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Last of the Black-and-White Labs?

At a wedding in Santa Fe last weekend I had a nice chat with the photographer while I was raiding the hors d’oeuvres table. I rarely attempt to befriend wedding photographers, but this guy was shooting film with a couple of Nikon N90s. Not quite as retro as someone I met two years ago who used Nikon F2s (mid-Cretaceous, I believe), but retro enough.

I was kind of surprised to see that he was shooting real silver black-and-white film (Delta and Neopan 400) instead of the chromogenic stuff and was curious how he developed it. He admitted somewhat sheepishly that he had a lab do it for him, and I feigned horror. He agreed that it wasn’t ideal, especially since the lab develops all emulsions for the same time. It didn’t strike me until much later how odd it was talking about having a lab develop black-and-white film. I sort of assumed that you couldn’t have black-and-white developed commercially anymore, especially in a town as small as Santa Fe.

It was also nice to see clients requesting black-and-white. I guess it will never go completely out of style. I’m sure it’s a common practice to print digital color originals as black-and-white or use chromogenic film, but I doubt many wedding photographers these days produce their black-and-white prints from silver negatives.

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