Silver halide has been used in photographic film and paper for over 150 years and remains a vital ingredient found in all high-quality products. Silver halide crystals in gelatin form part of an emulsion which is used to coat the paper or film. On exposure to light (i.e. in a camera or darkroom), the crystals react turning into silver and forming the image.

Silver halide prints

There are many ways to produce black & white prints with options varying in quality. Traditional black & white silver halide prints have been used in museums, galleries, exhibitions and homes around the world and continue to offer the best quality options for printing.

  • Real silver black & white images have a timeless quality that cannot be matched. There are also a range of creative techniques that can be used to make prints more personal and distinctive. Silver halide offers better control of image tone making it the perfect platform for creative image making.
  • Each silver image hand made in a darkroom is unique. Genuine high-quality black & white prints are highly sought after for the distinctive look and interpretation they bring to a subject. They can enhance their merit artistically and give prints a higher intrinsic value.
  • Silver halide is predictable, reliable and stable giving prints more permanence. In other words, they are less likely to change tone with time and age.

Using colour paper to make black & white prints

Colour films and papers can be used to make black & white prints. However, there are disadvantages in doing so and you risk compromising the quality of the final image.

  • Firstly, it is not possible to make a true black & white image using colour paper. ‘Black’, produced from a mixture of dyes varies in colour depending on the lighting in which it is viewed. This is because of a phenomenon called 'metamerism' where ‘black’ which looks black in daylight will look greenish in tungsten light.
  • Even if a reasonably neutral tone is achieved for a monochrome image on a colour paper, there is often a shift in image tone as the print is displayed or as, inevitably, the dye fades with age. For a full colour print this shift is normally insignificant and goes largely unnoticed. The eye is much more sensitive to these sorts of changes if the image is a monochrome one and so even a small shift in colour, due to fading of the dyes, can have a major effect on the print’s look, attractiveness and acceptability.

Find out more about our range of traditional silver black & white papers as well as picking the perfect paper for you.