Large prints, small trays

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Toffle, Feb 10, 2009.

  1. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    On a whim I picked up a packet of 11 x 14 paper to try some (slightly) larger prints, knowing full well that my largest trays are for 8 x 10. I used something of a "wallpaper" technique to immerse the paper in the developer, stop and fix. My first impression... 11 x 14 is a lot larger than 8 x 10. The results were better than I had any right to hope, so I don't feel any need to rush out and buy larger trays just yet. Besides, my darkroom table can't handle trays much larger than what I have already.

    My question... in lieu of proper trays in a cramped darkroom, is it practical to use actual wallpaper trays to process prints? Does anyone else process their larger prints this way? I'm pretty sure my enlarger in its current configuration would max out at aroung 12 x 16, but I'm suddenly getting dreams of much larger prints. (I'm curious to see how my setup would look with the enlarger head in horizontal position. :D ) I'm sure it would be considered bad practice by some, and I am interested in your opinions, as it will help me make an informed decision on the matter.

    Cheers,
     
  2. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I guess it's easy enough if the wallpaper trays are long enough to accomodate the paper along one dimension. Then it would be a simple matter of "seesawing" the print back and forth through the chemistry.

    But let me make another suggestion. 11x14 trays needn't be that big. I use the flat bottomed variety made by Cesco. Like you, I have limited space in the darkroom for trays, and three of these side by side would eat up the entire shelf on wet side of my darkroom. I found that something like this works pretty well. Of course, you can build one pretty easily of PVC plumbing and save yourself the case.
     
  3. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Tom,

    For prints in the 11 x 14 to 20 x 24 range, it would probably be preferable to set up some kind of stacked arrangement for your trays. There are commercially-available devices which do this, but any reasonably handy person could also make his own. Using the wallpaper trays is certainly an option and has been done successfully by some, usually for considerably larger prints. It's a little tricky (and often messy) to handle sheets of paper larger than 16 x 20 with wallpaper trays, but it's definitely doable. An easier option, especially with RC paper, is a simple processing drum, the type originally made for making color prints, and a motor base.

    Konical
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2009
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Tom:

    I've used the drums, and they work well.

    Single tray processing works well as well.

    Large cat litter pans are just barely large enough to use as trays for 11x14, and they are cheap. If you have two of them, and one shallower tray, you can squeeze all three on to a pretty small space.

    Matt
     
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    Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Just checked... litter box fits 11 x 14 just fine. (here, kitty kitty... :D )

    Also checked... I have two wallpaper trays in the garage, one 24", the other 36"... so I'm not ruling that out if I ever try really big prints. (It's not like I'm going to be doing any great number of them.)

    Question: I'm a little uncertain how the stacked arrangement of trays works. Are the trays in something of a cascade or pyramid formation? If not, how easy is it to manoeuver prints into and out of trays in the vertical configuration?

    I think one reason I'm attracted to the larger prints is I'm looking forward to the time some ink-jet photographer asks me where I found such a great printer. :D

    Cheers,
     
  6. analogsnob

    analogsnob Member

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    Stacked trays are held over oneanother with the tray below being 4 or so inches out from the one above in a stair step fashion. Developer usually on top and print moved down the rack by sliding it into the part of the next tray that sticks out. The stack holder can be made of wood or pvc pipe. The commercial ones were coated steel.
    Any size tray can be made by making a simple 1x4 frame and laying some thick (6mil) polyethelene into the frame. Make sure that ample amounts of plastic stick out over the edges of the frame. Most of the time these frames sit on the floor. Not real convienient or fancy but it works.
     
  7. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I usually work mine from the bottom up. In my setup, the lowest tray is further away from the safelight and shaded by the other two trays. If I were to use the top tray, the developing sheet of paper would be closer than the minimum recommended distance from the safelight, and might pick up a little fog. I haven't tested this, but since it is easy enough to avoid the problem completely, this is what I do.
     
