Developing many small prints

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by srs5694, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I'm wondering if anybody has suggestions for equipment or procedures to handle processing several (say, half a dozen or more) small (4x6 or 5x7) prints. I'm fairly new in the darkroom, and I've found that trying to do more than two or three prints in a standard set of 8x10 trays is just extremely awkward. Maybe I'm just lacking the practice. I was thinking, though, of trying this: Get a watertight box (probably plastic, perhaps Tupperware or something similar), fit it with dividers (plastic screen material, say) to keep the prints separated, and use it something like a film developing tank, pouring developer, stop, and fixer in and out. Obviously this won't permit developing by inspection, but my goal is to get a set of OK-but-not-great small enlargements from a roll of film rather than perfect 8x10 or larger enlargements. Has anybody tried anything like this? If so, any tips on containers to use? Or does somebody have suggestions for alternative methods of achieving my goal? Thanks.
     
  2. eric

    eric Member

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    That's not much, but an 8x10 tray might be too small if you want to be efficient
    (For RC paper)
    1. Expose 1 paper and see how long it takes to get a decent print.
    2. Expose as many as you want and keep put it back in the box
    3. Put 2 back to back and then stack them
    4. Put them in developer and shuffle them like a deck of cards starting from the bottom (I *think* one of AA books has this method but I haven't seen that book in a while).

    You'll need to use your hands. Are you using tongs? Maybe that's whay you are getting limited to just a few at a time.
     
  3. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I gang process 5X7s all the time. I print a roll of 35mm or 120 5X7 rather than make a contact proof sheet. I use a 11X14 tray and can develop 6 to ten at a time. It just takes practice.
     
  4. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Buy a used Jobo 2830. It'll do 4 5x7s at once. Used it won't cost too much. Make life even easier get a Unicolor motorbase and put the tank on that. Works fine for RC.
     
  5. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    One method that can be used to process a large number of prints at one time is to dilute your print developer so tha you have a processing time of say 4 minutes. It is much easier to develop multiple prints to the same contrast and density with a longer developing time.

    Of course you would have to make your test print/ strip with the increased processing time to get yourself set up to go.
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you can find one at a reasonable price, another option is to use a multiprint easel, which will let you print several small prints on a larger sheet, and then you can cut them up when they are dry. For instance, you could expose 4 3.5X5's on an 8x10" sheet, shuffle 9 sheets through the developer once you get the hang of it, and print a whole roll of 35mm in no time.

    Meanwhile, though, practice and larger trays can help.
     
  7. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Try a larger tray - I can do 6 postcards at a time in a 12 x 16 tray without too much hassle (you will need about 2 litres of chemicals per tray). If you decide to use your hands and shuffle the prints, use gloves.

    If you do this often you could make a "slosher" cradle to fit the 12x16" trays - a simpler DIY version of this: (http://www.summitek.com/cradle.html) might work. They are normally used for sheet film, but I can't see any reason why paper can't be used. Do a search on here for "slosher" for more info.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  8. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I've just ordered a 4-up easel off of eBay. If I can do two or three (or more, with practice) 8x10s in a tray at once, that'll help speed things up a lot. The comment about the "slosher" cradle has also gotten me thinking about building a sort of basket with dividers out of plastic screen material or something similar. That could be dunked in appropriately-sized tubs of chemistry for doing however many prints I like in one shot. I'll have to go to the hardware store and see what I can scrounge up for raw materials....
     
  9. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I do 4 postcards at a time (2 groups of 2 back to back) in 8x10 trays. I did do 8 in 12x16 trays once but was still working with std 1min devl time and it was a bit chaotic... they tended to move around and get mixed up amongst each other and then I didn't know which ones went in 1st versus last! 4 at a time works nicely in that by the time I exposes and process, the ones in the wash have had enough time.

    Since you're actually wanting to do different frames then Davids suggestion, which you've followed up, is the easiest way to go assuming the size of the prints you get are ok. I have one of these (Durst Commask) which leaves a white border around each print, so you end up with 3 1/2" x 4 1/2" (I think) prints. You need a red filter under your enlarger lens to use this efficiently as you'll need to reposition the easel each frame, unless you print full frame and have some location marks on the baseboard to get the easel in the right spot for each of the 4 segments.
     
  10. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Doesn't the easel have a focussing panel? I've got a 16x20 multi-image easel. It's a Beseler IIRC. To focus you insert the solid inserts in place. I think the thing was really designed for printing a portrait set. Maybe class pictures? They would all be printed on a 16x20 sheet then processed. Cut up later. I forget exactly what sizes it produces but using different inserts you can vary the final results. I want to say it produced everything from 2x3 to 8x10 on a single sheet but it's been sitting on a shelf for awhile.
     
