16×20 and all that stuff

Horses CNE Coliseum summer of 1980 with my Leica

Toronto. When was the last time you made a big print? Never is the most likely answer when everything today is digital – unless you are an old coot like me. Around 1985, I decided to decorate my office with some of my photographs printed 16 x 20 inches and mounted in slim gold toned aluminum frames.

At the time, my largest trays would only print 11×14 paper so my first step was to get bigger trays. To this end I bought some plywood and some 1×4 inch pine boards. I made three wooden trays big enough to handle 16×20 paper. A double thickness of 2 mil plastic painter’s sheets lined the trays to make them moisture proof.

Developer, stop, and fixer followed. I made just enough to fill the trays about a quarter to a half inch (no drums big enough were on hand). A sink would do for washing. I looked through my Leica negatives and selected a handful of negatives to print with my Durst enlarger which has a great Schneider enlarging lens. And off to the photo store for 16×20 Ilford enlarging paper.

Once done, the prints were framed and mounted in my office. This was some 34 years ago – the first and last time I made such big prints.

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