Large silver gelatin enlargements - still possible?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by William Crow, Feb 26, 2018.

  1. William Crow

    William Crow Member

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    In my town, decades ago, there was a photo lab that had a gigantic enlarger on a horizontal track that could travel maybe 20 to 30 feet (maybe more) away from the surface - the wall - where the printing paper would be placed?
    Then some years later, in New Orleans I saw my first show of Helmut Newton's work. The prints were enormous, some maybe 6 feet tall. Others, 3x3 or 4x4. They were done on fiber base silver gelatin paper. And not flattened. They had some curl to them. A wonderful, powerful show.

    Do any labs still exist that can do this type of enlarging? What kind of enlarger would handle it?

    (Later I saw another show of his and one by Annie Leibovitz in New York that were ink jetted and pressed onto foam core - very flat. Much less impressive. Not as powerful. The prints might have even been ink jet prints ...Oops, "Giclee"...got to sound artsy.)

    (I hope I have the right thread to post to. I'm getting a big red warning this is for analog workflow. I assume this is the enlarging area I'm posting to.)
     
  2. Truzi

    Truzi Member

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    I can't answer your question (and would love to see enlargements that big), but you're in the right area. The warning is just a reminder so people can make sure they are posting in the right area. The software can't get context, so simply looks for words . Your magic words were giclee and ink jet, but you are not talking about them.
     
  3. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    The same kind of enlarger that handled it back then!

    I think Kienzle has some horizontal enlargers on their website. I know Durst made them as well. A lot of horizontal enlargers are custom through. There are some vids on YouTube of Ansel's darkroom that shows his enlarger. Also look for one on Clyde Butcher's darkroom. He has a custom one as well. You can see him actually using it.

    Your limitation these days might be paper size. I don't know what size papers are still available. I'm sure someone will chime in on that.
     
  4. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    Isn't gelatin silver paper still available in rolls of 4 or 5 foot widths?
     
  5. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Member

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    Yes, B&H shows Ilford FB paper in rolls as wide as 56" and RC as wide as 50".
     
  6. MultiFormat Shooter

    MultiFormat Shooter Member

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    LTI Lightside in New York still does optically printed enlargements up to 50" x 84" but the mural size ones can get fairly expensive (at least to me).
     
  7. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    I'm not sure about whether there are many labs in the world able to do wet printing that big any more, mainly because they probably wouldn't have roller transport processors big enough. I have used a couple of these 254mm by 254mm horizontal enlargers, plus one of their smaller siblings. 15 minutes to say 20-25 minutes for some of the exposures of the biggest enlargements is where you can easily be. More so if you are burning in; ½ a stop more exposure of 10 minutes, is 5 minutes; get the idea?

    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=horizontal+enlarger&client=firefox-b&dcr=0&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=wBWLBAVXq2PkJM%3A%2CiF5inTjbOgPpGM%2C_&usg=__eiN8-opR23xyVW5zhQo676BAkLI=&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiG6s_HrMXZAhWBerwKHejdBjoQ9QEIKTAA#imgdii=TUd8CA-8m7SkRM:&imgrc=wBWLBAVXq2PkJM:

    As for paper and stuff. Back in the day (30 + years ago) Ilford only did B&W resin coated paper in 1.2m wide rolls. Kodak did colour paper up to 1.8m wide, widest in the world I know of. Our colour paper processor was 50mm wider than the paper. When doing the largest print possible, which was 1.8m wide by 6m long, it was always a challenge in complete darkness to get the paper threading straight. As for getting the paper stuck correctly on the wall in complete darkness, you don't wan to know.......................

    Running a big roller transport paper processor can be expensive; anything over 1.2m wide and you are starting to get into ever diminishing returns. Unless of course you are pushing serious amounts of paper through the machine, something I doubt is economically feasible these days.

    Mick.
     
  8. Richard Man

    Richard Man Member

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    In the SF Photofairs this last weekend, there were a couple 4x5 feet silver prints from Mitch Eppstein. A couple years ago, in the Avedon show in Philly, there were a few 6x8'? or larger silver prints.
     
  9. AgX

    AgX Member

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    1.8m x 5m:
    https://grieger.com/analogue-photographic-printing/

    But how many customers do they have for such optical enlargements?
    Grieger had established themselves as lab for the photo art-world. What set them apart amongst the mass of photo-printers. But such enlargement work is a niche within a niche. And that did not prevent the lab to go into insolvency a year ago. However in short time it was sold to a britisch publishing house, and went on with reduced staff (25 out of 35).



    Even as such equipment has been written off and the personnel may be used for other tasks, the rent for the space that large format exposing and processing requires goes on.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  10. AgX

    AgX Member

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    De Vere, Durst, Homrich, Kienzle come to my mind
     
  11. Bob Carnie

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    Micheal Wesik has made a personal lab to make super large silver gelatin prints, he was a frequent poster here, I am not sure if he still does the work, but going by his investment in equipment I think he is.

