Tried my first Tray Development
today.... not sure it wen't ok. I'm still not good at looking at negatives, but it seems thin.
I'm pretty sure my exposure is ok. I'm used to metering in the studio and shooting. Shot a piece of Arista and rated it 64, as I usually do outside. I wanted to shoot something in the studio.
Since I have my DR up and running, I thought I would try a tray development. I'm not 100% sure the developer was healthy to be honest, so it's been dumped, and a new batch has been made.
I'm going to shoot one more image, and do my usual patterson tank development. The only 2 things different today, was I didn't pre-wash my film, and I was running my safe light. I developed it for my usual 7 minutes. Film is drying right now. I want to scan it, to see what I get...
Oh well, no biggie but it did surprise me.
Just shot my 2nd neg. Same settings on the exposure side of course. Patterson tank development BUT with fresh developer... Didn't pre-wash as I usually do. The Neg looks great.
Now I'm not sure if it was the developer or the way I did tray development... Is there a certain way for tray over tank? I did agitate the tray ever 30 seconds, as I do with the tank.....
Any insight would be greatly appreciated...
Well, you can't develop film with your safe light on, if that's what you did...
Originally Posted by Pfiltz
I am not familiar with Arista films, but how you agitate in the tray, and how you agitate in the tank—depending how long the development stage is—can have a major impact on your results, especially with short durations. Rapid inversions of the tank are pretty intense, and if all you did was a gentle rocking of the tray, then I'd say you would have a reason for the difference, especially if the overall dev time was as short as 4-5 min. With 7 minutes, I would think this would amount to something like a 1 min relative difference. Would that matter? If you were constantly leafing through the sheets in the tray, on the other hand, it would give a similar agitation to the tank.
Was the number of sheets you processed, and the quantity of developer used, and the temperature, similar in both methods? After you dissect the issues, perhaps have another go, if you wish to do trays, to make sure it was not just a fluke.
Personally, I avoid trays, to which I am a relative newcomer, because I do not trust myself not to scratch my sheets, while CombiPlan has served me well for 12 years. I use trays for tests, seconds, or negatives that I can easily retake, if I do not have a full batch waiting. In both cases, however, I get similar results, with similar development times, although I have only calibrated for CombiPlan.
PS. Nothing beats doing a film developing time test and getting your own, reliable time. But that is another can of fun.
Last edited by Rafal Lukawiecki; 12-01-2012 at 12:13 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: PS added.
1. You can't expose your developing negatives to light during development (unless you develop by inspection, and then you use a very, very dim green safelight for just a few seconds to assess development progress). Tray develop in complete darkness.
2. Tray rocking is totally inadequate for agitation. Lift the negative(s) out of the developer, turn them 180° and then re-submerge them in the developer. Most of us tray developers develop several sheets at a time, shuffling the film from the bottom to the top. I go through my stack once every 30 seconds. That means shuffling once every five seconds for six sheets of film, once every 10 seconds for three sheets, once every 15 seconds for two. If I'm only developing one sheet, I lift it out and re-submerge it once every 15 seconds.
You negatives are thin because 1) you did not agitate adequately and 2) you may not have the correct developing time and 3) as you said, your developer might have been exhausted. Test for your correct developing time after you have mastered the agitation scheme. I recommend practicing with the lights on with a few scrap sheets, then with your eyes closed (or the lights out) till you get the hang of it.
The big danger with tray developing more than one sheet at a time is scratching the negatives. It takes some practice and some skill to be able to tray develop consistently without damaging the film. Some never get it and switch to more expensive and more automated developing methods.
For me, however, tray developing remains my basic method. Once mastered it is quick, low-tech, requires little equipment and is extremely flexible.
Oh yes, if you are tray developing more than one sheet at a time, you need to pre-soak to ensure that the negatives won't stick together in the developer (they will if you don't!). I submerge my batch of negatives into the pre-soak tray one at a time in 15 second intervals to keep them from adhering to each other in the water bath. If they do, you have to gently, gently and slowly, slowly work them apart (they'll come apart by themselves after a while, but you can speed up the process by helping the water soak in between the stuck negs). Don't pull hard or you'll damage one.
Appreciate all the great info folks. I was only working with 1 sheet BTW.
I think it was 2 fold. Not enough agitation, safe light on, and exhausted developer or "weak" developer.
I may try one more just for giggles. I would like to do tray -vs- tank if it's possible. I'm working in a DR without a sink so pre-wash wasn't to much of an option per se.
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If you had your safelight on, they should be quite fogged, too, unless this was ortho film.
I'm also a complete beginner with tray development of sheet film, developing them singly and - knowing no better - using only rocking for agitation.
I've done about a dozen or so now and they are all quite adequately dense.
(Not trying to deny what you're saying Rafal, just offering a different experience)
There is a marked difference between rocking a tray rhythmically back and forth relatively quickly so that there is little meaningful agitation on the one hand compared to proper lift-and-flow agitation of the tray that allows the developer to run down the tray to the low point to achieve a homogenous mixture of fresh and exhausted developer on the other. Once mixed by the turbulence of the flowing liquid into the low end of the tray the mixture is mostly fresh developer, which flows back over the film or plate as the tray is lowered back to horrizontal.
You can achieve good agitation by lifting the near end of the tray about 1.5” (38mm) in about 3 seconds, wait about 3 seconds for the solution to run down into the low end and mix uniformly. Then lower back to horizontal in 3 seconds. Then do the same thing from side-to-side.
This works well to carry the thin layer of exhausted developer away from the surface of the emulsion and thoroughly mix it with the fresh developer to form a uniform mixture. Darkroom workers have been successfully tray processing sheet films and glass plate negatives since these materials were introduced, probably at least as early as the 1880s for glass plate negatives.
Last edited by Ian C; 12-01-2012 at 02:50 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Pdeeh, if it works, it works, stick with what you are doing. In my original post, I was specifically contrasting a "gentle rocking" of a tray to fairly vigorous tank inversions, which would be a cause for a difference in densities, between two methods, all else same. However, as Doremus, and Ian helpfully explained, there are many ways to get the tray agitation right, which I believe must also be your experience. If ain't broken...
Originally Posted by pdeeh
For tray, just begin by using fresh (one–shot) developers and agitate per manufacturer's recommendation, stack or tray rock. Personally, I've standardized all sheet development times with constant agitation. Most sheet films need to be exposed far greater than the manufacturer's film speed suggests for proper shadow resolution (i.e., HP5+, TXP @ 200, FP4+ @ 80-100, etc.). Film testing, per your development method, will help you in determining proper film speed for your particular application.
Originally Posted by Pfiltz
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