By Colin Jago, Photostream on auspiciousdragon.net
I’ve just come back from a tour of the Ilford factory. It was a full and long day, and something that you shouldn’t pass on if the opportunity comes your way. In fact, it might be that Ilford will do more tours in the future if asked...so get on over to APUG and search on "ilford tour" and look out for the name Simon Galley from Ilford. And ask.
We got to see the film and paper making process from end to end (hint: obvious when you think about it, but a lot of this happens in the dark...you get given a dinky little safelight torch). We met the great and the good, but also had phenomenal access to engineering, scientfic and technical staff. They even made a strip of film in the light on their research machine to make sure we had seen everything. Brilliant.
Others (there are bound to be reports on APUG) will be better qualified than me to comment on the technical side of things, so I’ll restrict my observations on that to the idea that the first silver plates were made by pouring light senstive emulsion onto a receiving surface from a teapot that just happened to pour right. All the big film companies have done in the 150 or so years since is design better teapots. Ilford’s teapot isn’t the biggest in the world, and therein lies one of the things that interested me. Their business, and their survivability....