Action Photo Company, Incorporated
3535 Ellwood Avenue
Richmond VA 23221-2722
Phone 804-355-7103 Email

Home About Us Commercial FAQs  Weddings Note Cards Policies Portraits Price List Film Processing and Printing



Copy Negatives Digital Prints File Sizes Latitudes  Restoration Scanning

Copy Negatives Back to Top

Sometimes you just lose a negative.  It's the worse thing that can happen, but all is not lost!!!  Here at Action Photo Co., Inc., we have been copying photographs and art work for decades. Using the best equipment on the market, we take the time, patience, and attention to detail to give you the best image a copy negative can give you. When your final image is going to be under 11"x14", we typically recommend a medium format copy negative.  Though fantastic images can be printed well past 30"x40" from this size negative, we recommend a 4"x5" negative for enlargements 16"x20" and over. When photographing art work, we take the additional step of making sure there is little or no surface reflections depending on the media used.  Artists have fought the appearance of brush strokes in their art work for years.  We have a solution that eliminates or greatly reduces the appearance of surface texture. Feel comfortable in having your work copied by Action Photo Co., Inc.!

Digital Prints Back to Top

Action Photo Co., Inc. offers a wide variety of print sizes up to 4'x10'.  When submitting files for digital prints, please be sure to "finalize" your images.  We make every effort to be sure that the print you get from us truly represents the file you gave us.  As with scanning, we keep the "human element" in the printing process as well to make sure what we see on our screen is what the final print looks like.  Action Photo Co., Inc. uses "ink jet" printers in outputting your files.  We also use output devices that print onto photographic papers through various methods.  You can be assured the prints you receive are as durable and long lasting as photographs you have been familiar with for years.

Film is going to be around for many years to come, but as with anything, there are new technologies and advancements coming out every day.  Digital imaging is the newest and hottest commodity to hit the photographic market since the first color negative created in the last century. Here at Action Photo Co., Inc., we have embraced the digital era and stand ready to help you with all your digital needs.  Since film still has the ability to capture more detail than can be done directly via a digital capture device (camera), our primary service to offer is scanning of negatives, transparencies and flat art.  For the best results possible, Action Photo Co., Inc. uses Imacon's Flextight dedicated film scanner. Unlike most scanners available, this unit is made for scanning film.  Using technology that keeps the film surface completely "flat" during the scanning process and TRUE  OPTICAL resolutions up to 5,760 dpi, we can scan with more than enough resolution for nearly every application you will come across.  Using this scanner, we can make files of varying sizes from negatives and transparencies from 35mm up to 4"x5".  this scanner also has the added benefit of scanning flat art with the same quality and resolution on images up to 8"x10".  Not everyone or every situation needs a 130 megabyte file, so when a "low resolution" scan is all you need, we can give you smaller, more compact scans suitable for "web" applications.  This comes in handy when you're cataloguing your 35mm slides. Though many aspects of scanning are automated, we keep the "humanity" in the system by VISUALLY inspecting, calibrating and dust spotting every image scanned.  Please keep in mind, if you are requesting a scan from a damaged negative or transparency, we will do DUST SPOTTING, but we will not be removing surface scratches, abrasions, fingerprints or other flaws that will show up under magnification.  If your image has some damage you would like corrected, we do offer image manipulation and enhancement.

File Sizes Back to Top

Oftentimes when a client comes in asking for a scan, they may not be sure of what size or format they need for their software.  Some programs cannot read every type of file that can be written.  Virtually every program can work with a jpeg so that's the "universal" format we suggest when scanning and saving images.  Keep in mind, when you ask for a high or low resolution scan, we will save the file as a pc tiff by default. If you wish a jpeg image as well, that's easily accomplished and there is no extra cost at the time the file is created.

So, now that we have a file type we know virtually everything can work with (jpeg), the question remains "how large a file can my software handle?"  Well, apparently most packages our clients are working with aren't very good when it comes to capabilities. No one has a problem taking images from the net and pasting into a document for presentation.  People don't realize web images are very small!  Oftentimes the files are less than 60k, depending on the image. There are several ways of achieving a file that small, but to keep things simple, we have 4 files you can try in your software.  Start with the smallest, then go up from there.  That way you get a good idea of what you actually need when we scan your image.

When clicking on each link, keep in mind it will take progressively longer for the images to appear.  Slower connections take even longer, so be patient!!!  Once the image has loaded, right click and (save picture as) download it as you normally would.  Some browsers ask if you want to compress the image or keep it the same size.  Keep it the same size! Try importing the image into your software and see what happens.  Repeat these steps until you get to one that will not work.  If they all work, you're safe! Just remember to tell us you need a jpeg as well and what size your software can use.

