Before a late day round of golf, I dropped off a cd with my Spawn of Cinemascape picture on it at what used to be a photo store with one-hour processing place. At one time they sold a few cameras, lots of film and ready-made picture frames along with a ton and a half of one-hour prints. The store manager was pretty photo-knowledgeable and would, upon request, pay special attention to my processing/print orders. Not quite like going to a 'pro' lab but the results were very good.
A couple years ago, the owner of the store saw the death-of-film handwriting on the wall. She proceeded to build a new hobbit-style store (I'm not kidding - instead of High Peaks Photo it's now called There and Back Again)) and stock it full of upscale tourist memorabilia. As far as I can tell she nixed the film processing .. but ... she did install a Epson 7800 setup.
So, after Aaron had a print made of his Buscemi Cinemascape at the store (with very good results) I decided to give it a try. I ordered a 46×20 inch print of my ode to cinemascape. Here's where it got a more than a little weird for me.
The old photo guy was gone. In his place is a trio of cute gum-snapping teenage girls, It wasn't busy when I went in so they greeted me as 'team' at the counter. I explained what I wanted, they said, "Fine. It will ready in 30 minutes."
30 minutes!!! If, in the 'old days', I had walked into a 'pro' lab and asked for a print in 30 minutes, they would have stared at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears. Then they would have laughed hysterically. Then a manager would have stepped up and said (without laughing), "Sure, that'll be 8 billions dollars."
But seriously, the length of the process to make just a single test print alone would exceed 30 minutes. And, normal delivery for a print from a custom lab was at least 24 hrs, if not 2-3 days. A print could be had sooner with 'rush' service - which would double or triple the cost. That situation was one of many reasons I had a full blown E6, C41 and bw/color print darkrooms in my studio.
That said, at a custom lab, the print would be made by skilled lab technician - usually a wane pasty-face person (too much time in the dark) who knew all the tricks of the printing trade. Last night, one of the cheeky gum-snappers would be the 'technician' and put my cd in the computer, open it in PS and hit "Print".
One round of golf later, at around 9pm, I went back to the store. They are open until 10pm - try finding a pro lab with those hours. One of 'team' took me into their viewing room and, lo and behold, there it was - a remarkably accurate 4 ft print on Epson Ultra Premium Luster paper. After inspecting it, I felt it needed to be a bit darker. No problem. Over to the computer, a little curve adjustment (by me) and 14 minutes later a near perfect print.
Total cost for the venture (I kept both prints) - $80. I was so impressed that I am creating a custom calibration for their 'system' and with any luck at (and with my skill), I should be able to drop off a cd and return 30 minutes later to view and pickup a perfect print.
Holy cow. It's brave new world out there.
And, yes, I am beginning to warm to the idea of cheeky gum snapping 'technicians'.
PS - today's picture is of Marcy Dam which is located about 30 miles as the crow flys from my house. It is a very popular wilderness hiking destination on one of the trails into the high peaks wilderness. The dam was built in the late 1800s by the same company that operated the derelict mill in my village that I have recently been picturing. It was built as an impound for logs harvested from the area around the dam during the winter months. In the spring the logs were released and they made their way down stream and river to Au Sable Forks and the mill.