Processing large murals : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

In a post a dozen lines back, Roger Urban asked the question about 'How to process large print murals'.

In the U.S. Navy, years ago, we did this by standard Navy procedure. The Navy had tanks,... we called, 'Elephant tanks', that were about eight inched in diameter, made out of SS. They were 'U' shaped or hemispherical, with welded aquare ends on them. It took two people to process a 40" wide section of mural paper. Under safelights, one technician would hold the scrolled up mural, while the other would take the lip of the paper and start to scroll it into the elephant tank full of Dektol. When the entire piece of photo paper was in the Dektol, the first guy would grab the lip of the mural and raise it as high as he could, and the process would be performed again, until development would be completed. Same for the short stop, and hypo, and the forth tank would be the wash. Worked just great, but with working with such large pieces of photo paper, we always made sure we had alot of 8X10" test prints from the center of the image to the edge of the scene. Working with PVC pipe, it would be easy to make such an 'elephant' tank by taking some 8" or 10" PVC pipe and sawing it in two. Our tanks were 44" long, to accomodate 40" paper. Used minimal solution...but you have to remember that a 40" X 160" mural, takes a lot of chemicals. Forgot to mention, that if you make one of these systems, don't forget to use PVC cement, and cement a 10" or 12" square slab of PVC material at each end. Used these techniques, many times. If it works for the U.S.Navy, it will work for you. A reminder that using this technique, it will be easy to gouge the wet emulsion with your finger nails, so we always used rubber gloves for the guy doing the scrolling into the solution. Be well. Richard Boulware - Denver.

-- Richard Boulware (, March 09, 2002


I have not seen this done but I understand it's possible: Get a large sheet of plexi, somewhat larger than the 40" width and longer than the print you wish to make. Lean it against the darkroom wall with the bottom in a catch tray or trough, preferably with a drain. Clip or tape the paper to the plexi and sponge on the developer, followed by the stop and hypo. Rinse with running water from a hose. Hang to dry. This should be easy enough with RC paper and requires much less equipment and set-up than the method you described.

-- Arthur Gottschalk (, March 10, 2002.

Arthur: With respect,...I have tried this technique and it did not work well for me. The eveness of the development was lacking, and the developer (Dektol) was quickly exhausted. Also, I slung a lot of Dectol all over my darkroom and it was a heck of a mess to clean up. Perhaps you will be more successful than I. PVC pipe is cheap and cements almost instantly. One 88" length of 10" dia. pipe, cut in half to make two, 44" tubes...each cut in half, makes four tanks, with a little 1/2" 12 X 12" squares cemented on each end. My PVC supplier even cut the 12 X 12" squares for me at no charge.

-- Richard Boulware (, March 10, 2002.

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