What’s so hard about Dye Transfer

Back in the day of dye transfer, photography was a trade taught in the US Miitary as well as private trade schools, many of which gladly accepted GI Bill tuition payments.

Large labs, processing hundreds of prints a week, divided the work into skill layers. As someone improved they were assigned to other tasks. Prove yourself often enough and you will have made it to a secure will paid career.

jobs. skills. steps

  • load film, clean, mop
  • soup film
  • mix chemcials for lab
  • make masks/seps
  • make mats
  • manage dyes and do rollup

The last task is key to the final result: rollup. This is primarily autographic; skill of hand, eye, timing with feedback. All the previous steps come together well, or the print fails.

Most of those who fail at dye transfer do so because they lack courage. They make the task harder than it is. Not even rollup is difficult, just needing attention.

Anyone who can teach dye, can teach anyone who can learn, in about 45 hours. This assumes you can get film in and out of a camera, and in and out of chemicals.

The hardest part about dye transfer was those who sold their weekend teaching skills to timid camera counter conversationalists.

Kodak’s Frank McLaughlin used to take people through the steps over the telephone. That’s how hard it was.