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Thread: A Lab to process ULF Film

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    A Lab to process ULF Film

    I was wondering if there are any photolabs in LA or San Francisco that might be able to process ultra large format black and white film as a kind of custom order.

    This would be either 12x20 or 16x20.

    I have access to a very large process camera at a small-town newspaper in central California. I would like to use it to take portraits. I posted about this recently. I've decided against using lithographic film because it's too slow, especially with the very narrow depth of field I'd get shooting a 19" lens wide open. So I'm thinking of using a fast black & white film [tmax 400 or hp5] and a strobe light set on full power.

    A wall bisects the camera [I said it was big] and the rear of the camera opens into it's own dark room. The camera has a vaccum powered back that will hold the film in place. I'll have to do this in total darkness but I'm used to leading film in my changing tent so I think it's doable.

    The problem is that I'm a near total novice when it comes to the darkroom. I mostly shoot color, and this is really kind of a one-off project. I'll only have access to this camera for another month so I'm wondering if I can shoot these negatives and then find some lab that will process them for me. I'm located near Fresno so LA or SF are the logical spots.

    Any suggestions are appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Thomas

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Re: A Lab to process ULF Film

    I should add that I am also playing around with using 4x5 film. Since the copy camera has vaccum powered back I'm also going to try laying out sheets of 4x5 film in a 3x4 grid to make a 12x20 grid. I even bought a developing tank, mostly so I don't have to drive 3 hours to LA or san Francisco.

    I don't want to appear sacreligious to all the darkroom artisans out there.

  3. #3
    Big Negs Rock!
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
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    Pasadena
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    1,120

    Re: A Lab to process ULF Film

    I used to work with one of these cameras. There should be developing trays around. And the process isn't hard. Just search the site and pick you film and shoot some tests. In some ways the lighting is more important than the exact developing time. There is some leeway in that where you can use VC paper.

    Sounds like fun!
    Mark Woods

    Large Format B&W
    Cinematography Mentor at the American Film Institute
    Past President of the Pasadena Society of Artists
    Director of Photography
    Pasadena, CA
    www.markwoods.com

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Kihei, HI
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    Re: A Lab to process ULF Film

    Gamma in SF is probably the only lab that could handle that. Your other option would be to call RayKo in SF and see if you can hire one of their instructors or artists to process it per consultation. They certainly have the equipment to handle 20x24.

  5. #5
    Tri Tran's Avatar
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    Montreal , Canada. Los Angeles, California
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    Re: A Lab to process ULF Film

    I suggest you to contact Tracy. He's in Berkeley.
    http://www.mammothcamera.com/contact.html

  6. #6

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    Re: A Lab to process ULF Film

    Hi,

    Just an update to this post. I ended up processing the negatives at Gamma. They charged me their hourly rate and let me sit in on the whole process. It was fun, informative and educational. They're great guys and I'd recommend them without hesitation. I also contacted Tracy and he was also willing to processing the film.

    I also processed a few myself and, honestly, it wasn't that hard. If you have the darkroom space and big trays it's not difficult. My main issue was having a dust-free space to dry the negatives. I didn't have one and Gamma did.

    If you're curious, here are the results:

    http://www.thomaslockehobbs.com/sentinel/

    I haven't linked to this from my main page yet as I need to write some texts to accompany the series and post various contextual photos, not to mention the "behind the scenes" video I shot. However, in summary, it is a series of portraits of the employees of a small town newspaper taken with the process camera that is still used to produce the newspaper. The digitizations were done simply by photographing the negatives on a lightable.

    Thanks for all the suggestions.
    Thomas

    -t

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