Image One
Size 69 kb
Image Two
Size 129 kb
Image Three
Size 750 kb
Image Four
Size 3,240 kb (3.16Mb)

Latitudes Back to Top

The ability to capture tones from darkest blacks to brightest whites and maintain detail in both areas.

A friend wanted to photograph a weapon he recently acquired and use it for a poster and part of an upcoming book on gun collecting.

He also entertained submitting the image in a photography contest recently announced. Not certain of what film he needed, he decided to use both negative film and transparency. That was the best first step he could have taken.

What are the advantages of using different film types, negative and transparency? Depending upon his use, a printer may prefer a transparency to scan from for his poster. The local copying center would have used a print to make inexpensive fliers announcing his upcoming book. And finally, our lab technicians would use the negative to make a 30"x40" print for his home.

The question that frequently arises is, "Can't I use one kind of film to do everything I need?" The answer is, "Yes, but it depends on what you are doing with the image". 

Let's address the first concern, film type. There are two basic types of film, transparency and negative. Which is best? Well, again, it all depends on how it's going to be used. Knowing his custom lab needed negatives to produce the large print for his wall, he used a fine grain large format negative. While he still had the camera and equipment in place, he shot a large format transparency for his printer to scan for his poster. The photography contest needed a slide for their judges to quickly view all the submissions, so a 35mm camera was handy for that.

Three different films and two cameras, could he have made due with just one shot? Yes, but here is what he had to consider before capturing that image on one type of film.

Color transparency film, both large format and in slide form is the same film, just different in size. What are the advantages? His offset printer is geared up for scanning images from transparencies. They offer good color accuracy and are easily viewed. The only down side to transparency film is its latitude, the ability to capture tones from darkest blacks to brightest whites and maintain detail in both areas. His pistol shot truly tested the range of his film.

Since transparency film has a range of 5 f-stops, he was able to maintain detail in the grip and still be able to see the fine brushed finish on the barrel. Sadly, the background lost most of its tonality because he had to expose for the highlights, therefore he lost detail. His negative, on the other hand, has an average 7-8 f-stop range, so both the grip and the light behind the pistol had the desired detail. Simply put, the transparency is more contrasty than the negative and captures less detail.

Knowing the capabilities of negative film and his attention to detail, I suggested we scan the from both, his negative and transparency, producing a high quality digital file from each. Having worked for many years with his printer, they produced a print from both scans. The print from from the transparency did look overall "snappier", but the image from the negative gave him the total range he was expecting. Since the detail in the book was more important than the poster, he opted to use the transparency image for the poster and the negative image for the book.

This is the dilemma many photographers face every day when they are asked to capture images for publication. What is the best medium for my subject? Determine what your client needs, then base your choice on the subject matter. If detail is needed across a wide range, negative is your choice, but if you don't need the range and your client agrees, transparency still works great!!!

Proportions Back to Top

On a recent walk along the James River, I took a wonderful panoramic image of the city. After printing the photo, a friend asked if I could print an 8" x 10" print for them. "Sure", I said, "but it won't be a full 8" x 10" print. There will be a border top and bottom." My friend said they had the perfect frame for my image and wanted it to be an 8" x 10" print without borders.

Off to the darkroom I went. A few days later my friend came by with their frame and wanted to see the print in the frame. This is what they got ...

"Where's the rest of the skyline? I wanted to see it all!!", my friend remarked. A shiver ran down my spine...

How many times has this happened to you? You take the most wonderful photo and when you ask to have it printed to a specific size, what you got is not what you had envisioned? Well, the problem is proportions!!!

Let's look at what we started from. Our original image is 20" high and 40" wide and we want a print 8" high and 10" wide. Look at the proportions:       

20" x 40" is a ratio of 1 to 2

8" x 10" is a ratio of 1 to 1.25

What does this mean? If the dimensions of my original print were 20" x 25", I could have given them an 8" x 10" print looking exactly like the one on my wall. If they wanted to see everything in my original 20" x 40" panoramic image, the print i would have given them would have been 5" x 10". Since I was constrained by their request for a borderless 8" x 10" print, I had no choice but to cut off the sides of the panoramic image I captured.

What does this mean to you, the client? When you ask for a specific size of print, 5"x7", 8"x10", 11"x14", and so on, your image must now conform to the proportions of its new size. If you want to see everything in your original negative, you will have to calculate the size that image will produce.

Since 35mm is a very popular format, we will use this for our examples. To see everything in your negative, the following print sizes are available: 4.9" x 7", 6.96"x 10", 9.79" x 14", 13.99" x 20". they all follow the ratio of 1 to 1.43, the proportion of 35mm negatives.

