with the hope they will take care of your child as much as you would.

Then there is the worry and anticipation of seeing the reproduction. Will is represent your art in the best way possible? Will the detail and color be captured accurately and faithfully represent the original? Will a customer recognize the reproduction as a copy, or will it almost pass as an original?

Obviously each piece of art is different, and how a reproduction will translate to different papers is a unique depending on the medium. In the case of the Warren Buffet reproduction the original was created with graphite pencil on water color paper. The choice to print the reproductions on Velvet Cotton Rag paper using  the Giclee process on our Epson 9900  was obvious.

The result was nothing more than amazing. The digital capture using our special flat camera lens was able to pick up the finest detail strokes, maintain sharpness corner to corner without any lens distortion. Dave Phillips was hard pressed to tell the difference between his original piece of art and the reproductions.

Warren Buffet was impressed enough with the results he signed six copies and gave his blessing for this representation of him to be sold by the artist. Dave Phillips was appreciative enough for our work that he signed the first copy and gave it to us and it now hangs in our lobby,  not only an example of the quality of our art digital captures and printing capabilities, but to give recognition to an Omaha native who has brought attention to our great city of Omaha.

On this day, August 30th, we say Happy Birthday Warren Buffet.


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A New Relationship with the JJ Audubon Museum

During the summer of 2013, the John James Audubon museum in Henderson, Kentucky invited the owner of Hamilton Color Lab, Dave Hamilton, to the museum to digitally capture and reproduce all the original works of JJ Audubon. This is just the start of  what is anticipated as a long and endearing partnership. JJ Audubon is most know for his Birds of America Series consisting of 435 life size prints of over 700 North American birds, (the Red Shouldered Hawk below is part of the series) however there are several pieces of art in his personal collection which have never been reproduced or printed.

Audubon Red Shouldered Hawk

JJ Audubon: Red Shouldered Hawk

While there have been various fine art reproductions of the Double Elephant Folio series the museum always thought improvements could still be made to not only return the art to original luster and vibrancy, but make prints available for sale to the public at an affordable price. Although Dave has quite a reputation in the art reproduction industry for doing phenomenal work, it is not where this story began.

Our story into the world of JJ Audubon begins with a customer, fellow photographer, and good friend, Tom Wandel.  In the fall of 2012, Tom Wandell traveled the Eastern United States on a photography tour. His mission, through his Indelible Images organization, is to assist wildlife and other conservation organizations with professional photographs and images for use in their educational and outreach efforts.

After meeting with the curator and staff Tom was inspired and proposed an art reproduction and restoration project of not only the DE Bird Folio but various other Audubon art. Tom and the curator envisioned a partnership between the Audubon Museum in Henderson Kentucky and Hamilton Color Lab where Dave Hamilton would digitally capture and restore the art and  both the museum and and Hamilton Color Lab could sell the prints, branded and authenticated with the JJ Audubon Museum Fine Art Collection seal.

The first step has been completed, with two full days of photography at the museum capturing over 800 pieces of art, some the public has rarely seen, except in the Audubon family museum. Next came step two, selecting a few pieces from the Folio series to restore, print and send to the museum for approval and the go ahead to proceed with the remainder of the art.

Prints were packaged and shipped UPS to Henderson Kentucky and the next week Tom and Dave contacted Allen on the phone. Allen said when he opened the box and removed the parrot and hawk prints the first words out of his mouth were “These are drop dead gorgeous!”

Success!!

Now the real time consuming work begins, starting on the first book of the DE Folio. Eventually there will be four leather bound limited edition books, just like the original series and individual limited edition prints in the original size and one size smaller, printed on cotton rag archival paper using a Giclee printing process. Details have yet to be worked out regarding price, number of editions, and sizes. We are still in the beginning phases of this project.

We are compiling a mailing list for those interested in purchasing any prints and invite you to complete the form below. Mailing address is not mandatory, but if you include it we will mail you notifications on the progress of the JJ Audubon Museum Fine Art Series.


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Negatives and Slides? Do They Still Exist?

Do people still print photos from negatives and slides? I know it sounds out of date, vintage and not worth the trouble. Although very few people still use film cameras there are still negatives and slides in boxes ready to be discovered. Every week we have customers bring us vintage negatives, either from their 35 mm film, or negatives from the 1940′s and have us reprint their families memories.