  8. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    For big prints (16x20 and one time a 20x24), I go to school, where they have a very cool method set up in the private (and small) litho room. They have a single stainless tray on a rack above the sink with a butterfly valve and drain tube welded into one corner. The other corners of the tray are shimmed just enough to direct the drainage toward the corner with the drain. You drain your chemicals into 5 L bottles, rinse with a hose, and pour the next chemical in. There is another stainless tray for use as a holding tank that straddles the sink until you are ready to hypo clear everything and then move it into the wash next door. 8x10 trays are set up as well for test trips. Not the greatest method, I am sure, but it is resourceful, and works.
     
  9. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    I use wallpaper trays for 16X20. The see-saw method works well as long as you are careful not to kink the paper. The wallpaper trays also use a lot less solution than conventional trays. I use the shorter trays since they are easier to handle when full.
     
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    Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    All very good ideas... which generally proves that essentially any system, with appropriate testing, will work. I think that if it looks like I will get into large prints on more than a casual basis, I will opt for the stair-step stacked trays. I've got a couple of nice prints... I just have nowhere to put them. :rolleyes: (My wife told me tonight... very nicely, mind you, that we have enough photographs on our walls... )

    Cheers,
     
  11. MarkL

    MarkL Subscriber

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  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    He mentions all the reasons why I like the system at school that I mentioned earlier. Glad to hear we are not the only ones doing this!
     
  13. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    You too. :smile: I've noticed bookshelves and furniture get in the way as well.

    I picked up some drums for colur work, they are excellent. Still have to find a nice neg for a 16x20 b&w print to try the big drum with my stash of agfa paper, but have been way to busy playing with colour printing.
     
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  15. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    I haven't been told by 'Er Indoors but it just comes down to basic Physics that I've run out of wall space. Saves on wallpapering, though.

    Steve
     
  16. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    If you have the room, this works well.
    Years ago my brother and I made some 30 X 50 prints for a job he had. We made frames from 2X4's lined with Visqueen sheet. Used a Golde slide projector for an enlarger, projected on the paper taped to the basement wall. After processing we just used a hose to wash the prints on the floor near the floor drain. Did this at night so we didn't have to cover the basement windows.
     
  17. donbga

    donbga Member

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    No!
     
  18. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    Does anyone know of a commercial source for a tray ladder? I'm not very good at making things.
     
  19. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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  20. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    YES!

    I do it all the time. So did Ansel Adams.
     
  21. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    You might also look at making, or buying, a slot processor. I couldn't afford the Nova on, but made a whole set of 6 vertical trays (11x14) out of plexiglass. They work great, and all 6 take up less space than 3 8x10 trays.
     
  22. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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    I have a cramped space to work in so I have been using one tray when I work with 16x20 or 20x24 prints. One tray and three, 2 litre pitchers of chemistry saves a lot of space. Those large trays are ridiculously expensive, too!
     
  23. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Andrew:

    16x20 trays aren't too badly priced ($20.00 USD or so) for the basic trays at Glazer's in Seattle.

    The really nice trays there are twice the price, but I was tempted...

    I figure that if good trays save me a sheet of paper each printing session, then in a year ...

    Matt
     
  24. David Brown

    David Brown Member

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    :smile:

    I'm always amused at folks who want to print large, and are willing to pay for the paper and chemicals, but not willing to buy the necessary tools (trays, etc.). It's a false economy.
     
  25. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    One tray will do. Start to finish. The trick is to use very dilute
    chemistry combined with minimal solution volumes. One tray
    processing is similar to tube processing. The chemistry may
    be used one-shot. Being very dilute little is wasted. Dan
     
  26. OP
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    Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    ...and I would agree with you 99% of the time. But sometimes you have the sudden urge to try something new and have to make accomodations with what you have. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but in the end you have gained new skills and knowledge. (and maybe some stunning new prints to hang on your walls)

    For me, I have decided that really big prints are not viable until I relocate my darkroom out of the spare bedroom and into the basement, (accessible only via a trap door in the kitchen) where I can set up a proper darkroom with true wet and dry sides and a sink instead of lugging jugs of water in for every printing session. (and maybe a nice 4x5 enlarger... :smile: ) If I had waited until I made this move to try larger prints, it would be a long time before I felt this printing excitement and the inspiration to make more and better prints.

    Cheers,