Archival wash for 30X40 FB prints : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Well, I set up my Zone VI 8 X 10 enlarger with the 60 inch column, and can in fact do 30X40 prints with less than 7 feet of necessary ceiling height (using a 240 mm lens, with baseboard and vaccuum easel on the floor), much to my pleasure. Next question: how does one conveniently wash these big FB B + W prints archivally? I have two big sinks, but not enough room to be washing 4-5 prints separately. I've actually been thinking of a kids' wading pool and garden hose outdoors. Any thoughts? Also, what recommendations for presentation and storage of the resulting big prints? I'd like some sort of very large portfolio, but Light Impressions doesn't seem to go that large (matted, they will be bigger than 30 X 40, of course). Just in case you're wondering, "Why so big", they are prints from 8 X 10 negs of Angkor Wat, which, as befits a monument, looks good at "monumental proportions."



-- Nathan Congdon (, June 24, 2001


You could wash one print at a time using a 30x40 tray. There are still plenty of LF photographers who tray wash due to the expense of archival print washers. Many (see Bruce Barnbaum, for example) seem to prefer this method. I believe B&H sells 30x40 trays but you may allready have a set if you are processing black and white prints at that size.

You might also consider making a washing tray from large diameter tubing cut down the center and sealed at each end with end caps. I'm not sure what's available in PVC tubing, but this would save considerable space and you might be able to wash the prints in a darkroom sink. The other option would be to build a washing trough with marine-grade plywood coated with fiberglass or lined with some type of water tight lining. It might also be possible to construct a trough with acrylic. Depending on the size of your darkroom sink, both options would allow you to keep the washing stage in the darkroom.

The key to washing with any setup is to test your results with a kit to determine if you have removed residual hypo. Once you have determined that, wash with consistency using the same wash pattern.

On storage, I would suggest a set of flat files if you plan to produce a large number of 30x40 prints. This is typically the way printmakers (the kind with etching presses!) store prints. Each print should be separated with interleaving paper/tissue or stored in a clear archival folder. Light impression sells 32x40 neutral glassine interleaves for $46.95 in the 100 sheet package. The standard flat file seems to be Mayline metal but you can also find them in finished/unfinished wood (see Daniel Smith or Dick

I hope this helps. Good luck!


-- Dave Willison (, June 24, 2001.

also see a.adams "the print" for useful large size printing tips

-- mark lindsey (, June 25, 2001.

For storage stuff, you might have to look into archival materials for map storage, or similar artifacts. 30x40 is about the largest box size, in both drop-front and regular flat boxes that you'll find. It could be that you'll have to make your own boxes. Besides LI, you might want to check out Gaylord Bros., Conservation Resources Int'l., Archivart, Hollinger, University Products, TALAS etc, for supplies & boxboard. Mayline files are really nice, but also very expensive....they might not even be big enough depending upon your mat sizes. It's better to stick with baked enamel cabinets/files for storage of photos. I'd also suggest avoiding glasseine, and using something like a roll of an acid/lignin free unbuffered tissue for interleaving. If you go with Mayline files, plan on spending at least $1000 for a 4 drawer unit to hold a 30x40. Brodart is another good place to look for storage furniture.

-- DK Thompson (, June 25, 2001.

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