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Thread: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Oct 2017

    Re: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    Thanks again, all.

    Yes, I do have the Gordon Hutchins PMK, bought via Photographer's Formulary. I have a sense that the film I'm currently using, being Bergger Pancro 400, has a soft emulsion but this is only a vaguely informed guess on my part. Does anyone know where it is actually made? By Ilford, perhaps? I actually really want to shoot the Adox CHS 100 II for its look, but for the life of me can't find any in sheets.

    Anyway, back to tray processing. My good friends who are very much masters of this stuff keep restating to me that tray processing single sheets is very problematic, siting turbulence at the edges of the sheet that create streaking / areas of higher density. I'm not sure how this could be any worse than with multiple sheets, and maybe I'm wilfully ignorant at best and belligerent at worst, but I'm convinced I can master it. If nothing else, at least doing one sheet at a time will lessen the likelihood of scratching the film. Anyway, part of the reason for going 8x10" from shooting 4x5" and MF digital on Linhof platforms is that I want to slow things down and concentrate on all aspects of the craft again. I'm not experienced with pyro developers and tray processing at all, but I've been shooting view cameras exclusively for a long time now and have been looking forward to experimenting for myself how different film / dev combinations etc might help lead to new territory for my work. I have some specific things I want to try for conceptual reasons, like ultra-long exposures of an area I've been photographing consistently for years, and I like the idea that the pyro might help compress the highlights of an image and help with printing.

    I'm still intrigued with this brush processing technique, too. Must do more reading about it...

  2. #12
    Randy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Virginia, USA

    Re: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    "...tray processing single sheets is very problematic, siting turbulence at the edges of the sheet that create streaking / areas of higher density."

    I agree that this could be a problem, but as some have pointed out, if you use a larger tray, that should minimize that problem. I think the turbulence is worst near the tray wall, so if your sheet of film is farther away from the tray walls, there will be less turbulence.
    I guess an experiment should be done by shooting two identical 4X5 exposures of a scene, then processing one sheet in a 5X7 tray, then the same image in an 8X10 tray with the same agitation method, and compare the edge densities.

    For what it's worth, I have process as many as 18 4X5 sheets at a time in 8X10 trays, gotten what I would consider even development and minimal scratching...what I would consider.

  3. #13
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay area, CA

    Re: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    18 ?? That sure beats my record of 12 4X5's. Usually I just do six or so. Edge surge issues depend on your style of agitation, the size of the tray (hopefully
    it's oversized), the solution volume (more is better), the specific developer, and yes, even on the type of sheet film itself. Thicker emulsions seem much more
    affected than modern thin emulsions. It makes sense, since they absorb and retain more solution. I don't think any true thick emulsion films are still on the market, but products like HP5, and to some extent even FP4, exhibit much more added perimeter fbf than TMax sheet films, whose edges come out completely clear of fog, at least for me. All the EU films I've tested had significant edge density increase - something to factor in when composing in the groundglass to begin with; you want a little extra margin around the ideal composition.

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    La Quinta, CA

    Re: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    Hi Tim,

    I exclusively tray process single sheets of 8 x 10 in PMK, and have done it this way for many years. I have found that it is the most fool proof method for me to eliminate scratches in the negatives. As a couple of others have said, it is crucial that you process your film in trays that are one size larger than the film, so for 8 x 10 film, use 11 x 14 trays. Otherwise, you will get uneven developing around the edges.

    My process - I don't pre-soak my film. It goes directly from the film holders to the developing trays and I do two sheets at a time (two trays with one sheet in each tray). First and foremost - wear gloves in the process. Hold the film from the top and slide the film into the trays from the top toward the bottom and the film will evenly go towards the bottom of the trays. You won't have to push the film down with your fingers. As soon as the film is in the trays, agitate each side of the trays for about 5 seconds and then go the next side. Don't be shy about sloshing the developer in your agitation process. After 30 seconds of continuous agitation, you will have agitated from all four sides of the trays. Then let the trays sit. Then agitate the trays 2 - 3 times every 15 seconds and each time switch to a different side of the trays. I make it easy on myself and the side of the trays I agitate is the same as the direction of the second hand on my timer. Continue this all through the developing time and then transfer to the wash water tray. Note that after the developing, I continue the process with two negatives in a single tray for the rest of the chemicals and then carefully rotate the negs top to bottom. This process is pretty much what Gordon Hutchings says to do in his book and it has worked very well for me.

    Hope this helps.


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