  11. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    mine has windows you open, but they cover the actual borders so you need to open the window (with a red filter in place or no paper in the easel) to locate the image accurately. Guess you could draw lines on the windows to indicate the correct framing to remove that step.
     
  12. Earl Dunbar

    Earl Dunbar Member

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    I also recommend a larger tray (I used 11x14 for 8x10 prints, 16x20 for 11x14, etc.)... to small a tray and you have problems with keeping prints separated, but more importantly, not enough solution. I used to do the prints back to back, stacked face-to-face (i.e. 2 prints back to back, 2 more on top, etc., etc.) and pull the bottom pair up from the bottom to top, and so on, with constant movement. I never wore gloves, was very careful about washing and drying my hands after every set.

    I did the same thing for larger prints, e.g., 8x10 and ocasionally 11x14. Take care and take your time.

    Earl
     
  13. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening,

    Ditto on the multiprint easel. I also find no problem with two 8 x 10's at a time in 11 x 14 or 12 x 16 trays. With four 4 x 5's on each 8 x 10 sheet, the numbers add up fairly quickly.

    Konical
     
  14. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    FWIW, some of you clearly have larger and more elaborate multi-print easels than I'm getting. Here's the one I won. It looks like it's designed strictly for doing 4-up on an 8x10 sheet. If I find it's inadequate for my purposes I'll look for something more elaborate or try another approach. If anybody else wants to try the same thing, I saw at least two other auctions on eBay for what looked like the same model, but I didn't save the auction numbers. (Both had higher starting prices.) Search on "easel" in the photo area and scan the results to find them.
     
  15. DKT

    DKT Member

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    I may be wrong, but I don't think that particular model is for multiple prints. I've seen a similar saunder's easel like that, and it was making salon type prints--rather wide borders in fixed sizes.

    The Saunders Multiprint easel is a bunch different beast--I have one of these and they cost about 400 dollars new. It's the cadillac, or Rolls Royce of multiprint easels. It comes with a variety of masks from wallet through 8x10. The base of the easel is a large, fixed box--with two levers that move an easel mounted to a carriage inside--the levers move this to several preset click stops, depending on the mask size. This way--the base stays in the same place, but the paper moves around. Each time you move the paper, you can cover it up with the door in the mask, and go to a dim white-light to move to the next negative & refocus & make the exposure by flipping the door open and so on.

    Other multi easels, like the one made by Jobo, Premier etc--work in a simpler manner. You move the easel instead. I've used a couple made by unicolor, and they're pretty low tech but work just as well in many ways. I've also made quickie 2-up easels, by covering half of speed-ez with cardboard.

    You may be able to make another mask for that easel you have bid on though--the mask needs to have an offset opening for the exposure to made through. Instead of being centered, it needs to be in one corner. It needs to be flat on both sides, so you can flip it over and rotate it around as well to cover up the exposed areas as you make the next print. You also need some way to make the entire easel lightight as well between exposures, or you'll need to remove the paper and insert it in the proper orientation for the next negative.

    It's much easier to do this in a 2-up easel than a 4, if you try to make them yourself. You just have to keep track of the orientation of the paper.

    Hope this helps.
     
  16. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    That sounds like my 16x20 easel. The only issues with mine are it moves left right on it's track but not forward/back. So you can do either the top half of the sheet or the bottom half of the sheet. Once you've done one half then you need to push the whole thing into place. The thing is huge.
     
  17. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Just a little tip: if you are not so comfortable with developing many prints in the same tray at once, you can simply put 2-3 on the dev bath at the same time, then leave them in the stop bath to do another batch at once. Prints can handle to be left in the stop for a while without problems, and once they're all in there, you can throw everything in the fixer and shuffle to your heart's content. Precision in the fixing time is not crucial the way it is for developer.
     
  18. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Another auction for what looked like the same item showed a little use diagram. The idea is that an 8x10 sheet of paper is much smaller than the base of the easel. Depending on which corner of the easel holds the paper, the opening in the lid will expose a different corner of the paper. For instance, to make a print in the lower-right corner of the paper, you'd put the paper in the upper-left corner of the easel. You'd then shift the paper to the upper-right corner of the easel to make a print in the lower-left corner of the paper, and so on for all four corners.

    Of course, this all depends on the size of the unit; it could be that you're right and the thing's smaller than I'm assuming. If so, I've blown $18. I guess I'll know in a few days when it arrives.

    FWIW, I didn't find anything as elaborate as what you've described, either new at B&H or on eBay. Are such easels still being made? I'm certainly not willing to pay $400 for one, but I might keep my eye out on eBay if the one I ordered turns out to be inadequate.
     
