Entering the world of 16x20.. Need some advice..

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by brian steinberger, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    I'm almost ready to begin 16x20 printing. I just have a few conerns/questions.

    - Anyone using the single tray processing method? In theory it sounds ideal, saving the most space, but pouring and pouring and pouring would get old after I while I would imagine.

    - How much chemistry in a 16x20 tray? I use 2L now for 11x14, so 3L? or 4?

    - How necessary is a print washer for 16x20? I have one for 11x14 and love it but can't afford another one for 16x20. I have tray siphon which would work for low volume work.

    - Ok to handle the print with hands? I've never used tongs and don't intend to.

    Any other advice or suggestions would be great!

    Thanks!
     
  2. Erik L

    Erik L Subscriber

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    Hi Brian,
    It would be hard to handle a tray full of chemicals at that size I would think, but maybe? Your tray siphon will do fine if only one or two prints are done at a time. Use a pinch consisting of your index finger and thumb and
    you shouldn't have any problems with kinking the print during handling. You only need enough chemistry to cover the print, no need to fill the tray to the brim. As long as the capacity of the chemicals are followed, use the
    just enough to easily cover the print while agitating. It's not much different than 11x14 really, just takes more space in the sink:smile:
    good luck with the prints!
    regards
    Erik
     
  3. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Brian,

    16 x 20 trays require about twice the chemical volume compared to 11 x 14 trays. If you intend to process only a couple of prints, the required amount isn't too great--just enough to give good coverage to the paper. If you intend to make a number of prints in one session, it's good to ample quantities of chemicals, just so that chemical exhaustion doesn't occur toward the end of a printing session.

    Another very viable option, especially if your working space is limited, is a drum originally made for color prints. Chemical quantities are quite small, but a motor base for rotation is, while not an absolute requirement, highly desirable.

    Washing with a tray siphon is quite practical if you use RC paper. A 20 x 24 inch tray is preferable.

    Handling the larger paper requires a little practice, but it's not really difficult. Allow plenty of time for chemicals to drain off the print before transfering from one tray to the next.

    Konical
     
  4. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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    I use 6 liters of developer and 4 liters of stop and fix. I allow 30 seconds for chemicals to drain before going to the next tray. I wear Nitrile gloves and never use tongs for any size I print—can't stand them.

    For some reason 16x20s look a LOT bigger to me than 11x14s. I think you'll really enjoy them Brian.
     
  5. Craig Swensson

    Craig Swensson Member

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    well i did my first 16x20 two weeks ago. Two trays, and a bit of a hassle but i stopped in the sink then drained,flushed and refilled the sink during fix. I used 2.0 ltr of chemicals in each tray and did 4 prints. The best of which is now framed and hanging in the lounge. Was`nt that hard after all.
    regards
     
  6. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    As little as 2L of liquid with RC paper though with fiber paper it may not cover the edges of the print so 3-4L would be better for the developer at least. After the fiber is wet is flattens out.

    I use multiple trays and have 6 of them for developer, stop, 1-2 fixers, wash, permawash, toner, drying drip tray.

    I've always use tongs in chemicals, and sometimes use two for 16x20. Hands are OK in the wash tray, not fond of gloves.

    16x20 looks and is big! It's as big as I can go without doing floor or wall projection. Not sure how I'd handle trays any bigger, 16x20 is already pushing it getting 3 trays on my dev/stop/fix table.
     
  7. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Brian

    There are those who do single tray development, I cannot imagine any reason other than space, the pitfalls IMO are too great.
    I use 10 litres of developer per printing session to make prints. If you are going into the darkroom to make a couple of prints then less is ok.
    Yes you will get very tired of dumping trays, actually go fill a tray in your darkroom right now with water and practice a bit. If you follow double fix , wash, hypo clear , wash you will get the idea of how difficult this may become.
    On the other hand you will at least be giving your upper body a real workout.
    All kidding aside , I use 20 x24 trays and when I was younger I had no problem lifting the trays to dump chemistrys, now I do, I have joined a fitness center to build back strength so I can pour my trays at the end of a day.
    I use gloves and buy them in bulk to get a good price, I would never use tongs.
    You do not need a vertical washer, a series of dumps would be totally ok. You would need to figure out that one for yourself, a good hypo clear before would be in order.

