Question about tray ( for print )

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Steven Woody, Jun 10, 2006.

  1. Steven Woody

    Steven Woody Guest


    last month, i've bought three 8x10 trays and about to do 8x10 print.
    but i found 8x10 paper is nearly the same size with the bottom of 8x10
    tray. so my question is, whether i have bought incorretly size of
    tray? i have no idea how can i agitate the paper during the
    processing. is there any tips a agitation method suits the case?


    which side of the paper is the emusion side? those are ILFord
    multi-grade B&W papers. one side is pure white ( say, side A ),
    another side ( say, side B ) is a little pink. the whole paper curled
    to side A, and side A is more dull than side B.


    for a 8x10 tray, how much volumn of solution one at least need to do
    the processing ? i am afraid 500mm is not enough.

    thanks in advance.

    Steven Woody, Jun 10, 2006
    1. Advertisements

  2. Steven Woody spake thus:
    Use the next size larger tray for whatever print size you're making.
    8x10 prints, use 11x14 trays. Agitate by lifting the corners of the tray.
    The emulsion side is the shinier side for all types of paper, including
    RC. Easy to recognize it, even in safelight, once you've done it a
    couple of times.

    Any system of knowledge that is capable of listing films in order
    of use of the word "****" is incapable of writing a good summary
    and analysis of the Philippine-American War. And vice-versa.
    This is an inviolable rule.

    - Matthew White, referring to Wikipedia on his WikiWatch site
    David Nebenzahl, Jun 10, 2006
    1. Advertisements

  3. Be careful of this for matt surface papers. In some cases,
    like the Agfa matt paper I still use, the back is actually
    shinier. Sometimes you have to look at a scrap of the paper
    in the light to find the front and then learn to identify it
    by feel.
    For fiber paper the texture of the back is usually
    obvious. Curling of fresh stock is not always a clue, some
    papers curl toward the emulsion and some toward the backing
    although the emulsion side curl is more common.

    As to amount, one can get away with only 16oz (about
    500ml) in an 8x10 tray but a full liter or quart makes life
    easier. A liter is minimum for 11x14 trays.
    Richard Knoppow, Jun 10, 2006
  4. Steven Woody

    Steven Woody Guest

    oh... bad news :-( but thanks for tell me that. for agitation, i have
    a question: by saying lifting the corner of the tray, did you mean what
    the agitaion do is just agitate the solution not the paper itself ?

    and, the next size tray in local market here i can find is 12x16.
    because my jug gets size up to 1000ml, so i want to know, whether 1L
    volumn of solution is safe enough for this this of tray?
    thanks, i believe you. what confuses me is a book which say, RC paper
    always curled to its emulsion side. but in this case, it obvious that
    the shinier ( emulsion ) side curled to the dull side.
    Steven Woody, Jun 10, 2006
  5. Steven Woody spake thus:
    What's the problem? Yes, you agitate the solution; that moves new
    solution to the surface of the print. Not rocket science here.
    Instead of worrying about it, why don't you just buy the damn tray, pour
    some water in it, then measure how much water is there?

    Any system of knowledge that is capable of listing films in order
    of use of the word "****" is incapable of writing a good summary
    and analysis of the Philippine-American War. And vice-versa.
    This is an inviolable rule.

    - Matthew White, referring to Wikipedia on his WikiWatch site
    David Nebenzahl, Jun 10, 2006
  6. Steven Woody

    Steven Woody Guest

    not a problem, just some book illustrates the the agitation means move
    the paper back and forth in the solution, not exactly same as your

    but i'd rather use your method, if safe enought, it's easier than what
    the book illustrated.

