In my last blog post I wrote about a black and white (B&W) print product I had made by WhiteWall (click here to read). In this post I write about some more B&W photos I had printed by Ilfordlab.com for an exhibition in Cologne.
The problem I have found with B&W prints is that until you see a true B&W print you don't really know the difference compared to a print from your local printer. Place a true B&W print against a standard print and you will see the difference. I have found in the past that when I have got B&W prints back from a printer there has been a slight green or blue colour cast to the overall print. In making my own prints in a darkroom environment using silver gelatin paper my eye has become accustomed to actual black in a print.
So for this exhibition I needed seventeen 12x8" B&W prints; one from my digital camera and the rest from my film camera. Initially I went to a local printer who normally do a good job but in this instance I found there was an overall blue colour cast on all prints and the scans from my film negatives to be of a disappointing quality. For me this wasn't good enough, especially for an exhibition, so I had a look around online and found that Ilford, a highly respected name in the world of photography, had a photo lab that you can upload your images to: ilfordlab.com
I decided not to send them negatives due to time and instead sent digital scans. The other advantage of doing this was that I had the contrast, brightness etc to my liking. The upload process was straightforward and after I had ordered them early one morning they arrived the next day, securely packaged to avoid damage to the prints.
I was very happy with the results. The prints were sharp and had no off-colour blue or green cast. They were true B&W as Ilford use silver gelatin paper. I chose to go with a pearl finish to the prints, the other option being glossy. Pearl is a slightly shiny but textured print that minimizes reflections you would see in a glossy print. Different types of paper are not offered which is a bit of a shame as a thicker premium paper would be a nice option. As for prices click on the 'View Pricing Matrix' at the bottom of this page: ilfordlab.com/pricingmatrix (postage cost me £2.75).
I would definitely use this service again. The cost of the prints may be a little bit more than some other places, but you are paying for quality. I would like to see more options for types of paper but I've finally found a source for B&W prints that I am satisfied with. It gets the Andrew Wilson Photography seal of approval! Oh and if by chance you find yourself in Cologne from October 12th - November 8th then why not check the prints out at the exhibition?
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