CHAPTER 2
PHOTOGRAPHIC QUALITY ASSURANCE
To be successful in using photographic materials
in Navy imaging facilities, you must establish a high
standard of quality. This quality standard should be
aimed at producing negatives, transparencies, and
prints to please the most demanding and critical
customer. This standard must be flexible enough to
allow for improvement, whenever possible. However,
it must resist a compromise of poor quality. Once
that high-quality standard is established, you can
maintain it through an exacting and practical method
of quality assurance.
Quality assurance (QA) in photography has one
purpose--to ensure that photographic production is
consistently of high quality, whether it be a negative,
print, transparency, or other form. The quality of
these products is determined by three factors, each
having a number of variables. These factors are
human, chemical, and mechanical. The human factors
include the personnel involved in photography,
photographic development and/or printing, as well as
those photographers who work directly in the quality
assurance section of an imaging facility. Chemical
factors include all chemicals and solutions used to
process and print negatives, positives (viewing and
intermediate), duplicate negatives, and prints.
Mechanical factors include all equipment used to
develop and/or print film and subsequent
reproductions.
Quality assurance can be either subjective or
objective. A subjective quality assurance program
may simply be a set of standard high-quality
negatives, prints, or transparencies with which
production results are compared visually. Although
this is not a very reliable system, it works well aboard
a small ship or at a small shore facility where a low
volume of production is performed daily. A
subjective quality assurance program certainly is better
than no program, but it cannot take the place of an
objective program. The visual-comparison method is
very subjective and has limited accuracy.
Quality assurance may be applied to either a
portion of the photographic system or the entire
system. In quality assurance there are three basic
steps:
The quality standards for the process are
specified
The process is evaluated to ensure the
standards of quality are being maintained.
The causes of poor or substandard quality are
identified and eliminated from the photo-
graphic procedures.
Detailed quality assurance applied to the
photographic process assures the photographer a better
product when potential problems are detected early.
If a defective camera is allowing light to fog film, the
defect should be discovered after the negative is
processed (if not sooner). Certainly, it is a waste of
time and material to make prints from such negatives
if the photograph must be reshot. In this chapter,
several quality assurance procedures that can improve
the product are discussed.
Chemical and sensitometric methods are used to
ensure standards of quality are being sustained. The
production of high-quality photographic products
requires control over all factors that affect film or
paper. Film exposure and processing are the two most
important factors. Negatives or transparencies that are
not exposed correctly and processed uniformly may
have density differences (contrast) that are not within
acceptable limits. Such negatives or transparencies
cannot be printed successfully. Correct exposure and
film processing have a direct and positive bearing
on both prints and projected image quality. Good-
quality negatives and transparencies also help cut
operating costs by reducing waste due to retakes or
reprints.
Manufacturers of films, chemicals, and papers
recommend specific film exposure, chemical mixing,
replenishment, processing times, temperatures,
agitation techniques, wash rates, and printing and
drying requirements. To be sure that such
recommendations are followed in your imaging
facility, you should systematically monitor the
photographic process.
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