Blog posts tagged ‘darkroom’ - for Picture Tags click here

Black and White London

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Since the use of film in photography has dropped away to a minute fraction of what it was even ten years ago, and most of the darkrooms and suppliers have closed down, we’ve apparently reached a point where it’s found it’s own level now.

Many students are showing a keen interest in both black-and-white and colour film processes. Secondhand darkroom equipment prices, for so long in free-fall, are now on the rise. Even new films and papers are being developed.

Even so, now that there are only a few specialists about, it can be difficult to find the right supplier when you need them. So I thought it might be useful to make a list of the establishments I use in London. This list is by no means exhaustive, it’s just people that I use on a regular basis.

If you can recommend any other places please add the details in a comment – I still haven’t found somewhere to do full frame 35mm neg scans, for example, and I’d be very interested in hearing about anywhere!

I haven’t included the obvious places like Calumet and Jacobs largely since, even though they still stock some film related stuff, their emphasis is digital nowadays. Also I reckon everyone knows about them anyway.

Darkroom Services – hand processing and printing

Robin Bell – Robin is one of a kind. If you want the best exhibition or museum quality black-and-white prints make your way down to the little mews in Fulham.

Alan Robertson – One of the old school photography industry professionals, Alan is a great printer and knows all the tricks of the trade. Whether you need an old print restored, a film processed, a new print made – anything in fact – Alan will sort you out. It’s just sad to think that there don’t seem to be any youngsters learning the ropes – what are we going to do when Alan, and everyone like him, has retired? Alan is my neighbour in Iliffe Yard.

Darkside Photographic – A very good professional lab in Clerkenwell.

Rapid Eye – Good professional scanning services. They have a good reputation for colour work too, but I don’t know about that stuff.

Suppliers of Photographic Materials

Silverprint – Suppliers of all things analogue, as well as a wealth of advice. I buy paper and chemicals here, but they do much more.

Process Supplies – If you can’t get what you’re looking for here then you probably can’t get what you’re looking for.

Equipment Hire

Photofusion – They have an Imacon scanner you can use on an hourly basis, along with a wealth of other services available. You must pay a fee to join, but it’s well worth it if you frequent the place.

Fixation – They hire out film scanners, and a lot more.

I think that’s about it for the moment. I’ll add more if and when I think of them – but please feel free to add your own recommendations below.


Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Sadly it seems that a combination of the rapidly changing marketplace for photographic services and the tailspin that has taken control of the Spanish economy has caused the sudden closure of my local professional lab, BN Profesional in Valencia.

Known to many simply as ByN, the Spanish acronym for B&W or Black and White, this lab had been the prime professional resource in Valencia for many years, and I have been a client since February 2002 when I moved to the city. Obviously B&W processing, which had once – judging by the name – been the main business, had diminished in importance over the years. I sometimes got the impression that I was the only old-school customer they had left. But the company had invested heavily in digital output. They could produce the huge colour prints so beloved by galleries these days, but also even larger prints for the commercial market.

A company that was looking to the future, then. So what went wrong? Who knows. All I can tell you is that after a few days calling and getting an engaged signal I visited the place on Monday. The familiar office had the appearance of a place rapidly vacated. The piles of papers always on the desks had been knocked over, display stands upset, that sort of thing. It wasn’t as if the place had been trashed exactly, just that the occupiers had left in a hurry. The security shutter hadn’t even been pulled down.

Meantime I’ve been digging out my old dev tank and trying to track down a photo shop that still stocks chemicals.

Good black and white printers

Monday, February 16th, 2009

It’s getting increasingly difficult to find good black and white printers – I mean people who stand in darkrooms with their fingers in chemicals, not plastic boxes that sit on your desk. I have used Robin Bell in Fulham, who is of course great, but I could really do with someone more close by. In Valencia for instance.

What happened to all those people who spent their lives producing good B&W prints? Have they all retired?