Another one bites the dust

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by David Nebenzahl, Dec 4, 2007.

  1. So I talked to the person today who I am pretty sure was the last to
    operate a commercial wet color darkroom here in the San Francisco East
    Bay, and sure enough, as I suspected since he just recently moved, his
    darkroom didn't make the move. (His business was previously called
    "Clone Art".) So as far as I know, that leaves nobody on this side of
    the bay who makes "real" color prints. (Dunno about the South Bay or San
    Francisco, but I don't hold out much hope there either.)
    David Nebenzahl, Dec 4, 2007
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  2. David Nebenzahl

    G.T. Guest

    Bummer. I've been making the transition back to film with the hopes
    that everything had hit bottom already.

    G.T., Dec 4, 2007
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  3. David Nebenzahl

    David Starr Guest

    Sounds like an opportunity for someone to start a niche business.
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    Retired Shop Rat: 14,647 days in a GM plant.
    Now I can do what I enjoy: Large Format Photography
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    David Starr, Dec 4, 2007
  4. David Nebenzahl

    jjs Guest

    It would seem so, and there is a place for a conventional color and B&W lab
    to make its mark, but it unlikely to happen. IMHO the rare clients seek
    printers who have established a reputation alinged with their own in terms
    of Handmade Prints. Unfortunately, the later art directors and cliens have
    all caved in to the fact that clients expect photographers (not labs) to
    make the prints. The very worst part is that the clients have low
    expectations for output. It's all about the bottom line. Vision, critical
    requjisites, critical taste has gone away.

    So the art winds down to mediocracy.
    jjs, Dec 5, 2007
  5. David Nebenzahl

    Scott W Guest

    Darkroom work is really now a hobbyists activity, expecting someone to
    try and stay in business doing it is asking a bit much.

    Scott W, Dec 5, 2007
  6. David Nebenzahl

    jjs Guest

    Have you seen what custom B&W printers get for their work if they are good,
    and have a good reputation? Certainly, almost any bloke with bucks can open
    a digital do-it-yourself shop or quickie CD lab, but so what?

    Digital has liberated and elevated wet-darkroom work and film.
    jjs, Dec 5, 2007
  7. David Nebenzahl

    Scott W Guest

    The point is that darkroom work is quickly leaving the commercial market
    and being left as a hobbyist activity.

    The OP bemoaned the loss of the last place that made "real" color
    prints. There is not much market for "real" color prints or there would
    be more places doing them. But if someone feels that the old ways are
    best they can set up a darkroom and roll their own, this is as it should
    be, IMO.

    Scott W, Dec 5, 2007
  8. David Nebenzahl

    jjs Guest

    Well, Scott, this is Do you think anyone here gives a
    damn about the commercial market?
    jjs, Dec 6, 2007
  9. Yes, I do feel that the old ways are best--but obviously, the market has
    decided that those ways are no longer viable, so I am *forced* into the
    bargain that you described. But your blase, somewhat
    libertarian-sounding advice omits the crucial fact that it takes not
    only equipment and money to set up such an operation, but also that
    invaluable component known as experience.

    I bemoan the loss of this service because I had Tony (the owner of
    Cloner Artworks, now reincarnated as Berkeley Giclée), previously made
    some color prints for me from negatives, and they were absolutely
    gorgeous. Far, far better than anything I could hope to do even if I did
    spend the money (which I don't have), buy the equipment, and spend a
    year or two monkeying around with color printing. He provided a valuable
    service that the "market", in its infinite wisdom, has decided should
    end up in the shitcan.

    So, in short, your answer sucks.
    David Nebenzahl, Dec 6, 2007
  10. David Nebenzahl

    Michael Guest

    Maybe not. Look at this website:
    Michael, Dec 6, 2007
  11. David Nebenzahl

    Dana Myers Guest

    I haven't had any prints made there in some time, but Action Photo
    Service in Concord appears to still do traditional wet printing.