So, to get everything you see in your negative, you have to do the math. Measure the height and the width. Grab a calculator and divide the width by the height and you get a ratio. For my panoramic photo the ratio was 1:2. So, if I want a 10" wide print, the height must be 5". If I want a 60" wide print and see everything, the final print size will be 30" x 60".

Proportions are that easy, once you know the  ratio!!!

Restoration Back to Top

Recently, a client found this portrait in a relative's attic. Not sure of how long it had been there, she wanted to preserve the image and display it in her home along with other images of her relatives.

When she arrived, we took a look at it and gave her several options. The most inexpensive route was to copy the portrait, we never work on the client's original, and begin the restoration process from there. 

Her first option was negative retouching, to remove some of the flaws in the subject's face and in areas around her. Once this was done, we could vignette the image to cover up most of the damage and produce a pleasing portrait. Our client liked everything she saw in the portrait and wanted to keep it as close to the original as possible.

Her second option was digital retouching. Since we were already copying the portrait to a negative, making a high resolution scan of the image was very easy and cost effective. We discussed the areas she wanted special attention paid to and began by using one of the most advanced scanners on the market. We transferred the portrait from film to digital media.

Our next task was to, step by step, area by area, remove visible damage, enhance detail that was remaining and with a little poetic license, fill in areas that were no longer there. We then produced an 8"x10" print for our client to approve.

When presented with the approval image, our client was stunned at the transformation that had occurred!! After several moments of silence, she began to bubble with enthusiasm. Carefully, she looked over the image, inch by inch and came upon an area she wanted more work done to. With a little more computer time, the image was ready for the final steps.

Another 8"x10" digital print was made. This image went to our camera room where another high quality negative was made. This negative traveled to our in-studio custom printing lab. Our experienced technicians produced a 16"x20" print on fiber based paper, similar to the original portrait. Once the print was mounted, our client was called in to see her finished portrait.

Viewing the two portraits side by side, there was no comparison. The newly restored image maintained the look and feel of the original without compromising the features of the subject. Our client left happy and vowed to return with more portraits to be restored in this manner.

Let us bring new life to your treasured photos. Ask an Action Photo customer service representative about your options in digital restoration.

Scanning Back to Top

"What's the maximum resolution of your scanner?" We hear this question often at Action Photo. Generally our response is, "what is the output resolution needed for your project?" Yes, this sounds like the beginning of a verbal tennis match, but what we are trying to do is determine the right size file for your application.

So, what is the right file size? Well, again that will depend on how it's being used. If you are sending a file to your friends and family via the internet, a small file will be sufficient. On the other hand, if your image is being used for a magazine publication, the file size will be substantially larger.

Since most of the scanning we do is typically used for publications, we will address this matter first. Let's approach the file in this manner:

Okay, armed with this vital information, we can now tell you the proper file size will 9,234k bytes or 9.2 meg.

One helpful piece of information to remember is: If you don't know your final print size, it is always better to scan the image for a larger output size than necessary. Images can be resized down and maintain quality far better than being enlarged!!! Then the question returns, "why not the maximum file size? If I scan for the maximum detail, won't I get the the maximum quality?" The answer is yes and no.

When your image is reduced down to its final size and resolution, all unnecessary information is deleted. In essence, the 600 megabyte file you spent $150 for and waited 30 minutes to open was scaled down to a $10 scan that opened in under a minute!! Think of what you could have done with the $140 of data that was not used??

Often times when a client asks for an image to be scanned, they will request a particular resolution such as 300dpi. In other cases, they will ask for the closest, or next highest, optical resolution. What is the difference?

When images are scanned at optical resolutions, each point on the image will correspond to a point on the scanners imaging array.  Therefore you will get a more accurate scan. On the other hand, when images are scanned at a standard, or non optical resolution, the scanner must interpolate the information that exists between the points on the imaging array. Is the difference noticeable? That will depend on how closely you will be looking, or how much the image is being enlarged.

The next question in scanning is what file type is is best for your needs? We typically recommend a "tiff" file in either PC or MAC formats, depending on the computer that will be used. Tiff files are a more stable format to store image information. While the popular JPEG format is used more frequently, images that are stored, opened and saved in this format will lose information each time this process happens. Therefore, in time these files will become unusable. Keep in mind, if you are requested to provide an image in a particular file format, follow these instructions! There may be a very valid reason it is being requested in that way.

The key to this entire process is communication!! Knowing exactly what you need and how you need it will save you a lot of time, money and frustration!! But, when you are not sure, we are ready to advise the most cost effective route to take.