Snap! it!

Every second Friday of the month you’ll be given a Snap! photo assignment which we are going to post on Facebook! (Which means you need to LIKE The Lab Works).

Why Snap!…because it’s easy, (a snap) fun and gets you out and shooting.

The images that arise from these Snap! assignments are meant to be seen! By you, by everyone. Why? Because it’s cool. Everyone gets to see your prowess behind the lens.

There are 7 Dos and Dont’s to follow if you want to Snap!

1. Don’t use your DSLR.  Or…  use it ?!?  (see #6)

2. Do shoot from the hip. (see #3.)

3. Don’t over-compose. Don’t think too much.  “Spur of the Moment”.

4. Do use a point and shoot camera. Digital, smartphones and film. (what’s film???)

5. Do use apps like a SlowShutter , Decim8 and Instagram on your smartphones. Experiment. Pile on the filters. The more the better.

6. Do break the rules.

7. Always have your camera ready to leap into action. Life happens…. Snap! it.

So now that you have all these cool shots, get an insta-folio album published too. (insta-folio? is that a word?)

10 to 15 – 5×5 pages with coil binding, only $9.99

16 to 20 – 5×5 pages with coil binding, only $12.99


**Order on-line using ROES and type the word Snap! in the special instructions box for your images to be bound and priced accordingly.

Tips for Cross Processing

Lomo is fun, sassy, sometimes cheeky, and very serious about being interesting and creative!

The Lomography Brand is a bunch of things, but to sum it up, they make “toy” camera’s that take film. Now indeed for some, film is a little bit mysterious.

This how Wikipedia explains film:

Photographic film is a strip or sheet of transparent plastic film base coated on one side with a gelatin emulsion containing microscopically small light-sensitive silver halide crystals. The sizes and other characteristics of the crystals determine the sensitivity, contrast and resolution of the film.

The emulsion will gradually darken if simply left exposed to light, but that spontaneous visible change is too slow and incomplete to be of any practical use. Instead, a very short exposure to the image formed by a camera lens is normally used to produce only a very slight chemical change, proportional to the amount of light absorbed by each crystal. This creates an invisible latent image in the emulsion which can be chemically developed into a fully visible photograph.

So, the low down is – there are a couple of different types of film that each follow certain rules. C41 is colour print film. It is a negative film that when printed becomes positive. It is called C41  because it is processed in a chemistry called C41.

Colour Reversal  film is also known as slide or transparency. It is also referred to as E6, based on the chemistry it is developed in. Colour reversal film is a positive film type.

Black and white film is just black and white. It’s process is based on the film speed and type (Delta 100, TriX, PanF, etc..). It is a negative film that when printed becomes positive.

Lomography has inspired a new wave of photographers who are shooting film. Not only is it super fun waiting for days to get your film processed, but it’s also fun to understand the photographic process and then mess with the rules!

What is Cross Processing?

Cross processing is a technique for C41 and E6, where you process your film in “the wrong” chemistry. (You can’t do this with black and white).

In doing so, you can create some very fun visual effects that programs like Instagram are mimicking digitally.

I want to share a few easy tips to consider when cross processing. (You may want to do additional research if the terms I’m using are unfamiliar).

When crossing from colour reversal (E6) to colour negative (C41), the film tends to pick up density. This means that highlights or white areas will be “blown out” (lacking detail) and shadow areas will be very black and also without detail. The film you use will partially depend on the outcome as well. A contrasty E6 film will become contrasty colour negative. (I worked with one technician who called this “chewy film”). The opposite may be true when you shoot with a more neutral film, such as a portrait film. Sometimes contrast will be the effect you desire and sometimes it won’t be. To minimize the contrast gained in cross processing, you can always “pull” the film back either in chemistry or when you are shooting.

*This is where it can get complicated…

Ex: If you have an iso 100 film, I would rate it at iso 160, then process “as though” it’s been shot at 100 (you don’t need to instruct the lab other than to tell us to cross process). However, you could request that we process your film with a pull process. If you rate and shoot “normally” and want additional contrast, you can ask us to Push your film – or you could “push” in-camera. If you have a 100 iso film, you could shoot it “as though” it were an 80 iso film and then have the lab cross at “normal”. (No push or pull).