    now this leads me to a thinking: if i only need to agitate the solution
    rather the paper, so i think i can still use the 8x10 tray for 8x10
    paper. because though moving of a 8x10 paper in a 8x10 tray is nearly
    impossible, but moving of solution only is not so hard, is it?. you
    know, i don't want to throw away my tray. so i wanna here more
    suggestion about the problem from you and other experts. thanks!
    yes. i can do it. but you know by pouring water into the tray, i only
    get the height of the water, and i am not so sure how much of the
    height i really need to make the procces safe enought.
    Steven Woody, Jun 10, 2006
  7. I use Calumet "11x14" stainless steel trays for both 8x10 and 11x14 prints.
    These trays are oversize and are 12"x15" on the bottom and almst 13"x16" at
    the top. I use 2 litre of solution in them. For RC paper, that lies more
    flat, I might get away with a little less solution, but I never bother. 2
    litre is enough if you are careful.
    Jean-David Beyer, Jun 10, 2006
  8. Steven Woody

    Greg \_\ Guest

    11x14 trays are better for 8x10 paper- I like 8x10 trays for sheet film
    up to 8x10.

    Paper face down hold one edge with tongs scooting the paper back and
    forth for the first 15 seconds-flip paper push the sheet under chemistry
    and rock the tray in all directions (4).

    The textured side is the emulsion, the duller feeling side is the back.
    sometimes in safelight you can see the emulsion side rather clearly. Or
    just hold one sheet out in room light for a reference,...better still
    process an unexposed sheet then use it for reference and composing in
    your easel as it will be white and a good way to see the image in the
    I seldom mix less than a liter of paper developer at a time & thats
    about as much as you can put into an 8x10 tray.
    Greg \_\, Jun 10, 2006
  9. Steven Woody

    Henry (k) Guest

    Dnia 9 Jun 2006 23:47:13 -0700, Steven Woody napisa³:
    You do the same while developing negatives in tank - you agitate
    whole tank.
    I was learned to have 1cm over paper - so solution has enought place to
    move (for agitation). You should use in 30x40cm minimum ~1500ml
    - would be more comfortable.

    BTW you can use also your current tray as trough - and roll paper thought
    to get it in contact with solution. This is good enough if you do big
    prints only from time to time and don't want to buy big trays.

    Henry (k), Jun 10, 2006
  10. Steven Woody

    Mono Guest

    Woody -

    My answers are not absolute - different folks do things different ways.

    In general, the ideal tray is one standard size larger than the print you
    are making - so for 8x10 prints, you would want 11x14 trays.
    Practically, however, that isn't always possible.

    There are two issues with same-size trays. The first is agitation, and
    the second is how to remove the processed print from the tray. The
    answer to the second question is that you have to work at it and be
    careful to not wrinkle the corner of the print when to lift it out (with
    either tongs or your fingers). Agitation is relatively simple - just
    rock the tray. Actually, agitation by rocking the tray is probably the
    best approach regardless of the size of the print.

    Incidentally, I always start the development process with the print face
    down. Then after 15s or so, I flip it over to finish development. The
    reason for this is that the paper does tend to curl toward the emulsion
    side, but once the emulsion has absorbed developer, the paper flattens
    out. Starting face down means and gently rubbing the rubber-tipped tongs
    on the back of the print keeps it submirged until it flattens and can be
    flipped over.
    You can't distinguish the difference in color under safelight, so you
    have to work by feel. With glossy paper, the face is noticeably smoother
    than the back. Also, the curl tends to be concave on the face.

    Textured papers are more of a challenge, and matt papers are the worst to
    deal with. I have been using some old East German ORWO matt paper for
    hand coloring where it is not possible to distinguish the face from the
    rear by feel. What I have found is that if I gently rub my finger across
    the paper, the sound created on the face is distinctly louder than the
    sound generated by rubbing the back of the paper. But that's something I
    had to learn the hard way - by experimenting with a sacrificial sheet of
    I generally use 11x14 trays for a general printing session. I use liquid
    concentrates of chemicals - either Ilford or Sprint - that mix 1:9 in
    water to make working solutions. I usually mix up 30 oz of working
    solution for an 11x14 tray - and find that's quite adequate to cover a

    The issue then is whether that is enough chemical for a full working
    session, and that is really determined by how long you intend to work and
    how many prints you try to process in that time. I find that with the
    way I work, I exhaust faster than the chemicals. That is, I will
    generally print for about 3-4 hours at a time, producing no more than 24
    11x14 prints (or equivalent of smaller size) - with that number limited
    by the amount of drying screen area that I have to work with. Obviously,
    there are also some prints that don't get to drying screens. The most
    important accessory in a darkroom is a good trash can!

