Printing BIG workflow question

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Sportera, Dec 24, 2006.

  1. Sportera

    Sportera Member

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    Ive decided to start printing bigger than my standard 10x13 images.

    for those of you who print large, I would be interested in hearing your workflow.

    Forinstance, do you proof print your negs at smaller sizes and then only print large in preperation for a show? Or do you make the print large without a proof?

    I am considering printing 20x24, from 4x5 negs and 12x18 from 35mm but Ive never gone that big and any help and advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Generally I have made 8x10 prints to study (prints on 8x10 paper), before going large. The handling of large paper through the exposure and developing process (for me) takes much longer, therefore I only want to print those images that I have already decided will "work" large. Working large will slow you way down. In general when going "large" I will set up just for that, and not make smaller prints in the same session. You will juse much more chemistry.
     
  3. Sportera

    Sportera Member

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    I see. Its best to have a plan right?
     
  4. wfe

    wfe Member

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    I print MF (6x6) mostly on 11x14 paper and I have printed them on 16x20 and I agree with Phototone's comments. Not all images work large but when they do it is awesome. My darkroom is very small so I end up with large trays everywhere including the floor and my bathtub is the final rinse. My suggestion is to give it a go Sam and choose the images carefully. Worst case is you waste some paper. Please keep us posted on your progress as I am a fan of your work and would love to see how it works out on larger prints. One other thing I would suggest you think about is that smaller pictures are more intimate for the viewer i.e. they have to get closer to it where they don't for larger pictures. So if you want to draw them in close large may not be the answer.

    Cheers,
    Bill
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    You might find that images with a lot of detail that may not work so well small will really open up when printed big, as long as they are sharp enough to hold up to enlargement, so that's something to keep in mind when making test prints or when selecting prints to enlarge.

    Another potential issue is that larger prints might need to be printed at a higher contrast grade than the smaller test prints.

    If I am planning to make large prints and small prints in the same session, I just run the big ones first.
     
  6. palewin

    palewin Member

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    Guess I fit into the "best to have a plan" approach if the final prints are 16x20 or larger. After picking the "potentials" off the contact sheet, I make 8x10 work prints on RC paper (RC speeds everything up, after all these are work prints). Normally I "gang print" the work prints (I standardize the exposure for all that look similar on the contact sheet), expose 3 or 4, and then shuffle them through the chemicals, pretty much the same as I would tray develop film. So these are "straight" (no manipulation) prints. I select from those the ones interesting enough for "real" larger fiber-base prints. If I'm going 11x14, I figure out the manipulations directly on the FB paper, since I usually get where I want to be in about 4 iterations (plus one more for dry-down). But if I'm going to print larger (expense goes up with size, as you're well aware) I will work out the dodging/burning at the 8x10 RC level, so that when I get to the big print, I have my workplan ready. Not to say that I may not still iterate a little, but much less than hitting the 16x20 "cold" (never tried 20x24). I scale my dodging/burning to keep the same "percentages" on the big print as on the small, since of course the base exposures are different.
     
  7. langedp

    langedp Member

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    Because of the points David makes above, I'll often set up the enlarged image for 16x20 or 20x24 and then make 8x10 test prints of various parts of this larger image. You can check particular areas of interest this way without using a full sheet of the larger paper. If you like what you see, then expose a full sheet.
     
  8. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I would stick to 16 x 20 rather that 20 x 24. The 16 x 20's are much cheaper to dry mount and frame because of the sizes of mat board etc. Also, I can dry mount the 16 x 20's in a single pass on the dry mount press with standard, pre-cut sheets of dry mounting tissue which is not possible with 20 x 24. Also, the larger prints need a little extra backing to prevent sagging when framed. Also, the trays for the larger prints are very awkward.

    I use single tray processing (see HeyLloyd.com) and like to batch process using the advice from the Ansel Adams series. I am most comfortable with 11 x 14's but you can do it with larger prints also. With 11 x 14's I process as many a 8 sheets at a time, interleaving the sheets and moving them from the bottom of the stack to the top constantly during processing. I use latex gloves and a container of water in which to dip my hands between steps. With 16 x 20's I would do 3-4 at a time. I work out the exposure sequence and then expose several sheets of the same scene and store the paper in a light-tight box until ready for batch processing.
     
  9. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    This is how I do it. I make the prints to sell at various art shows through out the year. I sell prints in 8x10, 16x20 and 20x24. I use graded paper so I make sure I have a lot of stock first and as the prints go bigger sometimes you have to jump up a grade. I use Ilford Gallerie, but will be trying Kentmere Bromide this time around since it comes in grade 4.
    When I find a shot I like, or have to reprint a good seller I start with 8x10's. I shoot 8x10 film and make one contact for filing perposes but all the other 8x10's are enlargements. So first I print a bunch of 8x10's, really get the print to where I want it, and make 8-10 8x10 copies. This usually takes most of a day.
    The next day I print the same negative on 16x20... it's a bit harder but since I've just printed it I basicly know the negative by now.
    I usually make about 5 copies in 16x20. Then I move on to the 20x24's. This is more work and costly but there isn't really that much waste.
    I usually make about 5 copies.
    That's the end of the second day. I use lots of chemicals and keep the fixer fresh. I don't save any chemicals from one day to the next.
    Hope this helps.
    -Rob
     
  10. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I would just add that washing finished prints in those big sizes is much harder if you have a large volume. It depends on your washing method, though.

    I have used a Kodak tray syphon for washing my prints in all sizes (but lately only 8x10 and 11x14), which is easier than a rinse-and-dump method, but a print washer will be the easiest. Personally I wouldn't think a rinse-and-dump method works well in 16x20 and up simply because it's too big and gets too heavy...