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Thread: How to do tray processing - both regular and stand?

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  1. #1

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    How to do tray processing - both regular and stand?

    Hi all,

    Ive never developed negative film, neither BW nor C41. Ive developed lots of E6 and BW reversal using a Jobo (always several films at the same time).

    However, I tought Id develop some C41 and BW neg film - one sheet at the time - in which case starting the Jobo might be more of a hassle then help considering the numbers of steps are less for negative film.

    For 8x10 I tought doing this in trays would be a nice way to do it. But, how are you folks doing this? I'm particularly curious on how to agitate trays and when/how you wash the film?

    Also, did anyone do stand development in trays for 8x10 film - how?

    Cheers
    Peter

  2. #2

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    Re: How to do tray processing - both regular and stand?

    I guess the obvious answer is to refer you to Ansel Adams "The Negative" for great instructions on how to process film in trays.

    If you're intent on doing 10x8 sheet film individually, then you could either go for traditional tray processing OR get hold of a Paterson Orbital tray which is configurable for 5x4 (4 sheets), 5x7 (2 sheets) or 10x8 (1 sheet) and is a daylight tray once loaded.

    Trays are agitated by rocking, or by swapping multiple sheets over, from the bottom of the stack to the top at regular intervals.

    Mike

  3. #3
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    Re: How to do tray processing - both regular and stand?

    Long ago I used a Heathkit Color Canoe to develop single sheets of 8x10 film. This tray has a curved bottom that requires perhaps 1.5 ounces of each chemical per sheet. The tray is rocked back and forth for agitation. It can be floated in a larger tray for temperature control. Color Canoes an perhaps similar trays from other makers may appear for sale online.

  4. #4

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    Re: How to do tray processing - both regular and stand?

    Egads, what suggestions. The special trays mentioned are nice, but difficult to find.
    for 8x10 - get an 11x14 smooth bottom tray, or one with depressed slots running lengthwise.
    Put the developer of choice in the tray, about 8-10 ounces is sufficient. Put the same amount of water in a second tray, and fixer in a third.
    Here is a simple but very effective method which has served me well for over 80 years.
    Place the film inthe developer emulsion up and tapit with a knuckle to assure it is submerged.
    Lift each corner in succession 1-1/5" for 30 seconds. then each 30 seconds lift 3 corners as previously. Continue until time has elapsed, then lift film by a corner,let it drain for about 15 seconds and place in second tray. Agitate as before for 1 minute then follow the same procedure and place in fixer. agitate in a similar manner for a minute then turn on the light and continue for twice as long as it takes to clear the film.
    To wash, empty the 1st 2 trays and fill with water. Move film from fixer tofirst trayand agitate for a minute, then move to 2nd tray and repeat. continue this for 5 minutes,then add LFN or a drop or 2 of dishwashing liquid detergent in one of the trays. Agitate the film in this for one minute then hang to dry.
    Good luck and have fun!

  5. #5

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    Re: How to do tray processing - both regular and stand?

    You'll get as many methods for tray developing as there are people doing it. Here's mine: [Edit: I just posted this and saw how long it was... Don't despair, it's really much harder to describe than to do. Take the time to slog through this, I think it will be helpful.]

    I learned the AA shuffling method years ago and it has served me well. I prefer trays with grooves in the bottom (Paterson) and not the ones with ridges (they'll scratch the film) or flat ones (the film has a tendency to stick).

    I develop film in a tray one size larger than the film, e.g., 11x14 tray for 8x10 film in your case (I shoot 4x5 and use deep 5x7 trays).

    Get everything set up with the lights on: trays for pre-soak (if you do that), developer, stop, fix and a water holding tray. Make sure all solutions are the temperature you need before starting. I use a Zone VI compensating developing timer, but any timer with a dim LED readout that is shielded from the developer tray will work just fine. Old Gralab timers work just fine too. A footswitch for the timer is nice.

    Get your film holder(s) laid out, make sure you know where everything is and how to find your way around in the dark. Now is the time to don your nitrile gloves if you wear them (I always do). Now turn off the lights. Unload your filmholder(s) and get to work. (Note: unloading filmholders with gloves on is not as easy as without them, but easier than trying to put on the gloves in total darkness... at least for me. If you have trouble getting the film out of the holder, breathe gently on it a time or two and then wait a few seconds. The film will buckle from the humidity and you'll be able to get a finger under it).

    How you submerge and agitate the film is important. I find that tray rocking is inadequate, but some use it with success. I usually develop several sheets of film at a time, so tray rocking is out anyway. I shuffle from the bottom of the stack to the top.

    The basic technique is simple but really worth practicing with scrap sheets first to get the hang of it. First, fan the sheets of film in your hand so you can grab each individually easily. With 8x10 film, I'd only do two to four sheets at a time. Immerse a sheet emulsion-side-up by laying it on top of the solution and pushing it down gently (not quickly, or you'll get surge at the edges) with a slight rocking motion. Repeat with the next sheet in five-second intervals (or longer - more later). To agitate, pull a sheet from the bottom of the stack by lifting the ones above it slightly and pulling the bottom sheet out smoothly and almost flatly. If you lift up too fast, you'll drag it along a corner of the films above it and scratch it. Once the sheet is out, turn it 180 and re-immerse it on the top of the stack, pushing down gently and slowly as before. Be sure the film hits the solution flat; if you put it in corner-first, you'll scratch the film below it. I like to keep the stack of film together in one end of the tray; don't let them float around randomly, but keep them corralled with one hand while the other does the shuffling.

