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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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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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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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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4th of July Photography

The 4th of July, or Independence Day, is the perfect time for family, food, fun, and fireworks. In towns and cities all across America there are parades and celebrations, many ending with the anticipated fireworks show.

4th of July Photogrpahy Tips

Tell us your best fireworks photography tips

It’s a great time to take out the camera and capture some of the festivities. In Nebraska fireworks can be sold ten days before the holiday, that normally is about June 26th, and in just about every neighborhood informal displays can be spotted. Much to the chagrin of the local police and law enforcement.

For photo enthusiasts, and amateur photographers the 4th of July is the perfect time to try out new photography techniques, take photographs of fireworks, parades, and all the festivities in red white and blue.

4th of July Festivities

4th of July Festivities

So, until July 1st, I’m asking for your favorite photography tips and for the 4th of July. They can include links to your blog and the top tips will get re-blogged and posted here the week of the 4th of July.

  • Where is your favorite place to shoot fireworks? (Omaha or elsewhere)
  • What camera tips, or words of wisdom, do you have for taking fireworks photos?
  • What is your favorite fireworks photo from previous years?
  • How do you capture patriotic photos?
  • How to take memorable parade shots?

Remember, bring your photographs to Hamilton Color Lab at 120th & I Street in Omaha Nebraska for professional printing results and memories that will last for generations. Take your photos off your camera and print photos again!


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Free Fathers Day Card

Graduation season at Hamilton Color Lab is just about over and it’s time for the next holiday, Fathers Day. Congratulations to all Dads and Fathers this month, we want to highlight our newest FREE Photoshop design for our customers and fans with this classy and masculine design just for Daddy.

This design is in shades of brown and the design and sized for a 5×7 card with an option for one horizontal photos or two vertical photographs. The vertical border can be turned on and off as a layer option (see below). No font downloads are needed for this Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements template.

Instructions are easy:

  1. Place your cursor on the layer labeled “Place image here”,
  2. Select FILE and PLACE. The image is then placed below the design.
  3. Flatten the image, save as a jpg and print your favorite photo lab for printing.

For best photo printing results choose a professional photo lab. Professional labs have heavier paper, sharper images, and increased detail clarity the one hour and budget photo printers can’t even touch.

For ordering from Hamilton Color Lab in Omaha Nebraska it’s as easy as uploading to our website. The cost for a 5×7 Fathers Day photo card is only $2.95. If you prefer you can bring your Fathers Day photo to our location at 120th and I street in sports Plaza and we will insert the photo and create the card while you wait.

For more Fathers Day craft and gift ideas

visit our Pinterest board “Just for Dad”