Silly question: Processing a whole lot of papers at once
I am going to make a crap-a-load of proof sheets tomorrow.
I believe I can't just gunk 50 papers or so into the tray and hope it would come out perfect.
How should I go about processing large amounts of paper?
you can start slow with 2 or 3 pairs at once
and eventually you will be able to do them in runs, maybe 16 sheets at a time
( get some latex gloves ... )
put the paper back to back and between your fingers
dunk the ones between your pinky and 4th finger on both hands first
( into the developer )
then the ones between thumb and index
then 4th and middle
then index and middle ...
don't be slow / shy ...
because your prints will finish at different times if
you are too slow
put your hand in the soup and shuffle the prints so
each print-group gets flipped a few .. 4 -5 times
rock the tray for the rest of the developing time ...
then in the stop then fix then running water ..
then your next group ...
it isn't hard once you get the hang of it ..
making all your exposures at once like this can be a
real PITA when you have to redo a proof sheet
since you have to search to find it in the pile ...
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Use a machine...
Or you can put about 8-10 in the developer at once in a tray and lift the bottom one with tongs to the top of the stack over and over again until done and then put them in stop baths or water baths, after putting the last one in the stop/water bath then move that batch to fixer starting from the bottom one, probably best to do 2-tray fixing, 30s first tray, then water, then finish them later in the second fixer bath, then transfer to a running water rinse bath, then transfer to wash tray and do the same shuffle agitation before final rinse. Do 5 batches of 10 or 6 batches of 8 would be my recommendation. You'll need lots of dryer space too.
With fiber you will likely need to change the second fixer tray for the first one in the mid point (after 30 prints) and then put a fresh second fix tray in place, otherwise you will have exhausted fixer. Watch the color of your indicator stop bath as well, make sure your developer doesn't go too brown either. If so, replace them.
I've been doing two contact-sheets at a time back-to-back in the tray and a friend told me does four at a time. I did 21 sheets from start to finish in about two hours last time, by exposing them one by one and putting them aside in one of those plastic darkbags that the paper comes in. When all the sheets were exposed, I did the processing.
“Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.” - Lao Tzu
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It isn't a silly question at all!
All the advice above is excellent. If I were you I would consider starting with something like 4 sheets at a time and then increase as you gain experience.
If it were me, I would have a nitrile glove on one hand and no glove on the other. I would use the gloved hand to do the agitation, rather than tongs. And I would have running water available to rinse the gloved hand where and when necessary.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
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Thanks for the quick and helpful tips all,
Cool. Didn't think about that.
Originally Posted by jnanian
If I had my own darkroom and cash overspilling out from my bank, maybe I would, ahahahah.
Originally Posted by hpulley
I remember reading about weaving the papers somewhere. But won't the papers like, stick together in the processing tray?
Don't do multi developing.
At the start of my career I was a printer at the Birmingham Post & Mail commercial photography studio. Our boss was a martinet, that's being polite about him! I learned the hard way, developing playing cards style makes it really difficult to judge when a print is "done" and equally hard to do it by time & temperature. Stains seem to miraculously appear too. With the cost of paper, and if you want the best prints, better to take a bit more time. Also, RC papers are harder to do this way than fibre base. My advice is, do it the slow way, waste less paper and get top quality prints that remain long term.
I'd use an assistant to help you move the prints along, and just do two at a time to play it safe. You can also use multiple trays.
But from what I have read, you don't want to let exposed paper sit too long before developing it, as it can change the contrast quite a bit.
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When I do this (I did 210 prints over three days a few weeks ago) I work on getting the exposure and contrast right after the paper has sat with modest agitation in the developer for four minutes FB or three minutes RC. ( check for dry down with FB too) Then there are no surprises if I am a bit slow to pull the print from the developer.
I expose about 16 at a time, and process them in trays at least twice as large as the print sizethat are also quite full of solution. Prints go in face down, pushed under with the wet hand being fed prints with the dry hand. Whe all are in, flip the stack, and start flipping print to the 'empty' half of the tray, one at a time. Don't scrimp on time in the stop bath, flip there as well, and then extra vigilant with fix 1, fix 2, rinse, and hypo clear agitation and flip cycles.
I was doing 5x7, and washed them with a tray syphon in a 20x24 tray. Volumes come down to the limit pf my peterson rack washer when print sizes are larger.
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