Very nice aaronmichel!
I wanted to answer because you asked - even though it won't matter until you get brave enough to do several sheets - that when shuffling... Shuffling itself causes enough agitation. And yes, a sharp corner of one sheet dragging across the emulsion is something to avoid. Emulsion-up rules out tray ridges as a possible source of scratches.
I agree with mjs: start with two sheets and increase as your skill level increases. I like doing four at a time, but I'm still on the upslope of my learning curve.
There are some good videos on YouTube (type in "processing sheet film in trays"). I prefer 5x7 trays. I find the film moves around with the rocking in anything larger, and I lose track of the order not to mention the risk of scratching while trying to gather them up. With a 5x7 tray, I can easily collect the pile at the end of the tray and pick the bottom sheet out. I put the notch codes of the bottom sheet at the top and flip all the other sheets 180 degrees so I know how much each sheet has been shuffled.
My last suggestion is to practice in daylight with wasted film. When I bought my used film holders, there was film in them. I saved them for practicing.
Not bad, not bad at all! To answer your earlier question, I'm careful about the freshness of my D-76 because T-max films get unpredictably wonky with partially oxidized developer. That said, "fresh" D-76 is what's in my darkroom and what I use for all my film... because it's what I have! I use Arista.edu and Ilford in 8x10 and Arista.edu in 5x7. Depending on exposure, etc. I'll either use D-76 or PMK Pyro with these films. Sorry that I can't help you with how partially oxidized D-76 works with Arista or other films.
Originally Posted by aaronmichael
Regarding your fingerprints; yes, gloves will help. Keep in mind that Arista.edu is a relatively soft film in that the emulsion doesn't have hardeners in it like Kodak or Ilford film does. Especially at elevated temperatures (greater than 70 deg. F.) it easily takes fingerprints. You really have to learn to handle it by the edges and don't drop it! :)
Thanks for the feedback. I'll definitely try loading in the light in order to practice. I wasn't aware about the Arista film not having any hardeners in it, thanks for the information. I'll just have to be really careful about loading it. I think my problem was that I was trying to load it from where the light trap at the bottom starts - instead of feeling for the start of the grooves and then sliding it in from there. Doing some more shooting tomorrow of my sister and hopefully heading up to Los Angeles on Saturday. Hopefully the shots I take come out alright. I think I'll develop one sheet and see how it comes out, and then base my development times of the other photographs off of that.
Went out to LA to shoot today and hopefully developing on Monday. I think I'm going to tray process one at at time in HC-110 dilution H for 7.5 minutes. I found a couple other posts about Arista.EDU Ultra that said that dilution + the film was a great combination. I developed my first 4x5 shot in HC-110 dilution B though for 5 minutes and it came out a little thin. I've heard that Arista EDU.Ultra develops fast in HC-110 dilution B so maybe my negative was underexposed.