Black and white custom processing and printing is both a craft and an art. We at Gamma find pride in the craft and joy in the art. We are a custom lab that is small enough to offer a person to person relationship with the client, yet large enough to handle volume work.
Since 1975, we have been doing this work because it is what we love. While the world of photography goes more and more digital, we have elected to concentrate on the traditional processes of the wet darkroom.
We believe in hand processing of roll film in small tanks and tray processing of sheet film because there are so many wonderful combinations of film and developer that are impossible to achieve with machine processing.
Custom enlarging allows the skill of the printer to mesh with that of the shooter. If it is true, as Ansel Adams said, that the negative is like a musical score and the print like the performance, then we are photographic musicians.
A wide range of films and film developers is still available to us today, a
range that allows for many exciting combinations. In order to make the
fullest use of that range, we process roll film on Nikkor reels in small
tanks by hand.
For sheet film, we have created our own development system that allows for tray processing without the danger of scratched film. 4 x 5 and 8 x 10 sheets of film are attached to rigid rectangles of plastic by means of metal hoops. The film is held at each corner so that it does not move as the chemicals in the tray flow evenly over the emulsion. One advantage of this system is that sheet film can be printed from edge to edge without showing the clip marks that would be seen with dip and dunk processes. For sheets larger than 8 x 10, we tray process the film one sheet at a time.
|Fred Stimson||Mark Whiteley|
The art of the gelatin silver fine print is essentially a quest. It is a search for that ephemeral perfection that one feels is just beyond ones reach. There are many paths toward that goal, many techniques that can help us find the perfect print for each negative. In addition to the more common techniques such as the choice of paper, burning, dodging and cropping, there are others such as diffusion, bleaching and toning which can add to the impact made by the fine print.We offer three tiers of printing to fit the needs of different photographers.
We crop, burn and dodge to create a good quality print.
We spend additional time to bring out the subtleties of a great print. Diffusion and highlight bleaching are included as appropriate. Selenium toning for archival permanence is included.
We create the ultimate print. We work with you one-on-one to meet even the most exacting requirements.
|Margaretta Mitchell||Fred Stimson|
|Joe Dellert||Merideth Grierson|
The visual and emotional impact of black & white photography is greatly increased with the addition of color. We specialize in hand coloring and
chemical toning with selenium, sepia, gold, red, blue, copper, polysulfide and thiocarbamide.
Toning can add to the archival life of a print. The grains of silver in a gelatin silver print bond easily with elements in the atmosphere. The brownish spots sometimes seen on older black and white prints show the reaction of silver with hydrogen sulfide to form silver sulfide. This reaction, when controlled, is the same process we call sepia toning. The most common archival toner, selenium, reacts with the silver to form silver selenide.
Creating these chemical bonds reduces the possibility that the silver in the print will randomly combine with other atmospheric elements. This greatly increases the chemical stability of the print.
For this reason, we include selenium toning on all our exhibition quality prints.
|Margaretta Mitchell||Tricia Donnelly||Peter Fairfield|
For many years, photographers had no choice but to create black & white images. The techniques they used include paper negatives, daguerrotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes and glass negatives. Today, the printabilty of these artifacts varies widely. Our familiarity with all these materials is essential to our success in working with older images.
Institutions using our services include:
National Park Service
California Historical Society
Society of California Pioneers
History Center, San Francisco Public Library
San Francisco State University Labor Archives
|Photo courtesy of Alex Deleuse||Photo courtesy National Park Service|
The Historic American Building Survey - Historic American Engineering Record is a program created to document structures and sites of particular historic significance. Creation of such a record is often legally required when changes to an historic structure are contemplated. Because of the proven archival qualities of properly processed black & white sheet film and selenium toned black & white paper, the archives that hold such records, such as the Library of Congress, require the use of the techniques in which we specialize.
For more information, go to nps.gov
|Brian Grogan||Frank Deras|