Prompted by inquiries from a visitor to the my web site Store, I’ve been exploring options for having “true black and white” prints made from some of my digital photographs. This involves having a commercial lab project the image from a digital file onto light-sensitive silver bromide paper, which is then processed in developer, stop bath, and fixer — much like in pre-digital days of yore, when all photographs were produced using light-sensitive materials and wet chemistry.
I sent the same 3 test files to two companies providing this service: Mpix and Digital Silver Imaging. The prints from both labs were virtually identical in tonality and detail, and very similar in paper surface. Both provided excellent results. I ended up going with Mpix to provide prints ordered through my web site, because they already provide excellent quality and rapid turn-around for prints of the full-color and toned-monochrome images in my Store. Because of their partnership with Zenfolio (my web site host), all I have to do is upload the files — Mpix handles the payment, the printing, and the shipping for me. (And since I still work a 40-hour week at my day-job, this makes selling prints on the side very manageable.)
Why bother doing this? Most inkjet printers still have a hard time producing truly grayscale images with tonal qualities matching silver bromide paper. If you love the look and feel of traditional darkroom prints, this is the best way to get it. So take a look at the “Black & White Silver Bromide Prints” gallery in my Store. I’ll be adding more images to the collection in the coming months. Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions.
Tim Messick Photography • Graphics
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