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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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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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.


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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.