The Darkroom – Film processing service

Untitled (Entanglement #2) expired (1983) Illford FP4, photographed May 2023 copyright Douglas Stockdale –

In my last article I discussed how using really, really expired 40 year old film might create some unexpected outcomes. In my tech notes, what I did not state was that this roll of black and white film was processed by The Darkroom, a local photo lab in San Clemente (California). My usually photo lab in Irvine does not usually process and scan black and white film and when they do, with its with the caveat that they send it out and it just might be a while before I see the results. So since this color lab sends it out I might as well go direct to the source and drastically improve my turn around time. Done!

My first roll that I sent The Darkroom a couple of years ago needed a +2 development since I was shooting FP4 thinking it was HP5, so it was underexposed by a couple of stops. They did an acceptable job and they have continued to be on my radar for black and white film processing ever since. It’s that I just don’t use much black and white film, so I do not use their services very frequently. And I use such small amounts of black and white film, I also do not feel the need to develop it myself if someone else can provide an adequate push and pull development. Plus, processing film is pretty dreary work and not very inspiring, as it pretty straight forward mechanics. The only caveat is if I felt the need to return to Kodac’s HC-110 film developer to maybe coax a little bit more out of a negative. Nevertheless, with film scanning, Photoshop post processing and inkjet printing, I can achieve almost everything I need.

This lab since COVID is not mail-order only, which I did not realize until last week when I drove down and found the big sign posted on their door. Crap. So I had to drive back to the studio, stuff the film in a padded envelop and then drive to the post office. In a few days, an email confirm that the film was received and a week later, another email with the scans and a couple days after that, the developed negatives arrived. Sweet.

The photo above is one of the few full frames that was not impacted when the 120 back on my Hasselblad jammed due to this expired film. This image was captured using my 80mm Zeiss Planar lens with a Bay-50 Yellow filter, which did the trick to slightly darken the blue sky. Also on my short list for creating a digital contact negative for cyanotype printing. fun, fun, fun.

So bottom line, I can recommend The Darkroom for your black and white film development, and they can also process your color neg and transparency film as well. I have never had them print anything for me, but if they can provide well processed and clean negatives, I am guessing they can handle printing equally well.

Make every day an Earth Day



 The Flow of Light Brushes the Shadow, an artist book from Singular Images Press, Fall 2022 release, $60.00 (CA sales tax for those residing in the USA) plus shipping expenses. Message me or singularimagespress@gmail for shipping details and PayPal invoice.

Note: The Artist Special Edition (book + extra print) is Sold Out.


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