     
  8. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    I have heard of people using an 11x14 slot type print washer for 16x20 by bending the print to fit into two slots. It always seemed risky to me. Has anybody tried it?
     
  9. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    As mentioned above I also use 4-6 liters of solution for 16x20 prints. My sink will hold five 11x14 trays but for 16x20 trays I use tray stackers. I bought them from Calumet @ approx. $80. You can place up to three trays in the space of one. For washing I have a vertical partitioned print washer that takes up to 16x20 papers and sits on the counter-top and drains into the sink. A tray siphon will work but look into making your own print washer with sheets of acrylic. I made my first one by copying the design from a picture. After many years of use I replaced it with a store bought one.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  10. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    I use dishes like this [​IMG].
    I do not know the English term for them. They are made for mixing dough. You can find them in the nonfood department of every supermarket. They are not too high and have a large opening, which is important, as a 16x20 tray is heavy and somewhat floppy. To my experience, 2,5L of chemicals are enough. Rinsing the prints is the bottleneck in the process as you want to rinse them separately. If you do not have the space for large trays, chances are, you do not have space for separate trays for rinsing.
    I have tried to develop large prints in a large tube. This works fine for the first print until you have to get the wet print out of the tube. I suppose, you can not rinse a fiber print in a tube as there is no way to make sure that the back gets washed. Others say it would be fine, as the back does not get soaked with chemicals YMMV.
    I have done it several times as I too do not have the space for large trays, but don't like the workflow much. I prefer to stick with 12x16.

    Ulrich


    EDIT: I suppose I should supply the linkt to the source of the picture: Curver
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2011
  11. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    If you are going to go the single tray route, do yourself a favor and build a spout and valve into the bottom of your tray. You can hang the edge over the side of the table, or put the spout through a hole in the table. It will make things 100x more easy and more neat than pouring 3 to 4 liters of chemistry several times for each print.

    But IME you can almost always make space for three processing trays SOMEWHERE. Put them on the ground if you have to. Washing is the real obstacle. Showers are decent solutions, though probably a bit heavy on water usage.
     
  12. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I use about 2L and that's fine for flat RC paper and your tray is perfectly level and you're not doing a big quantity.

    I didn't have room for all the trays at my sink, so I made a frame to stack the stop bath tray over the develop and fixer trays. I usually use 8x10 or 11x14 trays and my sink is well suited to a line of those.
     
  13. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    That reminds me of something I have forgotten to write: Develop the prints face down, so you will be sure they get developed evenly. It is important to fill in the developer before putting the print into the tray though.

    Ulrich
     
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  15. Joe O'Brien

    Joe O'Brien Member

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    I would say that 4L of developer for a 16x20 is a minimum if you are running fiber paper, at least that's the lowest I've been able to do without having to constantly push the print down for the first minute. In terms of usage, I normally set up the darkroom here at school with 6L of chemicals across the board. The chemicals can usually last through a couple days of printing, I'd like to think that the equivalent of 100+ 8x10's are run before I have to change chemistry. The only thing is we use Marathon chemistry, which is supposedly formulated for longevity in a high use atmosphere.
     
  16. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Another option to look into is a vertical slot processor. They're not cheap, but my Nova 16x20 vertical slot processor has three slots yet takes up less square inches in the sink than a single 16x20 tray. Another benefit is that having a very tiny surface area, your chemistry evaporates much more slowly and oxidizes more slowly, allowing you to stretch a batch for a very long time - especially if you use long-lasting chemistry like Ansco 130 as a print developer. I once had a batch last me literally months and dozens of 8x10 and larger prints (including maybe close to a dozen 16x20s) before I had to dump and replace it.
     
  17. Monito

    Monito Member

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    Face down? Really? Is that good advice?

    I was always taught and read and found that face down traps air bubbles and leads to uneven development. What possible advantage to face down development would there be that would be more powerful to make it worth the risk of uneven development?

    The only thing I can think of is a risk to damaging the surface of the print with improper use of tongs. That is one reason many advise using gloves or fingers (for those who don't get skin reactions from limited exposure). However, good tongs and proper usage gives better results than developing face down, in almost all cases, I'm sure. If I am wrong, explain it to me, please.
     
  18. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I put my prints in face down , then immediately flip about 4 times to get good coverage on front and back of print.
    Then I keep the print face up for the balance with good agitation or flow.