    I prefer to use indicator stop because it changes color when it becomes
    exhausted, and if the stop is exhausted, it's a good bet that the
    developer is also. For this to be a reliable test, however, you need to
    minimize the carryover of developer into the stop by draining prints for
    10s or so at the end of the development step.

    Mono, Jun 10, 2006
  11. Steven Woody

    Steven Woody Guest

    thanks. by saying "roll paper thought", did you mean lifting the paper
    out of the solution and turn it over? if so, the "rolling" method
    makes the paper get more chances of facing to the safelight, is it ok?

    thanks for answering.

    Steven Woody, Jun 10, 2006
  12. Steven Woody

    Steven Woody Guest


    i found you explanation are so important. i still have a few questons,
    please see the inline comments below.

    ok, i get it. i can still use my 8x10 trays. very good news :)
    because my tray get ribs on its bottom, so removing of paper is not a
    rocking the tray is enough? i hope it is ture. but what makes me
    confusing is that some books, such as 'the print' by Adams, suggested
    lifting the paper out and turn it over. how you think about it?
    here i am not so undertand. my paper curl to its back side, not the
    emulsion side. does this mean i should inverse you mehtod and put the
    paper face up then after 15s face down?
    ok, i go to study it in the dark.
    because i will always print one to three prints in one session, so i
    think i have less problem at this :)

    thank you again!

    Steven Woody, Jun 10, 2006
  13. Steven Woody

    Mono Guest

    by saying "roll paper thought", did you mean lifting the

    What Henry meant is holding the edges of the paper, and rocking it
    through the tray of chemical so that only a small section of the print is
    actually immersed in the chemical at any time. The approach allows you
    to process paper that is actually larger than the tray you are using.

    For example, suppose you want to make a 16x20 print but you don't have
    (and don't want to buy) a complete set of 16x20 or 20x24 trays. You put
    your chemicals into a tray that has a 16 inch dimension. One option is
    to use 11x14 trays where the diagonal is 17 inches. Hold the paper on
    the 16 inch edges and gently rock it through the tray, immersing only a
    few inches of paper at a time. You might want to use slightly more
    dilute developer and compensate by extending the development time to
    assure that you get even development. And you probably would want to
    have more chemical in the trays since greater liquid depth makes the
    process easier to manage.

    You can also use a set of wallpaper moistening trays from the home
    center. These are typically 6 inches wide by 24 or 36 inches long.

    Of course, you would still need one full size tray for washing the
    finished print. But you might be able to find a non-photographic
    substitute that works well enough - Rubbermaid storage containers, boot
    trays, or even a temporary jury-rigged tray made by draping a sheet of
    plastic over a wooden frame.

    Your followup question mentions "facing the safelight". If the safelight
    is truly "safe", there is no problem with the print facing it during
    development. One of the tests you should perform in a new darkroom is to
    test your safelight. Cut a sheet of paper into strips (say 2 x 4
    inches), and lay these strips around the darkroom. Be sure to put one
    under the enlarger, and another couple in the sink, one at either end of
    the processing line. Put a coin on each strip, and leave them out for
    some period of time - say, 5 minutes. Then, process all of the strips.
    If you can see the shadow of the coin on any of the processed strips,
    that means that your safelight is not "safe" for 5 minutes of exposure.
    I suggest five minutes because that's probably a typical "outside" time
    for exposing and processing a print, but you may want to test for other
    times as well. Also, what is safe in one area of the darkroom may not be
    safe in other areas, which is why you want to test the critical areas
    near and under the enlarger, and along the processing line in the sink.

