Tim Layton Fine Art | My DIY Large Format Darkroom Development Trays

My DIY Large Format Darkroom Development Trays

July 27, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

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I have been updating my darkroom over the last couple of months and I have been testing a variety of different methods for developing my large format black and white silver gelatin prints.  

I had a space issue at the end of last year, so I went on a journey of testing a completely new method using a large PVC pipe to develop my 30x40 and 40x50 prints.  I tested a lot of different materials and spent more money than I care to think about to determine that I could do this, but in the end, I didn't really like the process.  

So, I went back to the drawing board and thought about how I could get more space in my darkroom to support tray development of my six foot prints.  You can connect with me on my YouTube Channel, where I share videos of me making my large format prints on a regular basis.  

Over the course of a couple months, I thought through a lot of options and reflected on where I truly wanted to invest my time.  Ultimately I decided to trim down on a lot of equipment in my darkroom to allow me to use large format trays, which is my preferred method over tubes.  My core reasons for preferring the trays over the tubes is because I can see what is happening at every stage of the process and I feel more connected to my work.  

The downside is that I have to invest more into the chemicals for processing, but that is an investment that I am willing to make.  Also, with these large mural prints, there are a lot of physical requirements that make it taxing.  My son, Tim Jr. is my darkroom assistant and I couldn't do it without him.  He has really been maturing with his darkroom knowledge and skill over this last year.  It is a lot of fun watching him grow and I even learn from him too.  Making these big prints is definitely a collaborative effort.  

In order to make room for the new large format trays, I went from 4 enlargers down to just my 8x10 enlarger which supports all of my formats to include 8x10, 5x7, 4x5, and 6x17.  

In this video, I share our first tray that we designed and built.  

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