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  1. #1

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    Developing many small prints

    I'm wondering if anybody has suggestions for equipment or procedures to handle processing several (say, half a dozen or more) small (4x6 or 5x7) prints. I'm fairly new in the darkroom, and I've found that trying to do more than two or three prints in a standard set of 8x10 trays is just extremely awkward. Maybe I'm just lacking the practice. I was thinking, though, of trying this: Get a watertight box (probably plastic, perhaps Tupperware or something similar), fit it with dividers (plastic screen material, say) to keep the prints separated, and use it something like a film developing tank, pouring developer, stop, and fixer in and out. Obviously this won't permit developing by inspection, but my goal is to get a set of OK-but-not-great small enlargements from a roll of film rather than perfect 8x10 or larger enlargements. Has anybody tried anything like this? If so, any tips on containers to use? Or does somebody have suggestions for alternative methods of achieving my goal? Thanks.

  2. #2
    eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srs5694
    I'm wondering if anybody has suggestions for equipment or procedures to handle processing several (say, half a dozen or more) small (4x6 or 5x7) prints.
    That's not much, but an 8x10 tray might be too small if you want to be efficient
    like this? If so, any tips on containers to use? Or does somebody have suggestions for alternative methods of achieving my goal? Thanks.
    (For RC paper)
    1. Expose 1 paper and see how long it takes to get a decent print.
    2. Expose as many as you want and keep put it back in the box
    3. Put 2 back to back and then stack them
    4. Put them in developer and shuffle them like a deck of cards starting from the bottom (I *think* one of AA books has this method but I haven't seen that book in a while).

    You'll need to use your hands. Are you using tongs? Maybe that's whay you are getting limited to just a few at a time.

  3. #3

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    I gang process 5X7s all the time. I print a roll of 35mm or 120 5X7 rather than make a contact proof sheet. I use a 11X14 tray and can develop 6 to ten at a time. It just takes practice.

  4. #4

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    Buy a used Jobo 2830. It'll do 4 5x7s at once. Used it won't cost too much. Make life even easier get a Unicolor motorbase and put the tank on that. Works fine for RC.

  5. #5

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    One method that can be used to process a large number of prints at one time is to dilute your print developer so tha you have a processing time of say 4 minutes. It is much easier to develop multiple prints to the same contrast and density with a longer developing time.

    Of course you would have to make your test print/ strip with the increased processing time to get yourself set up to go.

  6. #6
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    If you can find one at a reasonable price, another option is to use a multiprint easel, which will let you print several small prints on a larger sheet, and then you can cut them up when they are dry. For instance, you could expose 4 3.5X5's on an 8x10" sheet, shuffle 9 sheets through the developer once you get the hang of it, and print a whole roll of 35mm in no time.

    Meanwhile, though, practice and larger trays can help.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  7. #7
    Bob F.'s Avatar
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    Try a larger tray - I can do 6 postcards at a time in a 12 x 16 tray without too much hassle (you will need about 2 litres of chemicals per tray). If you decide to use your hands and shuffle the prints, use gloves.

    If you do this often you could make a "slosher" cradle to fit the 12x16" trays - a simpler DIY version of this: (http://www.summitek.com/cradle.html) might work. They are normally used for sheet film, but I can't see any reason why paper can't be used. Do a search on here for "slosher" for more info.

    Cheers, Bob.

  8. #8

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I've just ordered a 4-up easel off of eBay. If I can do two or three (or more, with practice) 8x10s in a tray at once, that'll help speed things up a lot. The comment about the "slosher" cradle has also gotten me thinking about building a sort of basket with dividers out of plastic screen material or something similar. That could be dunked in appropriately-sized tubs of chemistry for doing however many prints I like in one shot. I'll have to go to the hardware store and see what I can scrounge up for raw materials....

  9. #9

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    I do 4 postcards at a time (2 groups of 2 back to back) in 8x10 trays. I did do 8 in 12x16 trays once but was still working with std 1min devl time and it was a bit chaotic... they tended to move around and get mixed up amongst each other and then I didn't know which ones went in 1st versus last! 4 at a time works nicely in that by the time I exposes and process, the ones in the wash have had enough time.

    Since you're actually wanting to do different frames then Davids suggestion, which you've followed up, is the easiest way to go assuming the size of the prints you get are ok. I have one of these (Durst Commask) which leaves a white border around each print, so you end up with 3 1/2" x 4 1/2" (I think) prints. You need a red filter under your enlarger lens to use this efficiently as you'll need to reposition the easel each frame, unless you print full frame and have some location marks on the baseboard to get the easel in the right spot for each of the 4 segments.

  10. #10

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    Doesn't the easel have a focussing panel? I've got a 16x20 multi-image easel. It's a Beseler IIRC. To focus you insert the solid inserts in place. I think the thing was really designed for printing a portrait set. Maybe class pictures? They would all be printed on a 16x20 sheet then processed. Cut up later. I forget exactly what sizes it produces but using different inserts you can vary the final results. I want to say it produced everything from 2x3 to 8x10 on a single sheet but it's been sitting on a shelf for awhile.

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