general tips on tray processing sheet film
I've been looking around for some good guidelines on how to safely process sheet film in trays, but I'm not having tons of success. Can anyone point me to some good resources? I did my first batches of sheet film in trays this weekend, and scratched the base on most, and the emulsion a little on one or two, and so I'm wondering what I can do to improve my technique. I pulled from the bottom of the stack, developing 8 sheets of 8x10 film in an 11x14 tray, all sheets emulsion side down.
Okay, I'm no expert, but: the general wisdom seems to be to develop emulsion up, and do no more than six sheets until you've got a lot of practice behind you.
Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.
I develop emulsion side up, and I'd say start with three or four sheets before trying more.
Make sure you've got enough solution in the tray.
Insert the sheets with a sweeping motion from the front of the tray to the back, slightly lifting up on the leading edge, so that it doesn't scratch the next sheet, and pat down with your fingertips. There are good illustrations of this in Adams' _The Negative_.
Surgical gloves not only protect your hands from the chemicals, but also protect the emulsion from your fingernails.
When pulling from the bottom of the stack, be sure to pull straight out, so that the corner of the second sheet from the bottom doesn't scrape the sheet you are pulling.
If you're using one of the more fragile East European films, you may find tray development unsuitable. Even if you refine your technique, you'll still get little abrasions, which may or may not show up in the print. Alternatives are tanks and hangers (good for high volume), drums (not all developers work with drums), and single sheet development or brush development in trays.
Scot- firstly try some 4x5 film. It's alot cheaper to learn on. Secondly the 11x14 tray may not be large enough for you to work comfortably in. If you want to get it right buy 100 of the cheapest 4x5 film you can get your hands on; bang it out
and tray proces. I do Efke in a tray no problem. Occassional marks but no-one is
Scot - I process most of my sheet film (4x5, 5x7 and 8x10) in slosher trays. One sheet per compartment (6 compartments in the 4x5, 4 compartments in the 5x7 and 8x10), emulsion side up. All processing is done in the slosher tray - no handling until the sheets are hung to dry. No mechanical defects (scratches, nicks, dings, etc.) in my negs (unless I drop one).
Efke 100 is my primary film and I do not use a hardening fixer.
Everything is analog - even digital :D
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Let me show you. It's all in how you separate the bottom one from and stack and the angle at which you pull it out. Paula Chamlee showed me how to do it, and ever since I took her method seriously, I haven't scratched a one - not even Efke film, which is notoriously soft.
Whatever you do, don't try to do it as shown in the illustrations in Adams' The Negative. That way virtually guarantees scratching.
P.S. I sure hope you didn't scratch the one of the shells. BTW, it's emulsion side up.
The one with the shells has some scratches, but as I noted, they're on the base, not the emulsion, and they're not as bad. Also, there is SOOO much detail on the shells shot that unless the scratches are profound, I doubt they'll show.
Perhaps for the next meeting of the DC Large Format Club, we could do a darkroom technique demo session I'll post an announcement here, on largeformatphotography.info and photo.net if we can agree on a date. Want to say mid-July sometime?