Favorite Fiber Based paper for big prints (30X40 and up)

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I'm getting set up with an 8X10 enlarger and will be printing up to 30X40. Doesn't look like many of the FB papers I'd like to use go that big. In particular, Bergger does not seem to, though they say "special sizes" can be discussed with them (anybody done that?) What do those of you with big print delusions of grandeur (and high ceilings!) do for 30X40 and up prints, esp in FB (and ideally warm-tone).



-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), April 15, 2001


Nathan, Buried deep in my answer to your other query (about horizontal projection) is my plug for Agfa Classic MG fiber, a wonderful warm- tone paper. It comes in 50" x 100' rolls, is very thick and sturdy, and prints deep subtle tones. I cut a bunch of 25x50" pieces in advance and store them in a big trash can. To process, I roll them (emulsion side out) through 20x24 trays. After washing, treat in some LFN and hang on a clothesline, with a slim curtain rod secured across the bottom with clothespins to keep it from curling - it dries fairly flat that way, then I flatten it further in a drymount press. Feel free to email if you have more questions about this procedure.

-- Sandy Sorlien (sand44@mindspring.com), April 15, 2001.

Bergger does have the warmtone graded paper in 40 or 50 inch rolls, can't remember which at the moment. It does "Look Good". Really nice stuff in smaller sizes & pretty impressive in prints from 8x10 negs at 30x40. If you can, see Tillman Cranes show at Philips gallery in Salt Lake City this next month, the one coinciding with the introduction of his new book STRUCTURE. He has a number of the books images printed on the Bergger warmtone graded paper in 30x40 inch size. They are sure nice.

Give John Horowy at Bergger a call & he can get the paper to you. I know he doesn't keep a lot lying around as it is not a fast seller, and who wants to see paper going bad due to old age?

From experience, I have found that using wallpaper trays & rolling the prints is a pain in the butt. I always crinkle them that way. I finally figured it was easier to lay 4x4 or 4x6 wood down to make space for 'trays' the size needed, and then roll out a big sheet of polyethelene and fill the 'trays' with chemistry that way. Works very well and, if you have a big sink to work with, it is easy to dump after you are done. If you dont' have a big sink, get ahold of your local High School & see if they will let you bring the paper in and lay it out in the showers. Sounds really dumb, but if you work with their photo instructor you might be able to get to do it & they can use the experience as a teaching & learning experience.

Or, you can do it in the garage, driveway or back yard if yours isn't too light at night.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), April 15, 2001.

Just to add to what the others have said, if you find yourself doing this alot, and have enough space in your darkroom, you can also buy trays in that size...although these are usally stainless steel, so they'd cost a bit. There's at least one company that makes trays up to 41"x49" in size. As for paper, you might want to check out what Luminous (or Kentmere?) is offering these days as far as mural paper goes.

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), April 16, 2001.

It seems like pure strokery in this day and age to want to wet process mural sized prints. Heck, with an Epson 9500 you can print 44"x50' and still have clean hands and clothes.


-- Bill Smith (bs2@aol.com), April 16, 2001.

No Bill, actually it's more like torture....that's why we send all the murals out. Way back when we did do murals in house, they were processed in 2 9' Kreonite sinks by hand. One had 25+ gal. of developer, the other fix. Pull the plug on the developer, fill it up with water to stop, then move over to the other sink, then back to the first (one of those sinks with built in water jets) to wash.... It's alot cheaper to use a lab set up for murals. But a 30 x 40 really isn't that big.

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), April 16, 2001.

I would like to know why so big? Most people I know can't hange work that big in there homes.

-- R Ritter (rrlg4mat@sover.net), April 16, 2001.

I don't know about this big print stuff. Clyde Butcher down in Miami prints huge mural sized images of the Florida Everglades. Whenever I go to his gallery I am somewhat over taken by the "big" print. Personally I gravitate to the 16x20's and 11x14's. I think there is something to be said for the intimate image.

-- Mike Kravit (mkravit@kravit.net), April 16, 2001.

The impact of an 8x10 neg that has been processed right and a 30x40 inch print that receives similar quality processing is a right between the eyes experience. One nice part is that it is even a smaller enlargement factor than a 3 1/2x5 inch print from a 35mm negative. Course everything else is a bigger project as well. Drying, matting & mounting and framing. All without damaging the print. But the results sure can be worth it.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), April 16, 2001.

Hi Nathan, excited about your project, let us know how it worked out! If you like Ilford, they also offer their MG paper on rolls (although, they don't have it for the warm tone.)

For large prints, I used to project onto a levelled MDF board that was on the floor. The board was levelled by 3 height adjustable glides evenly spaced under the board. The enlarger was swung around and overhanged off the counter (counter weights were placed to prevent tipping). The processing required two people to slide the paper through 55" wide homemade troughs with chemistry. It worked great for black and white. The prints came out very evenly processed.


-- Dave Anton (daveanton@home.com), April 17, 2001.

Response to Mr. Ritter's question about big prints: Having room to hang a 30X40 print in one's house is one of the hidden benefits of living in a non-sexy town like Baltimore: low mortgage on a big house! I certainly don't treat many subjects to a 30X40 enlargement, but some sites are really perfect for it. I would have to say Angkor Wat, which is what these prints will be of, is definitely one of them.

Thanks to everybody for their helpful responses, as always. Rolls are pretty clearly the way to go. I think I'll be trying the Bergger warm-tone FB offerings, which come in rolls 42.5" wide.

Thanks again,


-- nathan congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), April 17, 2001.

I'll throw in this little bit about the size question too. I work in the Design branch of a museum. We build & design exhibits, so we use murals as really just part of the graphic design or layout of an exhibit. Sometimes we'll have a big mural, maybe in 3 or 4 4x8 pieces, mounted on a back wall, with other smaller prints layered in, or massive backlit cibatrans stuff, or even murals that are cut out along certain contours for a 3D effect. Personally, I like smaller prints, but the size has alot to do with viewing distance & just how prints are going to be used anyways. I can see maybe wanting to make a mural for a wall in your house, with the right image, and blending it into the decor. I have a relative who did this with an old photo of his grandfather working on an assembly line. It was almost life size, and he hung it like wallpaper in a room in his house. Now, would I want to make murals at home.....???

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), April 17, 2001.

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