Hamilton Color Lab

The Professional's Choice for digitial imaging


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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.


2 Comments

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.


1 Comment

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.


Leave a comment

What Does it Cost to Print Professionally

With digital photography people are printing fewer and few images and the photos they print are the best representative of their memories. It would make sense to print these photos at the highest quality to last for generations. Professional photographers know the benefit of using a professional color lab to print wedding, infant and senior photos, but professional photo printing is not just available to professional photographers.

Hamilton Color Lab in Omaha Nebraska welcomes not only professional photographers but serious amateurs, camera hobbyist, and people who just want great photo prints.  The difference in a professional print vs. a 1-hour photo is clear: heavier paper, true silver halide paper (not dry ink), increased clarity, sharper details, improved color and a professional Lustre photo paper, not the obnoxious glossy finish.

The concept of a photo lab may seem archaic, even vintage like the car below in this day of one hour printing and instant gratification, but it’s worth your time to search out such a business. In Omaha we are located at 120th & I St in Sports Plaza and we believe in personal service.  We help you through every step and will load your photos and inspect the files for any potential errors before you leave.

Hamilton Color Lab with Customers Model A Ford

Hamilton Color Lab with Customers Model A Ford parked in front

Many people think it will cost and arm and a leg to print your photographs at a professional color lab. But it doesn’t. You can get the same quality paper, the same resolution and color management professional photographers receive for just a little more than your discount “one hour” printer at the corner store.

Maybe you purchased a professional digital package for your wedding or senior pictures. Your photographer put a lot of time, expertise, and spent a lot of money on her camera and lenses to capture you and your day in the best light possible. Now do you really want to take these to Walmart or Walgreens to get printed?

Professional Photo Printing

Rounded corner die cut wallets

Discount stores use discount paper, discount inks, and the cheapest methods possible to print photographs. Although some of the technicians may be trained in photo editing, most are not and cannot help you with even the basic questions. Most of the time you are placed at a photo kiosk and left on your own to figure out why the 8×10 version of your photo crops off your child’s head.

Hamilton Color Lab retail pricing

General Price Sheet

At Hamilton Color Lab you get personalized service, it’s painless and easy. Senior Mom’s walk out with a sigh of relief and in a fraction of the time that the previous trip to Walgreens.

Our prices are reasonable and we are the only location in Omaha (could be in all of Nebraska) that prints professional wallets with the rounded corners. Below is just a short flyer on our retail prices and when you want your photos and memories to last a life-time print them at a professional lab. We have the best prices in Omaha for true senior wallets.

For a more complete retail price list including quantity discounts, mounting, and canvas pricing download our customer retail price sheet.

If live outside of Omaha we can mail your order directly to your home anywhere in the country. If you are a professional photographer either in the Greater Omaha area we welcome you to stop by and take a look at our samples and services.

Professional portrait photographers do receive additional discounts and all we require is a State sales tax ID form to set up your account.


Leave a comment

A Window to the World

Sometimes a photography is a window to the world, and the right frame makes all the difference. Some of our favorite projects at Hamilton Color Lab is when a customer brings us a vision and the result is better than they envisioned.

When Otis Twelve came in with a large unique frame he found in an antique shop and an image to print, this project piqued my interest. Sometimes the picture frame takes an ordinary photo and makes is extra-ordinary.

Nebraska. Professional digital printing for professional photographers and serious amateur photographers. Senior portraits

The photo was formatted on a disc and I didn’t have an opportunity to see the image until it was printed. Considering the frame we were fitting it to I was very anxious to see what type of image could stand up to this magnificent frame.  Normally fine art photographs are printed with a white border, but this frame said otherwise.

The frame was crooked and almost a half inch shorter on one side than the other. So the border distance would of been apparent. After consulting with our customer the decision was made to frame flush to the photograph. What a dramatic difference! Our framing technician was also impressed on how the red leaves in this snow scene just popped and matched the red tones of the frame.

This work of art is truly like looking out of a window into the world and reminded me of the quote by Conor Oberst.

“If the world could remain within a frame like a painting on the wall, I think we’d see the beauty then and stand staring in awe”

I am certainly tired of winter, the snow, and ready for spring and some sunshine. The only snow I want to see is in a photograph, as if I’m inside looking through a window.

If you have a unique frame, and a vision for a photograph bring it to Hamilton Color Lab in Omaha, Nebraska. We are the only custom professional photo lab in the state and can print any size and turn your ordinary photo into a work of art.


2 Comments

Free Graduation Photoshop Template

High school graduation season is upon us and seniors are looking for fresh designs to showcase their announcements.  Hot off our Photoshop  desk is a classy black and white design 4×8 photo card design which will compliment any color photography.

As a gift to you we are offering this free Photoshop template as one of several we will be offering throughout the year. Not only thanking our customers, but to inspire your imagination, creativity and design.

The above template will work with Photoshop CS2 and layers are customizable for color and text. Font names and links are provided, or you can use your own font from your library.

Looking for a place to print your senior announcements? Just upload your finished JPG or  TIFF file to Hamilton Color Lab for professional photo printing of your announcements on professional Lustre paper. Your senior announcements will stand out from the crowd and make you shine.

We will be more than happy to ship your invitation order, or you can pick them up at our Omaha Nebraska location at 4305 South 120th St.

Check out our Facebook album for more graduation announcement styles and custom designs.