  19. DKT

    DKT Member

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    Yeah--the Saunders (PR810) is big & klunky as well, built like a tank though.

    The Unicolor ones I have--they're made of plastic and I've had them for years. They were called mitchell picture boxes or something like that, and look kind of dorky, but they're actually pretty convenient to use, and they're small enough to move around on a tight baseboard.

    Both of them are basically plastic paper safes--with a sliding cover that fits over the top of these plastic inserts that cover the paper in sections for the various print sizes. These have a flush fit, so this cover slides over, and you can switch on the white lights (dim) to change out negs. The top of the inserts are flat white, the rest of the piece is black. I went ahead and labeled the inserts I use most, a, b, c, etc. to keep track of them, so I didn't make any double exposures.

    In use--you set up your image onto the white part--top--of the insert, cut off the enlarger, pull out the insert & make the exposure. Flip it over to the black side, and cover the paper up. Now--either put the lid back on & move to the next negative or slide the easel over top make another print of the same frame. Usually what I do is to focus on the back side--the borderless 8x10 format, since it's on the same plane as the other side. I then flip it over, pull the cover and frame it in place. This way--the light from the enlarger isn't on the full time--so you don't run the risk of getting any fog.

    You can mix and match the print sizes as well--just rearrange the little inserts. So, you can resize a neg and make a few wallets, a 3.5x5, 5x7 etc on the same sheet, or do them all the same size or print multiple negs etc. Sometimes if I'm unsure of an exposure, I'll flip it over and use the back side to make a little test strip, but most of the time I use the Saunders for this stuff--and I use a metrolux probe, or an EM10 meter to get the exposures roughed in. Coupled with a negatrans--you can make quick work of a roll of film for proofs....a second enlarger is pretty nice too, if you're really trying to crank them out.

    It's a pretty simple thing--wouldn't be too hard to make one of these easels, I actually gave away one of the Unicolors recently, you couldn't get more than ten bucks probably used for one. The Saunders--would be tough to make something like this. It's a really well made piece of equipment and would be a good investment if you plan on doing this a lot.
     
  20. DKT

    DKT Member

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    here's a couple:

    http://www.jobo.com/joboint/products/vafoeasel.html

    http://www.tiffen.com/html/body_eas_5.htm

    Unicolor made them as well Premier. The Premiers were metal and were long contraptions with metal doors that flipped open. not the same as the Saunders, but more substantial than the plastic ones. Doran probably still offers one--check with Porters or some place like that.
     
  21. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I've done this many times. If you develop a rhythm, it is relatively easy to do.

    You didn't mention what size prints you are working on. My experience is that it is easier to use one easel - otherwise, you have to reframe as you shift from one easel to another. If you are working on "standard" size prints, a "speed easel" is easier to use than a multi-size easle that opens like a book. With a speed easel you simply slip the paper into the slot, judge by feel that it is in the right position, and make the print. I have a collection that I have picked up at garage sales - 4x5, 5x7, 8x10 and postcard.


    Someone suggested using a higher developer dilution. Actually, this is probably a good idea. One of the problems with gang development is that some of the prints dwell longer in the developer than others. Using a higher dilution means that the development time is longer. If it takes, for example, 30 sec to transfer the prints from developer to stop, and your development time is 2 minutes, then you are potentially developing some prints 25% longer than others. But if diluted developer requires 4 minutes for normal development, the potential difference between the first and last print is only 12.5%.
     
  22. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    Two words: divided development.

    See my article in the Chemistry Recipes section of the forum for details. By dividing your developer into two parts--developing agents in Bath A and development activator in Bath B, you eliminate need for time/temperature controls and will get absolutely consistent and repeatable results from batch to batch. For batch printing, I know of no other technique that is so easy or gives such repeatable results. You will have to mix your own developer, but virtually any one you wish to mix will work. Good old D-72 (Dektol) will do just fine.

    Larry
     
  23. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Another thing that I don't think anyone's mentioned is--if I'm using a 4 blade easel (which I usually do), I put a piece of masking tape as a stop along the blade used for positioning the paper, so I can do it quickly without having to check each time that it's centered.
     
  24. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Many years ago I had a similar type easel. The bed was
    spring loaded; left hand on the lever and with the right
    the paper was inserted. Very fast.

    I did a lot of 8x10s with that easel. Single Weight.
    Batch processing is not so easy now days; double weight
    and stiff RC.

    A dilute one-shot developer is a good suggestion.
    Follow with a weak one-shot sulfite or bisulfite stop if
    the fix is acid. Dan