UK b&w labs
I realise this may be slightly off topic and for that I apologise, but I value the opinions of you guys on APUG over usenet.
I process all my b&w film myself using a changing bag since I have no darkroom, but my problem is the printing. So far I've been disappointed with the labs I've tried, next on my list are Ainsleys Darkroom (www.ainsleysdarkroom.co.uk) who make an impressive claim on their website, but only print on multigrade rc paper when I'd really like my prints done on fibre.
Does anyone know of a decent b&w lab that hand prints on fibre paper in the UK? I guess I may have to consider pro labs like metro imaging in London, but things could start getting pretty pricey and travelling into london is a pain.
There are still a lot of really good black & white printers out there, who have carved a real niche for themselves, but most of them are in London, which is a bit of a pain.
But if it's any help, I can recommend:
Robin Bell, tel 020 7610 1020. He also works from a darkroom in Battle, East Sussex, tel 01424 775650.
Steve MacLeod, Potosi, tel 020 7729 5353
Klaus Kalde, tel 020 7729 5278
John O's, tel 020 7250 3155
Yes, most labs produce what one would describe as literal record pints, even when charging for hand printing on Fibre. Certainly a million miles from what an afficionado would consider a 'fine print'. I do think you will have to go to a specialist and unfortunately pay the dosh! The London focus is also true. I spent time with a fashion photographer in Manchester and showed him my work. He asked me to print for him when he required low volume mono work in need of real creative input. He said that he simply could not get decent work done locally at a decent price, or at all. When he needed such results (lith etc), he was paying about £60 plus for an exhibition standard 20x16 fibre with a 1 week turnaround.......wow!
Are there any communal dark rooms near you?
Good quality hand prints on fibre paper ain't gonna be cheap.
You could have a look at http://www.robinbell.com/ as suggested above.
Also maybe have a look in Black and White Photographer magazine, should be plenty of labs/custom printers advertising there.
Here's another one South West Colour Laboratories, they used to do everything and anything.
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Thanks for the suggestions so far. The university does have a darkroom, but it has a serious dust problems and the enlarger is not aligned properly, can't do 6x7, and has no glass carrier either so I just use it for contact printing my negs.
To be honest I don't have the time or patiance to produce a good quality prints and I really don't enjoy printing. It's hard enough finding the time to take pictures and develop the film! Things that I could do in 1 second in photoshop require endless trial and error in the darkroom and it frustrates me, it's a shame digital b&w just can't compete with traditional. I'd rather pay to have someone do it who has done it for years.
I'll see what Ainsleys Darkroom produce first even if it is on rc paper since the prices are reasonable. I don't make masses of prints anyway.
I am not sure if Mike Spry at Downtown Darkroom is still printing , if I had the dough and was needing a printer in London , He would certainly be the first on my list. He printed Anton Corbijn Star Trak, as well clients of mine have used him in the past on assignment in the UK and only good things were said of him.
You would not go wrong with a printer of his calibre.