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Thread: Developer trays

  1. #1
    Jeffery Dale Welker
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Mesa, Arizona

    Developer trays

    I recently obtained a copy of John Cyr’s wonderful book "Developer Trays" -

    Besides Mr. Cyr's fine photographs, his forward, and Lyle Rexer's introduction, the size of each tray and (in some cases) how long the photographer has been using it are listed. In a couple of cases, provenance is noted. i.e. Neil Selkirk uses a tray from Richard Avedon's darkroom to print Diane Arbus' work. Talk about channeling some mojo.

    I thought it might be interesting to ask members of LFPF the type (material/brand) and size of their favorite developer tray.

    As I work to complete my home darkroom next month, I'll be using my late father's stainless steel developer tray that came from his commercial darkroom. It is a 16x20 inch tray (manufacturer unknown) that he used for decades before his retirement and passing. I love thinking about the literal thousands of prints that passed through his developer tray?

    How about you? What is your developer tray story?
    Last edited by Salmo22; 8-Nov-2020 at 22:09.
    "I have this feeling of walking around for days with the wind knocked out of me." - Jim Harrison

  2. #2
    Maris Rusis's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Noosa, Australia.

    Re: Developer trays

    Instead of a photographic style developer tray I changed to a red polythene Kleenmaid dish washing tray from the camping supplies store. It's deeper than a tray for better splash control. Over the decades it has become coated inside with a beautiful gleaming layer of matte finish silver.
    Photography:first utterance. Sir John Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society. "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..".

  3. #3
    Eric Woodbury
    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Re: Developer trays

    I have all flavors. I like hard rubber trays and enamel trays. Both are fairly rare and finding a seller with reasonable prices and low shipping for more than one tray is unusual. Stainless is okay. The Cesco white trays, both plain and dimple bottom are ok. Those cheap, shallow Arkay trays are probably the worst. I ditched those a few years back.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    South Dakota

    Re: Developer trays

    I've come to prefer the hard rubber trays with ridges on the bottom.

    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  5. #5
    John Olsen
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Whidbey Island, WA

    Re: Developer trays

    Five years ago an older LFer on our island asked me to buy a bunch of his stuff. A lot of it was covered with mold and the rest reflected unjustified expectations of value. I did buy a 16x20 plastic tray with nice protrusions on the bottom as an extra for my setup, but threw away the boxes of moldy paper he pressed on me. Every time I used the "new" tray I thought of his 1984 Calumet field view camera. Finally, after 2 more knee operations I realized that I needed to down-weight my stuff; I went back and bought his camera last year for about what he paid for it. I've used it a lot in the last year and now have two reasons to think of my older colleague. Sometimes the trays do make connections.

  6. #6
    Ironage's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Groton, Connecticut

    Re: Developer trays

    Thatís a lot of trays!

    I like the Patterson trays. Very rigid.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  7. #7
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Humboldt County, CA

    Re: Developer trays

    I took my first photo class in 1977 and volunteered in the darkroom. We had a double set of 12x16 SS trays. They were old when I got there and were still in perfect condition when I left in 2013. The prints that went thru those trays would number in the millions perhaps. That would be interesting to try to figure out. For fifty years; 125 students at any one quarter, 3 quarters per year. Conservative: 100 sheets of paper per student per quarter (9 weeks). 125 students/quarter x 3quarters/yr x 100 shts/quarter x 50 years = a little over 1.8 million pieces of photo paper.

    The trays looked new...except for a minor couple dents along the way. Clean up wonderfully...but had to, that black sliver that coats Maris' trays also comes off on the prints.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2015

    Re: Developer trays

    I've used the same trays for so long--40+ years--that I'm not sure I recall the manufacturer, but I believe they're Arkay; regardless, 11x14 stainless steel x3.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Aug 2004

    Re: Developer trays

    those plastic rectangular chineese take out trays work perfectly for 4x5 negs for me. i dont develope many in a session so no need for bulk developing systems.

    for printing i have those big B&H plastic trays.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Re: Developer trays

    I've got a bunch and I've given many away so I'm working from memory here.
    For the really large stuff I have Ce$co plastics.
    My most used are 11x14 Kodak Duraflex, mainly because they're pretty Kodak yellow
    5x7 format get the very first set of trays I bought as a high school student---cheap green ones with a circle "K" embossed on the bottoms.
    For 4x5 there is a set of ancient stainless steel that showed up quite mysteriously---probably a gift as they'd be pricey and I'm kind of a cheapskate.
    I do recollect having some nice hard rubbers at one time, but they broke
    There are also sets of the ubiquitous Pattersons and Aristas haunting the place
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

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