Make Super B-I-G Prints Without a Darkroom

Once you have a BIG negative, what can you do with it? Why, make an equally huge print from it, of course! Following up on an earlier article for making B-I-G negatives, this article shows you how to make enormous prints. And, again, all of this magic is sans darkroom.

Last week we learned how to make B-I-G magazine lift negatives without a darkroom. This week we are going to convert those negatives into equally BIG prints.

If you purchased a Toysmith Solar Paper Print pack last week, then you’re all set for making BIG 5-x7-inch prints. If you don’t have a pack of the darkroom-less blue print paper, you should be able to purchase some from either your local art/science museum gift shop or directly from the manufacturer via its online storefront. Naturally, you should be able to score a pack of paper from the ubiquitous mega-shopping center.

How to Make BIG Prints


  • Toysmith Solar Paper Print pack (NOTE: You can purchase a basic 12-sheet refill 5-x7-inch print pack from Amazon)
  • Clear glass or contact print frame
  • Bucket
  • Water

Time: 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Cost: $6.00

Making a BIG print follows the same procedure used for making BIG negatives.

Begin by laying an unexposed sheet of Toysmith Solar Paper Print down on the bottom of your contact print frame. Alternatively, you can use a large sheet of heavy-duty cardboard for holding your paper. Next align your BIG blue paper negative directly over this unexposed sheet of solar paper. The fully-developed “blue” surface of the negative should be facing up on top of the unexposed sheet. Finally, lower the contact print frame onto your blue paper(s) sandwich and march outside for exposure under the bright rays of a beautiful sun. Once again, in lieu of a contact print frame, you can use a sheet of regular glass over your heavy-duty cardboard and hold it in place with binder clips.

The exposure time for making prints is considerably longer than the times used for making negatives. This increased amount of time is due to the sunlight having to travel through the paper of the negative. As a general rule of thumb, your general exposure time for making prints should be about double the amount of time used for making your negatives. So anywhere from six to ten minutes is a good starting point. You can safely gauge the exposure process by bringing your contact print frame inside out of the direct sunlight and carefully lifting one corner of your negative. If the highlights are turning white, it’s probably time to develop your print.

If the print paper doesn’t look properly exposed, yet, just return your print frame to the outdoors.

“Developing” your properly exposed print couldn’t be easier. Remove the paper print from your contact print frame and hold it under a stream of running water for about one minute. Remember from making last week’s BIG negatives that you can enhance the print’s development by gently rubbing the surface of the paper with your fingers. Set the print aside for drying on a clean absorbent towel.

Let your print dry for one full day before you evaluate your exposure. If the print is too dark or too light, make another print and adjust the exposure time, accordingly: longer times for too light and shorter times for too dark. Once you’re satisfied with your BIG print record the time in a notebook for future reference.

One delightful fringe benefit from making BIG prints from paper negatives is that the negative’s paper fibers can make a visually dreamy effect on the print. You can enhance this effect by adding coins, leaves, and, even, leftover film snippets on top of your negative, letting their shadows make subtle subtractions on parts of your prints. The resulting BIG prints coupled with the rich blue tint of the Toysmith Solar Paper Print material could enable your own Pablo Picasso “blue period” moment.

Who says film is dead? Lomography’s got its very own emulsions to keep the fire burning! Visit the "Shop: and see which Lomography film is right for you.

written by themindseye on 2013-07-11 in #gear #tipster #big-prints #development #magazine-lifts #big-negatives #tipster #contact-print #darkroom #medium-format #tutorial

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