A First for Fiber
Dubois still can’t get over the quality of the prints: "Our RC black-and-white prints from digital files are pretty fantastic, but even we were blown away by the first black-and-white fiber prints we made from digital files. They are stunning and absolutely unrivalled anywhere. These prints simply glow. The whites sparkle, the grays are velvety, and the blacks are deep and rich. They have unbelievable depth. We knew the DeVere/Ilford/San Miguel combination would bear good fruit, but even we were simply amazed at the quality of the final results. At last, digital photographers can get truly awesome black and white."
What Dubois didn’t foresee were the amount of prints being requested on fiber paper. "We didn’t expect the huge number of orders we’ve been getting for digital fiber prints," he said. He reported that about 40 percent of digital files the lab receives are printed onto fiber paper. In addition, he said that they are seeing more large-sized print orders: "20 x 24–inch prints are becoming popular. We sold more 20 x 24–inch prints this past January from digital than we had in all our years processing film."
The lab still hasn’t forgotten its film clients, either. "Our digital services are simply a way for us to offer the same custom printing services to digital photographers that we’ve been offering to film shooters all along," Dubois said. "But as long as they make film, we’ll process and print it. Either way, film or digital, we’ll be here for the black-and-white photographer."
In order to get a better handle on the future digital photography workflow, the lab purchased a Canon Digital Rebel SLR. "In the past we have always provided technical help to our photographers, who looked to us for guidance with technical problems with film or their cameras," he said. "Now that we’ve mastered the darkroom end of digital, we are committed to learning as much as possible about digital from the photographer’s side so that our customers can look to us for help and guidance as they make their digital transition."