Processing and Printing ULF Negatives

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Francesco

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For those that regularly take ULF phtographs (11x14, 12x20 etc.), what is your preferred method for processing these monster negs? Why this method versus others you have tried? For contact printing, which type of frame do you use? Thank you in advance.
 

David A. Goldfarb

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I process 11x14" in trays. Why? Because I have trays. I use trays for 8x10", so the process is familiar. The idea of processing one sheet at a time in a tube and having to rinse and dry the tube after each sheet seems painfully slow to me.

I have a couple of contact printing frames for 11x14". One is a Premier, which was cheap and functional. I also have a Kodak frame with register pins and a matching punch, which is nicer, and I thought might come in handy some day if I decide to try a process that requires precise registration. If I were to buy a new one, the Fine Arts Photo Supply frames look quite nice.
 

Donald Miller

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Francesco,

I brush develop my 12X20 negs in 16X20 trays. I started out with 20X24 trays that I already owned but the extra chemistry became a consideration. Brush developing gives me the even development that I want.

I use a Nuarc vacuum frame. I thought of using a conventional spring tension frame but Michael Smith, Sandy King, and others told me that the difference in sharpness between a spring tension frame and a vacuum frame is noticeable when one works with big film. I took their guidance on this matter.

Sounds like you're considering the move into ULF. Good luck.
 

George Losse

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Francesco,

When I first started working with 11x14 and 8x20, I used a unicolor drum on a Bessler motor base. Now I use a Jobo and a print drum to process my negatives.

I have a Nu Arc plate maker with a vacuum frame still from when I was printing in Platinum but It has been in the basement for almost 5 years. I just use a piece of glass over my nagatives while contact printing. I have owned and used contact printing frames but find they are more trouble then they are worth unless you are using a POP paper which would need to be inspected to check exposure.

I have to warn you that ULF negatives are very addictive. They are a joy to work with, and seeing the negatives hanging to dry after processing makes any inconvenience the cameras may cause during shooting worth the effort.
 
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Francesco

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Yes Don, you are right. Not just considering but doing!! It will be happening this year once the camera is done. I can't wait.

George - bullseye!! The prospect of a big negative for me (and for a lot of us) just makes the backache worthwhile.

Is there a changing tent (Harrison perhaps?) that allows loading and unloading of the negatives into the drums? I ask because I am like Mr. Weston - no darkroom in my house (yet). Only a tiled room with a place to hang a lightbulb (and a sink of course).

Once under the glass what kind of bulb do you use to expose your negatives, if printing in AZO? If PtPd? How high is the bulb to adequately cover the negative. Apologies for my inquisitiveness.
 

lee

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Francesco,
Jobo makes or sells a tent-like changing bag that is so big I think a small child could use it as a camping tent. I have changed 12x20 negs in one of these without much trouble.

lee\c
 

sanking

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Francesco said:
For those that regularly take ULF phtographs (11x14, 12x20 etc.), what is your preferred method for processing these monster negs? Why this method versus others you have tried? For contact printing, which type of frame do you use? Thank you in advance.


I have been developing all of my ULF film in print drums on Beseler and Unicolor motor bases for many years. I have several drums and motor bases (this equipment is dirt cheap on ebay these days) and can actually set up to develop up to four 7X17 sheets or two 12X20 sheeets at a time.

However, I am now considering switching from rotary processing to a form of miminal or extreme minimal agitation with the goal to maximize apparent sharpness. There has been quite a discussion on this subject recently on the AZO formum and the appraoch appears very promising.

As for printing, I strongly recommend the use of a vacuum easel for prints over 8X10" in size. Results with contact printing frames are iffy because it is vey hard to ensure good contact over a large area from just two pressure points.

Sandy
 

Michael A. Smith

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I develop 8 x 20s and 18 x 22s in trays. By inspection.

I use a NuArc frame. I bought it for the 18x22s. Before then I had an old spring back contact printing frame for my 8x20s. I have tested and there is no difference in sharpness between the NuArc and the contact printing frame. BUt the NuArc is so much quicker. I'd use it if I made 4x5 contact prints. And I had an OLD frame made out of very dense wood and the springs are strong.

For bulb and allother things Azo see my articles at http://www.michaelandpaula.com, but you probably knew that already.
 

sanking

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Michael A. Smith said:
"I use a NuArc frame. I bought it for the 18x22s. Before then I had an old spring back contact printing frame for my 8x20s. I have tested and there is no difference in sharpness between the NuArc and the contact printing frame."

But bear in mind that some processes have much different requirements in terms of the amount of pressure need toi maintain good contact between the negative and the sensitized material. With relatively thin factory coated papers, such as AZO, good contact can be had simply by placing a thick plate of glass over the sandwich. However, when working with alternative processes where the paper is a fairly thick piece of drawing or water color paper one needs much greater pressure to maintain good contact.

In carbon printing, where one works with a very thick and sifff piece of carbon tissue, it is virtually impossible to get adequate pressure with a contact printing fraame, even when well adjusted.

Sandy
 

sanking

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Francesco said:
Once under the glass what kind of bulb do you use to expose your negatives, if printing in AZO? If PtPd? How high is the bulb to adequately cover the negative. Apologies for my inquisitiveness.

Francesco,

The light is a whole different matter for printing with AZO as opposed to alternative processes like Pt/Pd that require a light source high in UV radiation. For AZO stuff go to the AZO forum. For UV printers have a look at my article at http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Light/light.htm.

Sandy
 
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Francesco

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Thank you for the wealth of knowledge you have shared gentlemen. Sandy's comment on paper thickness vis a vis contact printing frame is very interesting. If I were to use my 12x20 negatives solely for AZO printing am I correct in assuming that a normal tension/spring back contact printing frame will suffice? Or has someone found a discernable difference for printing on AZO between a vacuum frame and a contact printing frame?
 
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