    Dana Myers, Dec 6, 2007
  12. So that makes two (in this thread) so far. Maybe someone should compile
    a list of current extant color printers ...
    David Nebenzahl, Dec 6, 2007
  13. David Nebenzahl

    Scott W Guest

    I was having B/W prints done commercially something like 30 years ago
    in a fairly small town. It seems like there were lots of small one
    man labs that would make prints. These were for where I worked and it
    worked very well for me since I would drop off the film and in a day
    or two have the prints. Back then there was not much of any other way
    to get prints done so if you were a company and needed prints from
    time to time you would use one of these small labs to get prints
    made. But I believe that during this same time frame almost all
    amateur photographers doing B/W had either a darkroom or access to

    I sure that there is still some work for small labs making B/W prints,
    but it can't be like it was 30 years ago.

    Scott W, Dec 7, 2007
  14. David Nebenzahl

    jjs Guest

    Does Gamma still have a lab in the BA?
    jjs, Dec 8, 2007
  15. Just a little clarification, in case it wasn't clear: There are plenty
    of places around that still make "wet" color prints: they're known as
    your local drugstore/"photo" store that makes quick prints. The
    difference is that all these processors are "hybrids", meaning that the
    front end is digital (scanning negatives), and the print is exposed
    digitally (w/laser) and then wet-processed. I'm talking about all-analog
    processing, making optical prints the old-fashioned way.

    And yes, I can tell the difference. While the quality of the digital
    prints is pretty good, I can definitely see artifacts due to
    digitization, particularly in certain kinds of textures. A well-made
    optical print brings it to a higher level of clarity (while a
    poorly-made optical print looks mushy).
    David Nebenzahl, Dec 12, 2007
  16. David Nebenzahl

    jjs Guest

    Our local photo place has always dumbed down printing so that no matter how
    sharp prints are, everyone gets the same damned diminished outcome. I swear
    they have Artifical Anit-Intelligent software. All their prints have sucked
    from the old totally wet days to the scan-to-digtal stuff today.
    jjs, Dec 13, 2007
  17. Well, I have to say that I'm getting pretty good results from my local
    "service provider" (aka Longs Drugs), with their Fuji Frontier. I do see
    the artifacts I mentioned above, but other than that the prints are
    pretty damn good.

    Do you know what kind of equipment your people (with their AAI software)
    use? A lot seems to depend on the organism sitting at the controls.
    David Nebenzahl, Dec 13, 2007
  18. I'm amazed that it sounds like there's more than a very small handful, as
    I'd thought it was basically a dead business! Though for an established
    lab that's processing RA4 anyway, keeping an enlarger with a color head
    around for the oddballs who want it isn't much of an investment.

    It's basically just morbid curiousity on my part, though; if I care
    enough to want to do a direct enlarger print instead of scan+digiprint, I
    care enough to print it myself.
    andrew m. boardman, Dec 15, 2007
  19. David Nebenzahl

    Alvaro Guest

    At his point, it is hard to keep opened most of business based on
    photo-chemical processes so it is difficult to find suitable places to
    develop our "old" films and prints. Affortunately, we still have films
    and chemicals in order to work in our darkroom, the only place where I
    have got best results for my shots.
    Alvaro, Dec 20, 2007
  20. David Nebenzahl

    jjs Guest

    Speaking as one who does custom B&W printing, I do not welcome more
    business. I focus upon customers who are successful in their B&W work and
    appreciate the prints, and can pay.

    The field of custom printing has become narrow as the digital nutz go their
    way and a highly select group of qualified clients continue to work in
    conventional B&W film.

    Fewer custom printers is a good thing. It simply reflects the field vs. the
    digital mavens. It has come to the point that persons wanting quality B&W
    printing have to show us that their work is worth the $$ or bedamned .I
    don''t care how mucn money you have. There is no shortage of qualified
    photographers looking for good printing. Amateurs should look to Walmart or

    Life is very good here in the film world.
    jjs, Dec 21, 2007
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