    Mono, Jun 10, 2006
  14. Steven Woody

    Mono Guest

    Woody -

    Let me answer with an example. In my darkroom, I process prints on fiber
    based paper for 2-2.5 minutes. I've learned that in my darkroom, with my
    enlarger, choice of paper and developer, and with the agitation process I
    use, that period of time is correct for me.

    You will (eventually) arrive at similar conclusions for your darkroom.

    The process that Ansel Adams used is not an absolute and infallable
    process - it's what worked for him. Frankly, I would be concerned that
    continuously flipping the print increases the risk of either scratching
    it or wrinkling it.

    Not necessarily. The concern that I am addressing by starting the
    development face down is that if the curl is concave on the face (the
    paper wants to roll up with the emulsion side in), the edges will tend to
    rise out of the liquid. By initially placing the print in the tray face
    down, I assure that the edges are under the liquid, and by pressing
    gently in the center of the back, I keep the center also under the

    If the paper you are using curls to the non-emulsion side, you can place
    it face up in the tray, and for the first few second, GENTLY press down
    in the center with your tongs to keep it complete submerged.

    Note that it is very important the you be very gentle about touching the
    fact of the print with tongs. I would never touch the face of the print
    with tongs that don't have rubber tips. And this is why agitating by
    rocking the tray is better than lifting the print out of the liquid.

    Incidentally, whether the paper curls toward the face or toward the back
    depends on how it was manufactured. Paper manufactuered in long sheets
    and after coating and drying, the sheets are accumulated in rolls. If
    the manufacturer chose to roll with the emulsion side in, the curl tends
    to be concave on the face. If the manufacturer chose to roll with the
    emulsion out, the curl will be convex on the face. And it's possible for
    the same manufacturer to do it both ways.
    Mono, Jun 10, 2006
  15. Steven Woody

    dan.c.quinn Guest

    So your 8x10 paper will fit those 8x10 trays with a little
    wiggle room. That's good news not bad. Your solution volume
    need not be so great and you've more room on your counter.
    A few weeks ago I bought some new Cesco flat bottem trays.
    Cesco produces a complete range of sizes and all are available
    with totaly flat bottoms.
    I used to be a member of the wiggle and tilt school of tray
    agitation. No longer though. I'm now a convert to the move the
    print within the solution school. Once the print has been immersed
    face up I begin a fold over routine. From the far end draw the print
    forward over itself; face down. Then from the right side repeat the
    movement; face up. Very good agitation with little or no mess.
    Work bare handed if you feel safe doing so.
    Better have that well in mind before exposing.
    A half liter in an 8 x 10 tray is plenty. Process one print at a
    time. The capacity of the 1/2 liter should be several prints. Slip
    the print under the solution then begin the agitation routine I've
    suggested. If using a Dektol type developer dilute some what
    more than usual and allow at least 2 minutes. Dan
    dan.c.quinn, Jun 11, 2006
  16. Steven Woody

    Pat Guest

    I don't do darkroom work anymore, but I used to and read this group
    because I still like the concept of wet photography. Just a few

    The method of agitation is not as important as making sure it is
    aggitated. I think "face down" started as a way to make sure the whole
    print gets in contact with the developer at about the same time.
    Turning it over, I think, was to ensure that you didn't get air
    bubbles. But any way is okay.

    When I was in college, I helped run the school's darkroom. Most people
    used the same type of paper. I always started with "The emulsion side
    is the side where you get the picture". It was for people just
    starting. I did two things for newbies. First, I wrote "This side up"
    on the emusion side and hung it in each of the enlarger stations. so
    people had a reference. Then I took their first envelope of paper and
    put a white sticker on the inside envelope that said "this side up".

