work placement -South West Colour laboratories

South West Colour Laboratories

Justine – part owner with Jim. Jim has worked at South West colour lab for 34 years and Justine took over from her dad 8 years ago.

Justine’s dad founded South West colour laboratories.
He started off as a photographer then started there film developing business 40 years ago in Brixham. It all began where him and his wife where they would process and develop film outside in their garden over night.
30 years ago they got too much business and had to move to larger premises. They went from industrial to also doing commercial work.
They started as all film but since then digital has got more popular they focus on digital. They till process film but only once a week.
From film and digital they now also do large format printing as do work for large companies such as Riverford farm, stover country park, and more. Their main clientele is wedding photographers. Mostly do work for commercial but also have personal non-commercial work.
They do exhibition work for students, This includes the hard rain project at Plymouth university.

They make it their business to keep up to date with all of the latest printing technology.
2nd in the world after Japan to have flexible inks – where you can put it onto moveable materials without the ink cracking. It also prints up to 3.2m long by 1.6m wide.
– can print on wood, metal, leather, (any flat surface up to 2 inches deep).
Also print with white ink which not many people do. Most people just print onto a white surface, but because they can print with white ink they can print onto clear surfaces and black and any colour. You have more flexibility wit white ink.

spent £95,000 on an LED printer so years ago but now it is old and they can’t get the parts for it, there is only one technician in the UK but he is now retired. As soon as this printer is broken it will no longer work, but the printing quality is better than the other ink jet printers.

print E6, C41, Black and white film. technolab printers £2,500 each. 20 years old. Began not knowing whether printing E6 would be beneficial but once they got the machine it was very popular. They would do 400ft a day or 70mm film – (40 square meters). Since digital came a long they barely do that a week.

scanning in the film negs they use a Epson V750 – use a neg carrier to hold the prints and move it a long one at a time.
When developing the film, they use a colenta machine. they turn all of the lights out and put the film into the right side. After about 10 minutes and the film has been fed into the machine you can turn the lights back on. In the first 10 minutes you have to carefully check on the film making sure it does not crinkle of scratch as that will ruin the film.

They are very careful about privacy and the images they use. As they also do personal photos they need to make sure that everything is in the law. Making sure that is they see indecent of illegal images that they with notify authorities.

Having this work experience has made me open my eyes to the different possibilities printing offers you. It has definitely helped going into a working environment, showing me that there is many different factors to photography. Without printers we would find it hard exhibiting out work. So many different kind of photographers and businesses use south west colour laboratories.
Everyone that works there is so friendly and helpful and they do the best the can, to make sure the work they produce is perfect. They have even worked through the night to meet deadlines and make sure the work is perfect for their clients.
i would like to go back to learn even more about what they do, and next time help them with some of their projects. Today i learned more about how they work and what they do as a company including the history behind. This is because i could not do much in case i did something wrong. Now that they have taught me about what each of the 4 person team does i might be able to do more.
Everything was so interesting, including learning about how much the equipment they use costs and how much they can profit or lose depending on what equipment they buy because it is all important. They need to make sure they make a profit.

Overall I think I learned a lot from today. That printing is an important part to photography and something i would like to look further into.

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