PHOTOGRAPHERS. Just as audiophiles still appreciate the way music sounds on vinyl records, many lovers of fine photography agree that classic black-and-white silver-gelatin prints have a look that digital photo printing methods just can’t match. But advances in digital photography have threatened the existence of the time-honored process of making silver gelatin prints.
One company striving to keep silver gelatin printing alive is Digital Silver Imaging in Belmont, Massachussets. Their hybrid digltal/analog printing process gives you the control of a digital photography workflow with the distinctive beauty of classic darkroom prints
Now, Digital Silver Imaging (DSI) is conducting a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a processor that will enable them to make bigger prints. The processor they want to install will enable DSI to make real silver gelatin photo prints up to 4 x 8 feet from digital files. Their goal is to raise $45,000 by May 17, 2013.
Contributors can qualify for three types of rewards: black-and-white silver gelatin prints on resin-coated or fiber papers from your digital files; high-resolution scans; or signed, collectible back-and-white photographs.
For one top-level contributor, DSI is offering a limited-edition portfolio of Led Zeppelin photographs signed by photographer Herb Greene. The collection includes eighteen 18 x 22-inch silver gelatin fiber prints in a custom, handmade embossed box. The prints show the young Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones in Herb’s studio in San Francisco in 1969.
DSI’s Hybrid Digital/Analog Process
DSI currently uses a 20-inch photographic laser enlarger to expose digital files on Ilford photographic black- and-white silver gelatin paper. No film or negatives are required. Once exposed, the light-sensitive black-and-white photo paper is processed in traditional photo chemicals to create beautiful, neutral tone, archival prints.
The printing process uses real silver, not color dyes or inks. The prints show great detail and separation in shadow areas, and are always neutral. They can be chemically toned with selenium or sepia to enhance permanence.
DSI founder Eric Luden says photographers have been asking for larger print ever since the lab opened in 2008. A new processor and exposure unit will allow DSI to provide this service.
“We have already invested funds to build a darkroom for the digital enlarger and contracted a firm to start building the print processor,” says Luden. “We need additional funds to pay for the equipment, transportation across the country, installation, calibration and setup.”
Luden reminds potential donors that “Your contribution will provide real silver gelatin black-and-white prints for years to come.”