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  1. #1

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    New to Tray Processing: Any old hands that can help?

    I had also posted this on LF forum, but I didn't get any takers. Sorry it is a bit long, but I have included all of the details because I am sure there would have been a lot of questions about the specifics of what I am doing.

    I have been shooting 4x5 many years now, and I have a refined workflow that involves tank processing or rotary processing. I just recently purchased an 8x10" camera w/ a 5x7" reducing back. This is my first foray into anything bigger than 4x5", and I don't have the ability to process the 5x7 in my daylight tank or my rotary processor. Therefore I am back to when I first got a 4x5" -- tray processing. To complicate the matter, I am using a film that I have never used before. I only tray processed 4x5 once or twice and wound up with scratched negs, so I quickly moved on. After reading AA's the negative, I now have some technique that has helped me avoid scratching the negs. However, I am having some unexpected results as far as contrast is concerned.

    I am using Arista.EDU 100. This is rebranded Fomapan 100. The developing data gives 3.5' for 1:25 Rodinal. The MDC recommended the same time for 1:25 and 8-9' for 1:50. I had in my notes 7.5' @ 1:50 from others that have used fomapan 100 on Flickr. I adjusted my time down for a temperature of 74 degF and came up with 5.75'. This technique (or formula) that I use for adjusting dev time has always worked perfect for me.

    The neg came out WAY flat (N-2 at least), so I decided to use the 9' recommended for 1:50 in the MDC. Adjusted to 72 deg yesterday gave 7.5'. This was a little better, but still looked thin, so I went another +30% development by going to 1:25 and souping for 5'. This one almost hit the mark. My contact print on polycontrast paper with no filter looked almost there. However the black point was not quite where I would like it, and if I printed down more the highlights would start to look dull. I have to more test sheets shot of a five zone test scene, so I am thinking of going +%15 with the first, and +15% more with the next.

    I am wondering if tray times are significantly different than tank times. Because I have never had my times been too far away from the manufacturer recommendations. It makes me wonder if I am doing something wrong. I am now going to be processing at twice the recommended time on the data sheet that came with the box.

    Here are some potential issues:

    1. I use the restroom to load the holders. It is 99% light tight, but there is a TINY leak that comes from around the door jamb. I turn my back to it, and hold the anti-halo side away from me (two more stops of protection). I have never had an issue with it fogging my TMAX 100. It is so dark that I cannot see the film and the film holder right in front of me even after my eyes have dark adjusted.

    2. DARK green safelight. I have a little safelight that has three filters in a rotating box. There is one amber and two green filters. One is dark but you can still see that it is green, and another green that is opaque with the lights on, you can't even tell it is on when the regular light is on. It is so dim that the glow-in-the-dark paint on my Graylab timer gives off more light than it. I don't think this is an issue because my trays are no where near the light, and the area where the trays are are it is recessed away from the light. Again, I can't even see my hands in the trays when my eyes are dark adapted. I don't see any evidence of an uneven fog on the negative. I read the article on developing by inspection and it states that one should keep the negative at least 4' away from the light and read the back of the film by reflection. I don't think I would even be able to see the negative four feet away from this light.

    I am thinking this filter is to be used up close by transmission, and the other green filter is to measure by reflection at a further distance. The translucent green filter would have to be used with a switch because it is just a little dimmer than an amber light used for ortho film or wet printing.

    The obvious solution would be to turn it off, but the next film I had planned on giving 15% more time without changing any other variables. I also posed this question as I have no experience with these green safelights, and maybe someone could chime in here, and give me some useful information about the two different density green filters. How can the be used effectively. Does it really need to be turned off if it is no brighter than the glow paint on the timer.

    Thanks for reading this marathon post, but I would like to learn as much as possible from the old hands out there.

    Regards,
    Chris Maness

  2. #2
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    Since you can do one sheet at a time, crank up some scientific method, and change only one variable at a time.

    The first variable I would try out would be to load and develop in total darkness.

    The first flat neg may be the side effect of light fogging, i.e. giving some density where the camera exposure contributed none of the effect to the density that ended up on the negative. This will give all sorts of weirdness to the curve of the neg, and hence the overall tonality, that added development will not necessarily be satisfactory in overcoming.

    I have processed c-41 and ra-4 in trays in total darkness. It can be done. Is it exciting after a while? No. Get a radio or CD player or ipod to keep you company in the dark.
    my real name, imagine that.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Wilde View Post
    Since you can do one sheet at a time, crank up some scientific method, and change only one variable at a time.

    The first variable I would try out would be to load and develop in total darkness.