Hamilton Color Lab can make wonderful prints from negatives and the color from slide prints are authentic and amazing in their clarity and color. We still print on silver halide Fuji Lustre paper, which is a true photography process, for the best results, and our technician is a perfectionist when it comes to getting the best results from your prints.

Slides_WHT_0811

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Your family memories stay in house, we do not ship them out to an off site lab across the country. So you can be assured your family treasures will be safe and handled with care.

To our knowledge,  we are the only photo “wet” processing lab in Omaha that still prints photographs on traditional silver halide paper. This is the same type of paper and RA4 silver based photo processing used for over a hundred years to print your grandparents photos. Many other area photo printers have gone to a dry ink process. Based on what we have seen, and the customers coming in the door, many are not happy.

There is a reason why professional photographers get their clients photographs printed using the traditional wet chemistry. Prints are sharper, last longer, more durable, and are water resistant.

We can print the following negative sizes and prints, from most medium format cameras, including the 110/220 camera with photographic results that will last for many more generations.

  • 6×4.5cm  (or 645 film)
  • 6×6 cm (2.25 x 2.25 inches)
  • 6×9 cm  (2.25 ” x 3.25inches)
  • 6×7  cm (typically called 2×3″ film)
  • 135F (24 x 36 mm)
  • Standard 35mm

Think of it this way. You have found a valuable treasure in vintage negatives, you want to save these prints for your children and their children to preserve family history. Wouldn’t you want to print them on the best paper to preserve them as best as possible?

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Photo Archiving, A Better Solution

In almost every closet or basement there is a box of old vintage photographs from years ago taken with film that document family history, birthdays, wedding  and genealogy through photographs. Many photos are stored in albums, some in shoe boxes, many are yellowing with age and the images are slowly disappearing.

The challenge is how to preserve and archive these photographs for future generations. Your photos don’t have to disappear and fade away. Stop the deterioration now before it’s too late.

At Hamilton Color Lab we are experts and pros at digitizing photographs. We take the process a few steps further than a home flat bed scanner or a “one-hour” photo lab where quality can be less than desired.

Hamilton Color Lab scans photos at a high resolution of 400 dpi to archive your photos and preserve them for generations

Although technology has improved over the year home scanners still have their limitations, especially when reading  density and shading gradients in the  blacks and whites. This becomes important in photos where detail is important. For example detail on a wedding dress, or black pants disappear with over-the-counter consumer scanners.

Self service consumer scanners found in department stores and chain pharmacies are even worse. We have seen the results of many disappointed customer who bring in digital files with  poor color, scanner noise, low resolution and the ability to only print small sizes.

However with our state of the art scanning process, detail is preserved. Our scanners are calibrated for color, contrast and just the right amount of sharpness to fool your aunt that the copy isn’t the original. You’ve heard the saying “Is it live, or is it Memorex?” Well, a Hamilton photo scan is so close to the original you might have a hard time telling the two apart.

So bring in your 4×6, 3.5×5, photos, and even your larger prints up to 8×10 in size. All we ask is they are sorted by size and facing in the same direction.

Mention this article for a 10% discount on our already low prices.

For a limited time we are offering an archive scan and print for only $1.00 (Qty 250+)

What you will receive

  • Professionally scanning process
  • High resolution digital  400 dpi JPG images (CD or provided USB drive)
  • Printable to 11×14
  • Images ideal for cropping and enlarging
  • Fine detail, noiseless images
  • Archival 4×6 photo processed prints
  • Silver halide archival photo paper
  • Archival acid-free sleeves to protect images for generations

We recommend to back up your photo files onto your computer or other storage device and place the original discs in a secure safe place away from heat and humidity. With the backed up digitized photos you can them either create slide shows, photo books, or any myriad of photo editing and digital scrap booking projects.

A Few FAQs about Hamilton Color Lab

  1. All photos are scanned in house by qualified technicians who care about your memories (we do NOT ship to a fulfillment center)
  2. Located in Omaha Nebraska at 120th & I Street (4305 South 120th St to be exact)
  3. Have been in business for over 40 years and the same location since 1990
  4. Same owner, family business run by Dave Hamilton
  5. All photos are printed in house on a range of calibrated printers
  6. One of the few photo printers that still print on silver halide paper with true photography chemistry
  7. We answer our own phones, care about our customers, and love bacon (did I say that?) Yes, we can be bribed with bacon or chocolate.
  8.  We accept not only local orders but you can upload digital prints to our website, or send us your (very carefully packaged) photos for scanning.

If you have any questions about our services please feel free to call us at 402-330-1600

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