Should You Edit Your Film?

In this issue, Jakob Lilja-Ruiz, aka @Portra_Papi, delves into the age-old question of whether or not to edit your film scans. He touches on the history of photography and how analog methods have transitioned into digital manipulation, ultimately arguing that it is important to understand how scanners process color differently and how to correct your film accordingly. Jakob shares his personal experience using Gelatin labs and how we have helped him maximize the potential of his images.

This inquiry didn’t seem to concern legendary photographers like Ansel Adams, who would spend hours in the darkroom meticulously dodging and burning images to achieve his envisioned result. Throughout the history of this medium, photographers have breathed life into their images in the darkroom. As analog methods transitioned into digital manipulation, the new question became how to accurately represent the true colors in processed images.

Exposure stands as one of the most impactful elements within photography. However, digitizing images introduces challenges, if you aren’t careful to make adjustments while scanning, and in post with your edits.

The process of scanning film from home remains a most complex task to master, due to the diverse range of equipment available today. Opting to not edit your film relinquishes control over to the choices of a lab technician. Having the ability to choose Contrast and Temperature preferences via your lab lessens the amount of subjective choices a technician needs to make.

Jakob’s preferred Look and Feel for his scans.

If you are opting to utilize Gelatin’s Flat Contrast option during scanning, discerning the exact exposure captured in the images becomes the challenge.

Fine-tuning contrast stands as one of the impactful creative decisions for analog photographers. With preset color stocks, the choice in contrast becomes a defining style within our archives.


Understanding that scanners process color differently is crucial for correcting your film.

While home scanning methods like flatbeds and DSLR scanning offer alternatives, larger commercial scanners, like the Noritsu HS-1800 at Gelatin, unlock a level of quality that’s challenging to replicate with home-based solutions.

As a full-time travel photographer, the bulkiness and time consumption of home scanners nearly halted progress. Being able to ship out my film allows me to remain on the road while obtaining massive TIFF files to work with.

Utilizing Gelatin Labs has maximized the potential of my film after trying countless labs over the years. The substantial data and color profiles stand out as the best I’ve come across, and it’s heartwarming to watch a family-owned Father and Son lab evolve into one of the finest labs in the US.

About the Author

Jakob Lilja-Ruiz

Jakob Lilja-Ruiz (aka @Portra_Papi) is a film-based landscape photographer who has a deep passion for capturing the beauty of wild places and the people who journey through them. Originally from a farm town north of San Francisco, Jakob’s love for photography sparked his desire to explore the world beyond his small hometown. He was inspired by the adventurous spirits of nomads traveling the country, chasing rugged landscapes across the US.

Jakob has been traveling with a camera for 5 years, with over 3 years spent solely on film. This way of life led him to sell everything in his small Bay Area apartment and live on the road, fully dedicated to pursuing his passion for photography.

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2. The Gelatin drop-off box is directly across from the front desk. Place your order via the QR code on the box. Select ‘Ship Negatives’ to get negatives (and prints, if you ordered them) returned.

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