    The first flat neg may be the side effect of light fogging, i.e. giving some density where the camera exposure contributed none of the effect to the density that ended up on the negative. This will give all sorts of weirdness to the curve of the neg, and hence the overall tonality, that added development will not necessarily be satisfactory in overcoming.

    I have processed c-41 and ra-4 in trays in total darkness. It can be done. Is it exciting after a while? No. Get a radio or CD player or ipod to keep you company in the dark.
    Thanks, after reading up on fogging I decided to go against my gut and use the scientific method ;o). My gut was right. I was not able to see any difference with the safelight off and the door completely gaffer's taped. The reason being is the area where I am developing is recessed away from any stray light. However, I have decided there is no point in using the develop by inspection if I have good notes and a darkroom timer. I might want to use it if I have decided that I screwed something up, and there is no way of knowing a correct time.

    Thanks for responding to my incredibly long post ;o)

    Chris

  4. #4

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    You need to use a footswitch for the green filter. only turn it on about halfway through the dev process...as far as the negatives go you need to shoot at least 4 negatives in the same light;subject and then proceed to dev them at different intervals. not at all that difficult to find a right time for the dev process
    Best, Peter
    website down for maintenance!

  5. #5
    Luseboy's Avatar
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    I'm not sure why you don't use the 68 deg F development temp, this is what i use for everything, i believe it is the standard. I know that can affect your contrast. Also, I have had significantly bad affects from poor agitation with 4x5 negs. Might want to bump up agitation a little. I'd say keep the safelight off, it's not worth having it on if you can barely see it anyways. I have never done tray processing with film, so i don't know what else you can try.
    hope you figure everything out!
    -Austin

  6. #6

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    Remember that you can't use any safelight until development is half completed; then you can use the dark green for a few seconds only. I prefer to stay in the dark when forced to develop in a tray (fortunately very seldom). Since developing takes a while, you really will need to fix any light leaks. Duct tape, supplemented as needed by multiple layers of black paper or plastic, works as a temporary fix. The old method of shuffling sheets of film in the solutions works, but it takes some practice to perfect the technique. I am not really that well coordinated, so one sheet at a time is the rule. In any case, use trays one size larger than the film size. Tray development uses continuous agitation and often uses more concentrated developer. That means development time has to be adjusted (shortened). Instructions for adjusting the time may be hard to find for modern films. For a starting guess (based on the recommendations for Ansco 17) cut the development time by about 20 percent. You also might try to find a Unidrum on ebay or somewhere else. The common variety will process one sheet of 8X10 or 2 sheets of 5X7 very conveniently in the light.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by nworth View Post
    Remember that you can't use any safelight until development is half completed; then you can use the dark green for a few seconds only. I prefer to stay in the dark when forced to develop in a tray (fortunately very seldom). Since developing takes a while, you really will need to fix any light leaks. Duct tape, supplemented as needed by multiple layers of black paper or plastic, works as a temporary fix. The old method of shuffling sheets of film in the solutions works, but it takes some practice to perfect the technique. I am not really that well coordinated, so one sheet at a time is the rule. In any case, use trays one size larger than the film size. Tray development uses continuous agitation and often uses more concentrated developer. That means development time has to be adjusted (shortened). Instructions for adjusting the time may be hard to find for modern films. For a starting guess (based on the recommendations for Ansco 17) cut the development time by about 20 percent. You also might try to find a Unidrum on ebay or somewhere else. The common variety will process one sheet of 8X10 or 2 sheets of 5X7 very conveniently in the light.
    I have a Unicolor drum, but I was under the impression that it will only work for 4 sheets of 4x5" or 1 8x10".

    Chris

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by kq6up View Post
    I have a Unicolor drum, but I was under the impression that it will only work for 4 sheets of 4x5" or 1 8x10".

    Chris
    With the slide in place (as for 4X5, but without the clips), you can put in two pieces of 5X7 paper. This device was originally intended to allow you to make 5X7 prints.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by nworth View Post
    With the slide in place (as for 4X5, but without the clips), you can put in two pieces of 5X7 paper. This device was originally intended to allow you to make 5X7 prints.
    Oh, I have never seen the slide. Can something be improvised? I have two Unicolor drums. I have used them a lot, but I have recently moved to a holder that fits in a Paterson tank and does 6 4x5" sheets. The Unicolors LEAK like crazy.

    Chris

  10. #10

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    I'm not sure. The slide is a 10 inch long piece of fairly flexible plastic that attaches to the midline bump on the top inside of the drum. It forms a pair of additional flanges similar to the molded flanges on the bottom inside that hold the paper/film in place.



 

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