    The most important thing for me in development is watching the print emerge, I can see where my dodge and burn is working, or not, where more is needed and basic contrast balance. I turn the lights on for no more than 10 seconds to judge the density of a print.

    Looking at the print in the developer is critical.
     
  19. Monito

    Monito Member

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    I tip the tray to put developer mostly at one end. Then I slip the print in under the surface face up at the other end, and gently release the tray so that a wave of developer washes over the print ensuring that it is completely covered by liquid. Then I keep a gentle rocking motion going for constant agitation. If any part of the print rises up, I gently push it down with tongs, or fingers, or gloves, depending on what I'm using. It's the most even development I can obtain (I've tried face down).

    It seems to me that flipping the print multiple times is unnecessary and greatly risks damaging the print. The emulsion develops top down with the liquid penetrating very quickly (in seconds). Development upwards by penetration through the paper is neglible to the point of being non-existent. In any case, RC papers have no penetration through the base, showing how unnecessary it is.
     
  20. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Well we can disagree here and its ok.

    pushing the print down with your tongs , fingers will give dimples .
    I usually print two images at a time back to back and flip them together , this over the years has proved to me at least the best way to not touch the surface of the image, two even development.
    Once you get the rythym it works great.


     
  21. Monito

    Monito Member

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    I've never dimpled the paper, except perhaps the first few times when I was beginning when I was too rough. I very occasionally crease a print when taking it out of the developer or other solution; hence my alerting to that risk that increases the more the paper is manipulated in and out. Not saying you can't make your way work for you, just that I don't recommend it for the reasons I give.
     
  22. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Without question, and very quickly.

    I'd advise a larger tray than 16X20 for 16X20. I use 24"X30" ID trays for all sheet papers from 8X10 to 20X24, and generally use 1 1/2 gallons (5 - 6 liters) of chemistry in each. 16X20 is the medium size I process in said trays. I sometimes use only a gallon for a limited amount of small 8x10 prints. One only needs enough to cover the prints, and to slosh, as is my bliss, without expiring the chemicals. Chemicals are relatively cheap, and I prefer my prints to swim.

    Fill and dump is the basis of all archival washing. It needn't get any more complicated except for convenience sake.

    If you're going to use hands, better make sure you observe assiduous handwashing between stations. It can be the traceable source of much contamination. I use metal spring pressure tongs on all prints up to 20X24. I only use hands on mural roll paper sizes.
     
  23. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    My Versalab 11x14 washer can do two 20x16s. I remove the divider rack and put in two 'U's of flexible acrylic sheet. If you only have space for 2-3 trays you could likely skip a stop phase and go straight to fix. At this size the paper is the major cost, not the chemical capacity.

    I have used Jobo print tanks on a hand roller base for doing 20x16. Although drying the tank is a pain, for a couple of prints it is less trouble than reorganizing for the large trays. I use 8x10 trays for tests.
     
  24. lajolla

    lajolla Member

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    16x20 prints of course need to be processed in trays larger than 16x20. That is the first easy and relatively inexpensive step. You will not need tongs, since you will be using your hands for all lifting and turning over of the print in the tray solutions. You will only be developing one print at a time - multiple prints and the additional handling of these large pieces of paper in the same tray are a recipe for disaster.
    So how much solution goes into your developer, stop, and fix trays?
    Easy - since you can develop 30 16x20 prints with a gallon of working dektol (1:2) developer -standardize your trays with a gallon of working solution - this will leave you at least an inch of developer in the tray bottoms, which are all you need to agitate and turn the individual print during developing, stop, and fix. Then carefully move your print to a wash tray for holding prior to hypo clear and toning. It is important not to process large prints in deep trays that have more than one inch of solution above the paper - the simple act of lifting and turning prints out of deeply filled trays is a major cause of large print problems. Remember to keep the solution to one inch in your large trays and you will reduce these simple hydraulic processing problems.
     
  25. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Will I need to use two hands to flip these big prints?
     
  26. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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    With my small darkroom I had in Japan, the one tray method worked well. You get used to pouring the chemistry back and forth too. Didn't even think about it. 2L of solution in each tray. I have a 20x24 print washer here, but only use it if I have made several prints (which is extremely rare). I like the hypo eliminator, water soak and dump method of washing in a tray. Two hands on the corners of the print when pulling it out, but if you use just one tray, the print stays put until you stick it on the wall to inspect. Make sure you rinse the tray well after the fix stage!