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Thread: Printing Murals

  1. #1

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    Printing Murals

    Hello All,
    This is my first post here, although I have followed the forum for some time and found answers among the posts and replies.
    I've had many years of experience as a professional photographer, and went digital, like the rest of the commercial world in 2007, but I'm taking a leap and returning to traditional methods.
    I am in the process of planning a darkroom to print large black and white prints, at least 48" width and wondered if anybody had any experience or know-how they would like to share.
    My present darkroom is a good size, recently set up and capable of handling paper sizes up to 20 x30", but I have a great client who wants to push the envelope and see just how big a print is possible.

    Does anybody have any advice on tanks/trays/troughs? I'd love to try and minimize the handling of the paper through the various baths and wanted to ask if anybody had ever used HUGE tanks to omit 'rolling' the paper through the chemicals?
    I realise that handling a flat sheet of 6 foot x4 foot paper may be a challenge, but if I were to fabricate 7 foot x 5 foot tanks (I am looking at some pretty big spaces to install this darkroom btw.)

    I have read with interest the posts by Bob Carnie and Frotog on these issues and would love to hear any views members who have experience of large format printing may have on this.

    Thanks in advance,
    Andrew Hall

  2. #2
    In the desert...
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    Re: Printing Murals

    Touch base with Clyde Butcher.

  3. #3

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    Re: Printing Murals

    many years go I printed some up.. like 4 foot x 6 or 8 foot long

    I had a MCX45 enlarger (the big beseler whatever the number is) and the head turned horizontal

    and then I binderclipped the paper to a .. I think table on it's side


    for processing..I built frames from 2x4's and put plastic visclean - plastic over them to make trays

    since I didn't have room in the darkroom.. I put them outside and printed on a moonless night and processed outside on the driveway

    I used a mop to slop the chemicals around

    okay..they came out spotty and ununiformly processed.. but the subject matter kind of worked with it..so I was happy

  4. #4
    Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Re: Printing Murals

    I was going to say TALK with Bob Carnie, as in call him on the telephone. Before you build/renovate a space and spend time/money doing so, it might behoove you to go and check out a lab or two that are still offering optical printing in this size range. Seeing how they work might help you streamline your process.

    A friend of mine made some very large prints from 6x7cm b/w negatives. He enlarged them using a Beseler 23CII enlarger, flipped up(to project horizontally), onto a wall easel he made of 1/32" thick sheet steel, screwed to the wall studs w/ 1/2"x2" furring strips between the steel plate and the wall. He used magnet strips to hold the paper up against the steel(which he painted black btw, both to protect the steel, but also to minimize reflection back into the paper). Worked well for him. He used gardening planter boxes to scroll process the large(40x50" or so sized sheets) in his kitchen. He made a vertical print washer, where each print was separated from the next by some plastic chicken-coop material. He used 8" ID ABS pipe to construct the vertical washing tube. All standard, off-the-shelf parts/fittings were used. He hung the prints to dry from his clothesline in the back yard, so they could bake under the LA sun(he was printing during the summer). Weights attached to the bottom corners of the paper allowed the paper to dry w/o much curling.

    Low tech I know, but he spent under $150 to make everything, and only had to go to Home Depot ONCE(as in one trip) as soon as he had his shopping list.

    Similar "liner" box to what my buddy used(although his were the 48" long version):
    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Penningto...7831/202962891

    With prints of this size, you'll want to have a suitable enlarging lens(well, I guess it depends on what size film you're enlarging, so magnification ratio), and really pay attention to ALIGNMENT. Nothing worse than having a sharp, well shot negative ruined by a mis-aligned enlarger or easel.

    -Dan

  5. #5

    Re: Printing Murals

    Alignment is the key. Then the G-type lens (Rodagon-G or G-Componon). Much of everything else, as others elaborated, can be found in your local hardware store, construction site or junkyard and cobbled-up in few afternoons. Lots of patience required.
    If you want to do the alignment properly, I have a razor-sharp 4x5" Schneider glass negative from the 50s with an excellent pattern that I can contact-print and develop for you just for the price of shipping to the EU and back to wherever you are.