    I make 30 x40 Silver Gelatin Prints with enlarger, and have made 30 x72 inch silver gelatins from my lambda, just recently for Larry Towell's show here in Toronto.
    In the future I plan to mack out my studio to be able to make super large prints, but I have to say that once someone finds out how expensive the process is to make these large murals , they get cold feet pretty fast.
    I was making a lot of 30 x40 prints for Will Murray last couple of years on Art 300 so that he can paint overtop of them.

    What one needs is space, super sized sinks, and a good budget to work from, every once in awhile I get all three... I hope one day to make a very large print project using 11 x14 film on my Devere 11 x14 enlarger, I hope 40 x50 size, my goal is to pick a subject matter and style that would work for my own work.
    Will I ever do super size.. Yes but the right project has to come with the right budget.
     
  12. tedr1

    tedr1 Member

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    MODERNAGE Labs in NYC lists 48 x 96 inch fiber based prints at $990 each. They also claim a mural service unlimited in size. Dead Link Removed at the foot of the homepage is the link to the catalog.
     
  13. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Thats a very good price for that size of print..
     
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  15. vdonovan

    vdonovan Member

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    It's not hard to make large or mural-sized prints yourself. As noted above, mural-sized silver gelatin paper is readily available. Many enlargers are designed so they can turn to point at the floor or a distant wall. Process the paper in wallpaper troughs. With practice and patience you can get good results.
     
  16. AgX

    AgX Member

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    At the moment they got a quite enigmatic ad just saying:
    "Fine Art Full Size - International Art Services"
     
  17. chris77

    chris77 Subscriber

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    +1
    build your own trays.
     
  18. AgX

    AgX Member

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    These are completely unknown here. I never saw such and I just looked at the portfolio of a major german DIY store, nothing.
    Best similarity got balcony flower trays, though one would have to close their dripping holes.

    In the good old days here a tray made from PVC rain gutter profile was advised. Alse there was a costly tray system for rewind processing with a cranked spindles assembly that could be moved from tray to tray, made by a french manufacturer.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  19. M Carter

    M Carter Member

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    I've seen youtube videos of people processing mural paper in stainless troughs, they looked like maybe 3 or 4' wide by 12" high and deep, just an open top. The thing is, the videos I've seen, the paper still gets washed in a very big, open stainless tray - i don't think you can efficiently wash fiber paper in a trough?

    I expect to get a mural roll before the year is out; I'll probably make a plywood tray that's waterproofed, with a bucket drain and also a wash drain to the plumbing. I've had good luck in the past using a camera flash to "light" an enlarger condenser bulb for stronger exposure, too. Anyway, I lie awake and think about this stuff until I've mentally done it a hundred times...

    ...and I have a Rodenstock "G" lens, maybe the toughest part of this stuff.
     
  20. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    We had students make mural prints every semester. I turned around a couple D5-XL enlargers w/ 135mm lenses, and the students would expose the paper on the floor. Mostly 4x5 negatives, print size 40" or 42" (depending on the paper I'd buy) by about 60". Developed and fixed in troughs we made (plywood and paint). The paper was see-sawed through the troughs -- a student on each end of the sheet of paper.
     
  21. Arthurwg

    Arthurwg Subscriber

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    We made some large "mural" prints at ICP back in the day. The enlarger projected onto the floor and we used custom-made stainless troughs, with two people working together to roll the paper back and forth. Results were very good. We were also told that the prints could be developed by laying them flat in the sink and sponging developer on them. The prints were not washed in a trough but in the sink I believe.

    I think Avedon's large prints in a recent show were done at Modernage, but the guy who did the printing wasn't staff. He subsequently was sued by Alvedon's estate when he claimed that his agreement with Alvedon involved him keeping a set of those prints. No idea how that was resolved.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  22. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I am completely set up with two enlarger stations and wet trays to do 30 x40's , I love making big prints from the two extremes, 35mm - 24 x36 where the trix grain is perfect, and 8x10 FP4 in PMK where the tonalities are smooth , smooth, smooth.

    One of my goals is to get a 11 x14 camera and do a series of scenes of my home town Toronto, and make some silver murals enlargements to the highest level of craftsmanship I can, I hope to start this project in late 2019 as I am in progress of moving my location
    to a live work setup that I hope to finish my career in and this will consume me for the next year. This move will allow me at least one day a week to consider capturing this project and the timeline allows me to scout areas that I feel are significant.
     
  23. msage

    msage Subscriber

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    Yes, the only limiting factor is how big paper you can get.
     
  24. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    DeVille Bobinor - superb bit of kit & a great deal cheaper than any of the automated machines that can handle paper that wide - & it can deal with FB easily which the machines can't.
     
  25. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    The 'secret' is to use a scrolling negative holder (Durst Negateil 1800) and expose individual 50" strips on the same hanging roll of paper (feed it out like toilet paper and cut it). After processing the 50" by 'unlimited length' pieces are mounted together carefully.
     
  26. Arklatexian

    Arklatexian Subscriber

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    I helped do some 84 inch long murals and we used the method you described. I think we made six or seven and they were washed in a bathtub (no shower). Years after they served their purpose, they were destroyed and none showed any sign of chemical damage (stain, bleaching, etc.). As I remember the "hard" part was mounting them onto plywood or masonite. We used a "water-base" cement........Regards!
     
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