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Black & White Printing at Whitewall


A multi-award-winning photo laboratory, Whitewall places the mastery and finesse of black and white printing at the heart of its work. After ten years developing monochrome prints, in 2023 the company introduced ultra-HD sharpness for black and white prints. Photographer Benjamin Rullier was able to test this new top-of-the-range service for a series of images alternating portraits and urban landscapes printed on baryta paper.

In a large, carefully-packaged, dedicated parcel, the prints are protected from the hazards of shipping. When you open the box, you can immediately feel the attention paid to the photography and the respect shown to the images. Each print, isolated and stored between sheets, is protected by a transparent film. The depth and finesse of the photos are immediately striking. These medium-format silver prints take on a special dimension. The degree of detail is striking on the faces, particularly on two 40×50 formats printed on genuine Ilford 315 g/m² baryta paper, which reveals a subtle depth of grey on the skin of the subjects photographed. The light satin finish of the baryta paper, its deep blacks and its density give the images scale. My main fears about the management of the dark tones that surround one of the faces were quickly allayed, and I was overwhelmed by the delicacy and attention given to these portraits.

In this series devoted to a priority neighbourhood undergoing demolition, two grey architectures make up a second diptych, printed in 25×31.2 format. Trying to preserve softness and shades of grey in my photographs, I notice that, even in the dark areas, the shapes continued to exist. I’m particularly pleased with another image, deliberately underexposed and featuring a wild plant growing against the wall of an abandoned building. The plant’s dark, almost disquieting interior is revealed in a new way.

The last triptych, showing figures at a distance, was printed in 15×18.7 format, showing that white was also mastered in the print. A light shutter framing a figure’s face does not suffocate the subject, the sky in the background of another image remains soft, and the whole is impressively sharp. The overall quality and homogeneity of the images met all my expectations. The precision of the prints is striking, and the quality of the paper and the attention paid to the prints make it an ideal ally for setting the scene and magnifying the images.

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