    Maybe that'll help you. Good luck. Great to see people still learning
    it this way.
    Pat, Jun 11, 2006
  17. Steven Woody

    Bob AZ Guest


    What you do is to float your 11 X 14 tray in a 16 X 20 tray. Just
    enough water in the 16 X 20 so the 11 X 14 wobbles. The agitating is no
    problem. This method also stabilizes the temp where I live in AZ.

    Bob AZ
    Bob AZ, Jun 11, 2006
  18. Steven Woody

    Rod Smith Guest

    For a one-off event, I'd just hold the thing under running water for the
    appropriate washing time.
    In principle, non-photographic containers can be used for conventional
    paper processing trays, too. I once saw a documentary on something or
    other that wasn't particularly photography-related, but there was a brief
    shot that depicted somebody developing prints in a darkroom. This person
    was using what looked like dishpans as developing trays. This would be a
    bit awkward, but it ought to work.
    Rod Smith, Jun 11, 2006
  19. Steven Woody

    Rod Smith Guest

    FWIW, my most-used trays are 8x10 plastic AP trays. (AP is a manufacturer
    in Spain.) They've got "ribs" or "channels" in the bottom; I suspect mine
    are a similar design to yours, and maybe even identical. In any event,
    you're quite right that the channels will help you get the paper out. If
    in doubt, sacrifice a sheet and practice with a volume of water equal to
    whatever volume of solution you intend to use. In fact, I strongly
    recommend you do this to check that your volume level will work with your
    paper. Different brands and types of paper curl in different ways and to
    different extents, so you'll want to check YOUR paper in YOUR tray with
    YOUR solution volume.

    FWIW, I routinely process 8x10 prints in my 8x10 trays, and I have no
    problems doing so. I've got 11x14 trays, but I prefer not to use them
    because they're much more unwieldy and difficult to use. I've also got
    some non-AP trays which, although they were sold as 8x10 trays and do hold
    8x10 prints, are a little bit smaller. It's harder to get 8x10 prints out
    of these smaller trays. Fortunately, I seldom need to use them.
    Not to belittle Ansel Adams, but there are SO many things in photography
    that can be done in several different ways with equally good results, or
    in which the best way varies depending on the materials used, the precise
    results desired, etc. Agitation (for both film and paper) is one of those
    things. As you're just starting out, I recommend you just start doing it
    whatever way seems most convenient to you. As you learn more, you can
    experiment with other methods, and you may decide to change. In the
    meantime, the sky won't fall. Ansel Adams' preferred or recommended
    methods might or might not work well for you.
    This is where the sacrificial sheet and some experimentation with water
    (in full light) can help; you can figure out how best to quickly immerse
    paper in your tray. Personally, using my trays, 1 liter of solution, and
    resin coated papers, I "slide" the paper in, as if I were sliding a single
    card (the paper) into a deck of cards (the developer solution). I then
    rock the tray back and forth. This completely sinks MY paper in MY tray
    with MY solution volume almost immediately. This method might or might not
    work for you with YOUR paper, YOUR tray, and YOUR preferred solution

    Note also that, in addition to the curl direction that's already been
    discussed extensively, resin coated (RC) and fiber based (FB) papers have
    different curl characteristics and respond differently once immersed in
    water. In my experience, RC papers are easier to work with and sink a
    little more easily. For these and other reasons, my advice to those new to
    darkroom work is to start with RC papers.
    Rod Smith, Jun 11, 2006
  20. Rod Smith spake thus:
    My "holding pond" is a dishpan. Holds lotsa prints.

    I suppose some people would only use "made for photographic use"
    containers. Their loss.

    Any system of knowledge that is capable of listing films in order
    of use of the word "****" is incapable of writing a good summary
    and analysis of the Philippine-American War. And vice-versa.
    This is an inviolable rule.

    - Matthew White, referring to Wikipedia on his WikiWatch site
    David Nebenzahl, Jun 11, 2006
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.