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.
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.
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.
Originally Posted by jp498
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.
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.
Face down? Really? Is that good advice?
Originally Posted by Ulrich Drolshagen
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.
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.
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.
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.
Originally Posted by Monito
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.