Whatever works for you is what you should use. My original post was in specific reference to plans that Bmac had posted and his reference to those plans being suitable for ULF. In reponse to those plans and for the benefit of sharing experience garnered by others and myself, I shared what my experience was.
I also shoot 12X20 and personally have opted to use a vacuum frame (albeit of smaller size then what you related). A 30X40 vacuum frame is almost four times as large as is needed for a 12X20 negative.
A number of people that visit this site shoot ULF of various sizes. Those that I have knowledge of seem to indicate that they use vacuum frames (the only exceptions that I can recall are David Goldfarb (11X14) and yourself.
Is the frame that you constructed also of a 30X40 inch size?
to dnmilikan and all
No the print frame is big enough for a 1/2 sheet of paper exposeable area is 14x22 or 16x24. The print frame and the rest of my darkroom have been in storage for the past two years I have only been printing my own work 4x5 to 11x14, out in the made over dark area/laundry room lately. 25 years of having a full darkroom and now I work on top of the washer and dryer with plastic bags over the windows. But thats ok the new 100sq/ft darkroom is only a few weeks away. Back to the vac frame I just found it harder to work with. The light source needed to be the moveable part and not the print frames. One frame is not better that the other as long as they are good frames cheep frames are just that cheep and I have had many a student bring them to workshops and class. The 30x40 vac frame was sent to me for the printing job. Non pt/pd printers have no concept as to what is needed to do the job, and I wish that they would come a pick up their frame.
ps if you would like to see some work go to
www.superlarge.com (gallery section)
Originally Posted by dnmilikan
Count me in of the group that uses a sheet of glass instead of the vacuum frame. I print 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14 and 8x20 under glass.
When I was first printing in Platinum I used a sheet of glass laying on top of a wood base. I did that for over 5 years. Then, I bought a plate burner that had a vacuum frame. It worked great but was very big, but I had a big studio space.
When I moved into my current house, I had it in the darkroom for a number of years to use with silver based contact printing. Since I broke it down and moved it to the basement, I have been able to do a lot more work done in the darkroom. And it's much quieter in the darkroom now.
Vacuum frames work great, but they are not required. I have found printing frames are really best used with processes that need to inspect the exposure on the paper (Platinum/Palladium, POP, and others). With Silver based printing you loose the need to open the spring back to see the print exposure, so why go through the hassle of locking the paper into the frame?
The only time I every had a problem with the print and negative staying in contact with each other was with curled paper. And that can be solved with either a double weight sheet of glass or a bigger piece of paper then the negative size. Placing the curl outside the print area.
I have found that a hard surface under the print has worked better for me. A lot of people use softer materials like foam, but either wood or another sheet of glass has worked well for me.