When crossing from colour negative (C41) to colour reversal (E6), the film tends to lose exposure and you can end up with almost nothing on your film. Mediate this problem by overexposing your film from 2-4 stops of exposure. Depending on how much light-leak you have in your Lomography camera, the film might already be over exposing itself! Bonus! If you aren’t 100% certain, you can ask us to “push” the film at least 1 or 2 stops in the development process, which will “add light” to the film. Keep in mind that once the film is processed, you should have it scanned where you can play even more with those digital files! Different saturation rules apply with this type of crossing. I prefer a super neutral film (drugstore film is good). Sometimes, when crossing C41 – E6 highlights can pick up pink. To offset this effect, try filtering with an 80A (Tungston balance filter). Play around and see what works best for you!

There is a lot of fun you can have with cross processing. Once you get to learn your camera and what it is doing with your film of choice, you can  bend and play with the rules.

I have posted a few images that were shot with a lomo camera (sorry, I have scant details). Our client wanted the “lomo look” so we took her C41 film, pushed it a stop and crossed it through E6 (Colour Reversal) and got these fantastic results. We love the way the photographer composed these shots and hope we get to see more of her work in the future!




It’s January.

It’s cold outside, the daylight is still limited to a mere 8h 40 min. from sunrise to sunset.

To take your mind off the fact that its dark and cold, I highly recommend visiting the Platform Centre for Photographic and Digital Arts this Friday night for the opening reception/booklaunch of  be.still, an exhibition by The Pinhole Artist Collective (PAC).

“PAC is a collective of artists interested in exploring the artistic plurality of analogue and digital photography. Growing out of the spirit of Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day and the DIY artistic philosophy, they are hands-on, resourceful, playful, and open to constructive criticism. In regular gatherings, the collective engages in both critical discourse and artistic creation and is, from time to time, nomadic. PAC members participating in be.still are Sarah Crawley, William Eakin, lori fontaine, Beth Johnson, Jen Loewen, Merrell-Ann Phare, and Bonnie Tulloch“.

The reception is to begin at 7:00.

See for more information. Or,


Check out this link for some good old fashioned pinhole fun!


Analog vs. Digital


Photography by Paul Martens using a Poloroid SX70 (Not digitally manipulated)

This image was taken with a Poloroid SX70. I love this image as it serve to show what was possible with special film types before Photoshop – and what inspired many Photoshop techniques to take shape.

This is a fun one! I found some of the old printed news letters The Lab Works used to generate. My, how have times changed! Here are some old terms we used in the early 1990′s:

Internegative – a negative made from a slide or transparency in order to make a colour print.

Copy Negative – a negative made from an original print where the negative is not available.

Cibachrome  – a direct slide-to-print process which does not require an internegative.

Full frame – to print the full image without cropping onto a standard sized sheet of paper.

Bleed – an image that has no border, as  “the image bleeds off the edge”.

Push processing – to prolong the time of development in an effort to compensate for underexposure.

Pull processing – to reduce the time of development in an effort to compensate for overexposure.

You may or may not be familiar with the film related terms. Processes like cibachrome and interneg became obsolete as scanning became a more viable (and less toxic) option. Dodging and burning, while still a popular method, is now performed with “tools” in Photoshop. A very cute story was recently told to me by Ian McCausland about a young woman who didn’t know why Photoshop had icons of the “lollipop and OK sign”. Ian explained they are the dodge and burn tools -  explaining how in the darkroom dodging is generally done with a circular piece of card attached to a thin wire while burning is accomplished by making a circular opening with your fingers (allowing the rest of the hand to prevent the light from affecting the rest of the image). Naturally she understood, however never having been in a darkroom – the connections were never made.

But I digress.  As it goes with change, people made some fuss and the collective “we” fought the notion (as some still do) that anything could do better than film.

