FAQs

Why Film?

 

We often ask our clients why, in a digital age, they prefer to use film? The answers are many and various but most frequently we hear that the analogue process – and particularly the darkroom work – is more creative, enjoyable and ultimately more satisfying.  We’d be interested to hear what you think!

What makes Black & White Basement so special?

 

Black & White Basement is the brainchild of Keith Lyons, founder of Lab35 & Lab120 – UK’s leading professional photolabs for over three decades. Our bespoke B&W darkrooms now specialise in analogue film processing and printing using traditional hand enlarging equipment to produce work of the highest quality. Our photolab  is aimed at both the enthusiast and professional photographer still wanting to use film as part of their photographic repertoire and our most popular services are:

 

How do you develop my precious negatives?

With care and by hand – we process 35mm, 120 medium format rolls and even large format 5×4 sheet film – all to professional standards. Your negatives are pre-loaded into spirals and hand processed using the traditional ‘deep tank’ system with developer, stop-bath, fixer, filtered wash and final ‘photo-flow’ rinse for a perfect finish. Particular care is taken with time, temperature and agitation to allow for different film makes and types. Push/Pull options are also available for speed adjustment if required. Once the ‘wet’ stage is complete, films are gently air dried, hand-cut into 6’s and stored in archival quality clear sleeving.

Do you offer traditional hand enlargements?

Yes indeed – our hand printing darkroom is specially equipped for black and white film processing and printing using traditional Ilford and Kodak print materials and chemistry. All printing is supervised by our senior technician David Champion, who has over 30 years’ experience as a commercial photographer and exhibition quality printer.  Our carefully crafted prints are produced on DeVere or Leitz optical enlargers with Rodenstock and Focotar lenses to deliver that indefinable quality achieved only with real silver gelatine prints. Each print is expertly graded for density and contrast with burning and shading techniques applied where necessary. Finishing includes hand trimming and retouching with specialist photo-dye to remove blemishes or dust spots. You can choose gloss, pearl or satin resin coated paper and we also offer authentic fibre base paper for the ultimate exhibition quality.

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Can I hire one of your darkrooms?

Certainly – you can hire one of our three fully equipped darkrooms to make your own analogue black and white prints on a full or half day basis and at very reasonable rates. You will have exclusive use of the darkroom during the session with a choice of DeVere or Leica professional enlargers all with multigrade heads. You can opt for either traditional dish processing or use our super-efficient Ilfolab 2150 table top processor which delivers ‘dry-to-dry’ prints upto 20×16 inches in just 80 seconds. We supply all chemistry required for the session but clients are asked to bring their own printing paper of choice. Guidance on using the equipment is provided and expert 1-to-1 tuition is available with our senior printer David Champion by arrangement.

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Do you offer 1-to-1 tuition?

Yes – our one day tuition course is on a 1-to-1 basis but you can bring a friend or colleague to join the session at a discounted rate. We cater for all levels of experience – including ‘refresher’ requests –  and beginners are particularly welcome. You will be under the expert guidance of our senior printer and tutor David Champion who has a wealth of experience both as a photographer and darkroom technician. A typical day will cover both film processing and hand printing but there is a half-day option for clients wishing to focus on just one of these techniques.

Are your B&W processing and printing charges reasonable?

We certainly think so and customers often comment on our competitive prices. We offer a discount of 10% for 5 rolls or more, uprating or downrating (‘push/pull’) is free of charge and there’s 20% off multiple ‘same size’ prints from the same negative!

Can I call you for advice?

With pleasure – we will do our best to answer your questions and where possible offer a solution right here at Black & White Basement! Just call 020 7624 2244/45 or email keith@bwbasement.com

Where can I find your and can I send work by mail order?

We welcome both personal callers and mail order customers. We’re conveniently located in leafy St. John’s Wood, London NW8 – close to the famous Abbey Road Studios and Lord’s Cricket Ground. We’re just a few minutes walk from St. Johns Wood underground station on the Jubilee line and the 139 bus stops on the corner of Abbey Road and Blenheim Terrace. There is a small forecourt for customers to park their car during their visit. Click here for map and full address.

How do I pay for your services?

We’re happy to take payment by BACS, PayPal, cash or cheque.

Remember Black & White Basement is here to help – you shoot the film and we do the rest!