FAQ

Q. Why Film?

A. In a digital age, why do so many photographers still prefer to use film to capture their images? The answers are many and various but most frequently we hear that the process is more intuitive, enjoyable and the end result more satisfying. We'd be interested to know your reasons for using film.

Q. What makes Black & White Basement so special?

A. 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 darkroom now specialises in analogue film processing and printing using traditional hand enlarging equipment to produce work of the highest quality. The service is aimed at both the enthusiast and professional photographer who still chooses to use film as part of their photographic repertoire. All printing is supervised by Dave Champion, who has over 30 years experience as a commercial photographer and exhibition quality printer.  Dave is also our senior tutor providing friendly and expert tuition on a one-to-one basis.

Q. How do you develop my precious negatives?

A. With care and by hand. We develop 35mm, 120 medium format rolls and even ‘super-pro’ 5x4 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 and wash. We even mix the final ‘photo-flow’ rinse with de-ionised water to prevent drying marks and give a perfect finish. During the critical development stage, particular care is taken with time, temperature and agitation to allow for different film brands and types. Push/Pull options are also available for speed adjustment if required. Once the ‘wet’ stages are complete, films are gently air dried, hand cut and clear sleeved in 6's for filing and storage.

Q. Will my negatives be printed using traditional methods?

A. Yes - our hand printing darkroom is specially equipped for black and white film processing and printing using Ilford and Kodak print materials and chemistry. Our expertly crafted prints are made by hand and produced on DeVere or Leitz optical enlargers with Nikon and Rodenstock lenses to deliver that indefinable quality only achieved with real silver prints. Each print is accurately 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 dust spots.

Q. Can I hire your darkroom - perhaps with tuition?

A.Certainly - you can hire one of our 4 fully equipped darkrooms to make your own analogue black and white prints on a full or half-day basis at very reasonable rates. You can choose either dishes for processing your prints or use our super-efficient Ilfolab 2150 automatic table-top processor which delivers 'dry-to-dry' prints upto 20x16 inches in just 80 seconds! There is also a special 2-hour session available for film processing using our dark loading area, Patterson tank system and including Rodinal developer. Expert one-to-one tuition is also available with our senior tutor Dave Champion. You can choose full or half-day sessions or arrange a planned course of lessons if required. Option for 2 person tuition session by special arrangement.

Q. Can you scan my films or individual negs and convert to digital files?

A. Yes, it's a popular service.  To complement our traditional black & white processing, we offer high resolution film scanning for both full-roll or individual frames. We use high-end Nikon 8000ED and Imacon Flextite scanners to provide optimum resolution and image quality from 35mm, 120 medium format and even 5x4 sheet film. We also offer Photoshop enhancement and/or manipulation if required and once you are happy with the image, for real visual impact, we can produce beautiful exhibition quality poster prints up to A0 poster size . We use the latest Epson Ultrachrome ink technology with print profiles optimised for the monochrome image. 

Q. Can you restore my old or damaged photographs?

A. Yes - this is another popular request. Our Photoshop specialist Jonathan Williams studied digital and analogue photography at both Central St. Martins School of Art and Design and the London School of Photography. He has a keen interest in photo-digital techniques and has several years experience in photo editing and image manipulation. He is able to apply his creativity and expertise to enhance old or damaged photographs to provide restoration in either period style or full colourisation if required.

Q. Are your processing and printing charges reasonable?

A. We think so and we certainly aim to be competitive on all our black and white services. What's more, if you register and subscribe as one of our regular customers, you will not only receive an introductory discount but you will also benefit from special offers throughout the year with our newsletter.

Q. Can I call you for advice?

A. With pleasure - we are always happy to offer advice or guidance to help with your analogue photography and processing needs. Just phone 020 7624 2244 or email - we’re sure you’ll find the answers right here at Black & White Basement.

Q. Where can I find you - can I send work by mail order?

A. We’re conveniently located in leafy St. John’s Wood, North West London – close to the famous Abbey Road Studios and Lord’s Cricket Ground. We're just a few minutes 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 during their visit. We welcome both personal callers and mail order customers. Click here for map and full address.

Q. How do I pay for your services?

A. We're happy to take payment by Cheque, BACS or PayPal - cash is also accepted.

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