Some opinions still rest on the notion that a person hasn’t really learned photography until they have learned on film. I believe many newbies to the craft, who are only learning with digital cameras would beg to differ. After all, the task is still the same – use light to expose an image. Exposure can be on film emulsion, emulsion based photo paper or a digital sensor. The effects are similar – if you don’t expose the frame right you will blow out highlights, block up shadows and struggle to make a good print.

As it also goes with change – luckily -  comes the psychological flexibility and our ability to adapt.  The digital learning curve was steep and somewhat painful in those early years, but you managed to figure it out and become the photographers (and then some) you were with film! Nothing to stop anyone now! Darkrooms were sold, film camera’s were set aside and consigned. It seemed like no one was ever going to look back (or smell like chemistry ever again.).

Clearly the shift to digital has had an enormous impact on the industry.  As a lab, we had the extraordinary task of keeping up, and you as photographers, pushed us to keep maintaining the status quo. Now that film is disappearing faster than the polar ice-caps, I wonder if this immediate threat of extinction of a historical process is causing some collective regret. Or rather a secondary shift in thinking? Film actually is that great but so is technology. Instead of  re-inventing the wheel, technology is blending what was incredible about film and putting it in to digital camera’s. Fuji and Leica make a digital rangefinder that look and feel like analog camera’s and software companies like Nik have profiles that are meant to mimic film types.

One serious advantage of digital technology is how it encapsulates the camera, film, and darkroom all in one. Perhaps not as much with DSLR’s when shooting RAW, but fact remains with files “out of the can”, dodging, burning, contrast, and colour adjustments can be completed in one action. Sure, a few slides on levels and a tweak in brightness and contrast may be necessary, BUT. Digital filters make effects simple and creative where as back in the day, if you wanted special effects, you either learned  them in the darkroom, or you took up an interest in the myriad of lens filters available to add or subtract colour, polarize, vignette, blur, even “star” (wow!). Never MIND what was possible with some of the Poloroid films. Nowadays Snapseed is taking smartphone editing to new heights with filters like grunge or drama – but do not be mistaken – these are all inspired by the blood, sweat and tears of the film shooters who worked endless darkroom hours to get unique effects that were different from the norms.

So, what exactly am I trying to say? I suppose simply that the worlds are not different but parallel. They compliment one another – acquired traditional skills are used in the digital world and the creative freedom in the digital world inspires techniques to be used in analog methods. It’s actually kind of exciting.

I’d like to know what you think. With or without consequence, the analog-digital discussion is sure interesting and fires a lot of debate.

Happy Shooting!












Happy New Year!

Welcome to The Lab Works blog site!

This blog will contain information and news pertaining to The Lab Works and the community around us.
Through this blog we hope to open a dialogue among our photographic community at large. We wish to facilitate discussions where information and ideas are shared in order to lend a broader perspective to the wonderful world of photography.
In the spirit of Beautifully Photographic, we were particularly inspired by this piece of old film. Our client was uncertain of the film’s vintage but he suspected it’s from the dark ages of the early 90′s. The film in the canister got wet at some point in it’s life and was rusted. Before processing, we had to submerge the roll in water and gently ease it apart. We processed the negative film and found the results to be stunning! Scanning of the negative film was the next step. Inspired by the organic nature of the melted look of the emulsion, the decision to layer safari animals seemed supreme. I love how digital and traditional come together to create a universe of possibility.

Processed colour negative film which was scanned


The results of scanned film, layered with images taken on an African safari


Your homework:

Think beyond what you know is possible. Can you replicate this look? Expose some film, soak the canister, leave it in the sun to bake while skiing for the day and let us process your alchemical undertaking.

On your journey, take a look at–expired-papers

Alison Rossiter has worked with the materials and processes of light sensitive, gelatin silver based materials since 1970. Essential to her work are traditional methods and experimentation. We can’t help but be captivated by her darkroom processes as her work embodies process. “Her photographs are, in the root sense of the word, against time. They are the measure of a distant past, an intimation of lost time. …she not only resists time but breathes new life into it. Out of her darkroom manipulations and accidents, incomparable light floats to the surface” (Border Crossings 119.3.30 (2011):70. Print.)

Alison wants the beauty of her work to “seduce people who know nothing about photography”.

Be inspired!