    I like to go through the stack once every 30 seconds, so I adjust my shuffling interval accordingly. Six sheets needs five-second intervals; easy with 4x5 film, but likely too hectic with larger film. Three sheets need 10-second intervals, two sheets, 15 second intervals, etc. If you are only developing one sheet, agitate at 15 second intervals by lifting the film out, turning it 180 and re-immersing it. This is exactly the same as once through the stack in 30 seconds with more films.

    Okay, let's go step-by-step: If you presoak, immerse the films one at a time in the pre-soak. If you are developing more than one sheet, leave 10 seconds or so between sheets or they will stick together. This is not disastrous in the pre-soak, but can be in the developer! Don't develop several sheets at once in the developer without pre-soaking them. If films stick together, be patient and work them slowly apart from a corner. It can take several minutes. The pre-soak time needs to be two to five minutes. I like longer. Keep track of which film you started with by turning it so the code notches are 180 from the rest.

    After the pre-soak, gather the films together in a corner of the tray, making sure the first film is on the bottom of the stack. Lift them to drain, and fan them out again. Start your timer (footswitch!) and immerse the films into the developer using the shuffle interval you have chosen (e.g., one film every 10 seconds if you're developing three sheets). Now just keep your interval; lift a film out of the solution, turn it, and re-immerse it, one every shuffle interval so you're going through the stack once every 30 seconds.

    Near the end of the development time, after the last sheet has hit the top of the stack, gather the sheets together, lift them out and let them drain. Fan them out as before and immerse them into the stop one-at-a-time working from the bottom of the stack (sheet #1) using the same interval that you shuffled with. This insures that all sheets get exactly the same development.

    Shuffle in the stop, but now the exact interval is not so important and you don't need to turn the film every shuffle. After the time in the stop is up, gather the sheets together (order is no longer important) and transfer the whole stack to the fix (or whatever - I'm describing black-and-white processing. Color has more steps but the technique is the same. Only the developer needs the right order, right agitation interval and the turning of the film to ensure even developing). Shuffle through the stack for a minute then dip your hands in the water holding tray (to rinse off the fixer) and then turn on the lights.

    The rest of the fixing time can happen with the lights on. Transfer the film to the water rinse tray after the fixing time is up. After a quick rinse, you can begin washing. If you have a slot-type washer of the right size, you can use that. I have dedicated washers for 4x5. If you do 8x10, an 8x10 print washer works great. If you don't have such a washer, you'll need running water in a tray and constant agitation. A tray siphon works, but I prefer a dedicated tray with a row of small holes drilled at one end a the bottom of the tray wall. I just clip a hose to the opposite end and let the water run. If you have several sheets to wash, you'll need to agitate them during the wash time using the same shuffle method. If you're just doing one sheet, do pick it up and re-immerse it several times during the wash to ensure that the back of the film get washed.

    Note that if you're developing one sheet at a time, all you need is 15-second intervals and make sure to turn the film in the developer every shuffle. Once you develop one-at-a-time for a while, you'll want to be able to do more at once. The shuffle technique is really great an allows you to develop as many sheets at one time as you are comfortable with. Tray rocking limits you to one sheet at-a-time.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus

  6. #6

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    Re: How to do tray processing - both regular and stand?

    Brush processing in trays works well. One sheet at a time.

    Richeson or Hake brush works well.

    Dedicated trays - or pyrex glass cooking trays - whatever you like as long as clean and smooth on the bottom so you don't pick up scratches.

    Gentle up and down, then side to side brush technique. Then down and up and side to side the other way. Very clean and even processing.

    If you want direction and feel better that way contact Paula Chamlee at http://www.michaelandpaula.com and set up a workshop with her. Direct demonstration - hands on. She tray processes LF film and has for years. She and her late husband Michael A. Smith both teach it at their workshops. They teach shuffling, not brush development but do show development by inspection using the green safelight.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  7. #7

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    Re: How to do tray processing - both regular and stand?

    Hi all,

    And thanks for very informativ responses - it is much appreciated. I'll start out doing one negative at the time, but to know that its possible to do several is also good. I'll try that as soon as I get good results with single sheets.

    Thanks again :-)

  8. #8

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    Re: How to do tray processing - both regular and stand?

    In the March/April 2005 issue of VIEWCAMERA magazine, pages 40-42, Steve Sherman published a very interesting article on Stand and Semi-Stand Development. Does anyone know if this article is available online? Info in that article would be great for the OP to have and refer to.

  9. #9

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    Re: How to do tray processing - both regular and stand?

    When you start and are using time/temperature guides shoot a few of the same scene, same exposure. Something with good shadows and bright areas as well as mid tones - a scene with a full tonal range.

    First few developing attempts use these negatives.

    Will help a lot getting your developing time right or very close to right for how you handle the negatives in the chemistry.

    Develop the negative and then make a contact print so you see the result easily. Reading the print is usually easier than reading a negative when trying to see the fine detail and differences development brings out. Enjoy the darkroom time with the negatives. Can be relaxing for some of us.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  10. #10

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    Re: How to do tray processing - both regular and stand?

    Thanks again all - and for pointing me in the right direction regarding stand development.

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