  6. #6

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    Re: Printing Murals

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewHall View Post
    Hello All,


    Does anybody have any advice on tanks/trays/troughs? I'd love to try and minimize the handling of the paper through the various baths and wanted to ask if anybody had ever used HUGE tanks to omit 'rolling' the paper through the chemicals?
    I realise that handling a flat sheet of 6 foot x4 foot paper may be a challenge, but if I were to fabricate 7 foot x 5 foot tanks (I am looking at some pretty big spaces to install this darkroom btw.)

    I have read with interest the posts by Bob Carnie and Frotog on these issues and would love to hear any views members who have experience of large format printing may have on this.

    Thanks in advance,
    Andrew Hall
    You would be unwise to "omit rolling" in this process. Flat wet paper has the rigidity of a wet noodle and will crimp when handling in more ways than you can now imagine. There is no benefit at all to processing in huge tanks. Besides destroying the print, you will waste valuable time in setting up and striking down your set up.

    My process is nothing special - I learned from people at Gus Kayafas' Palm Press lab. Everyone else who actually successfully makes large b/w's murals on a regular basis pretty much does it the same way - rolling the print in a trough. Contacting artists/techs who do this on a regular basis will not be of any help as they will all say the same thing - roll your print through troughs. Of course there are a few outliers who've designed Rube Goldberg-like contraptions that will get the job done though I can't say for sure how well they get the job done and at what cost. The lab rats in orange jump-suits at Bob's process much the same way I do but with ten times as much chemistry (and a slightly different technique of rolling). I maintain that all you need is a gallon of working chem. and a rolling position with the hands placed about a foot apart instead of reaching for the edges of the paper (not sure why you'd want your face so close to the chemical process). The most laborious aspect of getting started is making yourself a tray. Mine are out of s.s. sheet - 52" long, 12" wide, 4" deep. I prefer using two trays but one can successfully process archival murals in one tray if space is at a premium.

    It seems like two or three times a year someone asks this question. They automatically assume that it must be a daunting task and so come up with equally daunting solutions. Do yourself a favor and take the well-trodden path and see how easy it is because anything else will send you down the Goldberg rabbit-hole.

  7. #7
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Printing Murals

    I only roll process the long paper from the Lambda 30 inch by 15 ft has been my largest single sheet of fibre paper that way, and yes I do use a ton of chemistrys for all my work , probably double than most workers, for enlarger prints up to 40 x50 I use large custom trays much like what you would see in a Clyde Butcher Video.

  8. #8

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    Re: Printing Murals

    Rolling in trays seems pretty intuitive. How do you wash and dry the mural prints? Likewise how do you mount a FB print that large? I imagine the curl could be excessive.

  9. #9

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    Re: Printing Murals

    [QUOTE=frotog;1163591]You would be unwise to "omit rolling" in this process. Flat wet paper has the rigidity of a wet noodle and will crimp when handling in more ways than you can now imagine. There is no benefit at all to processing in huge tanks. Besides destroying the print, you will waste valuable time in setting up and striking down your set up.



    Thanks for the reply Frotog, but isn't Clyde Butcher processing large prints flat in his videos? He seems to slide from one to the next without any problems.
    What I don't see, is how to wash, dry and flatten fiber based prints in his videos.
    Any body have any insight on that part of the process?

  10. #10
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Printing Murals

    A mural enlarger, such as a De Vere 810H, makes this a lot easier. Something like a Versalab parallel helps a lot, as alignment is very important. Another resource would be to contact J. Shimon Julie Lindemann, http://www.shimonlindemann.com/info/, in the past they made some pretty big prints from 8x10 negs.
    “You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.”
    ― Alexander Den Heijer, Nothing you don't already know

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