Cold Tone or Warm Tone Papers??

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Gary Grenell, May 17, 2005.

  1. Gary Grenell

    Gary Grenell Member

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    Dear APUG printing fanatic friends:

    I am deciding whether to print a black and white portfolio (basically outdoor street shots at a local park) on cold tone or warm-tone paper. I have been going back and forth on this, literally for months. I am making myself crazy with this. I have printed many of the portfolio photographs on both papers (Agfa MCC and Oriental or Kodak Polymax VC, both selenium toned) and neither set looks "bad."

    As I go through photography books in the local bookstore, the great majority of monographs are published having printed on a warm-tone paper. (see below)

    WARM-TONE

    Diane Arbus: Revelations
    Jock Sturges: The Last Days of Summer
    Shelby Lee Adams: Appalachian Portraits
    Henri C. Bresson: Photoportraits
    Paul Strand: Aperture Monograph
    Edward Boubat
    Kristin Knapp: Hutterite
    Sally Mann: Immediate Family
    Mary Ellen Mark
    Dorothea Lange
    Martin Dain: Faulkner’s World
    Peter Hujar
    Sebastio Salgado: An Uncertain Grace
    Leonard Freed
    Martine Franck: One Day to the Next
    Bruce Gilden: Haiti

    COLD-TONE

    Chris Rainier – Where Masks Still Dance; Keepers of the Spirit


    Of course, one may say it’s a matter of personal taste and preference. Yet, still it seems that many historically have gone the warm tone route. But take a look at Rainier’s two monographs Gorgeous in Cold Tone!!

    How can I decide??????????????????????
    Thanks in advance, Gary
     
  2. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    Warm tone: lost in the crowd
    Cold tone: stand alone (well, one person for company)


    Just judging based on your list...
     
  3. shyguy

    shyguy Member

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    How about using the paper that best suits the image. That is to say, warm for say wood and cold for say a river.

    S.
     
  4. TheMissingLink

    TheMissingLink Member

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    ups, watch my signature;-)

    You are trying to make a kind of binary choice like 0 and 1, yes or no. This won't work I guess. As you mentioned decide from time to time and don't try to create a rule.
    No wonder this question drives you crazy, ethere are even papers with a neutral tone.
    Sure we all have had periods or still have of a preferred tone, it will change from time to time as our taste or the aim changes ..

    Years ago I'd have said: every kind of organic would need a warm tone, cold sijets need a cold paper ... today I know it _can_ be attractive to break this rule ... even within a series of warm or cold a break can occure with success.

    If it's a question of the budget not to keep several boxes of grades, surfaces AND tones try it this way like I do. I'm working on here invaluable Oriental fiber. My standard size is the counterpart of 12x16 inch. I have to boxes, one G2 and one G3. It gives me all the flexiblity want with the surface and the tone. The latter can be influenced either with the developer if I'm not satisfied or selenium or sthg else.

    The only rule should be there's no rule;-)
     
  5. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    The Link has it right - I'd judge each image separately.

    However, just to be awkward(!), how about Ilford MGWT FB split in selenium then gold toners? Warm shadows, cooler highlights... Just a thought!
     
  6. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I agree, different images suit different approaches. I tend to use cool tone more, but it is all a matter of taste.

    David.
     
  7. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    There was a period when (particularly) large-format gurus (e.g. Fred Picker) advocated the almost exclusive use of cold-tone papers, especially for landscapes or any other outdoor scenics/nature shots. The colder and bluer the blacks the better. And for awhile, those of us who looked to them for guidance practiced what they preached.

    But every once in awhile, I'd print something on the old Polycontrast G paper or Portriga Rapid and it would knock my eyes out, not only with the entirely different emotional response it generated, but with the incredible richness of shadow detail.

    So I concluded that personal preference is really the deciding factor. For much if not most of my work, I use Agfa MCC or Multigrade Warmtone, because I love richly detailed shadows, but sometimes I think the subject really demands a cold tone. The benefit of both of those papers is that choice of developer and toning can give a warmer or colder look. If I really need or want a cold tone, then I use another paper. In a word: be your own guru. Choose which is most satisfying to you for a particular image.

    Larry
     
  8. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    In addition to the other comments, many of those mentioned in the warmtone class also had exhibits, books, etc. printed on neutral or cold tone papers.

    The image should , IMHO, dicated the tool.
     
  9. aj-images

    aj-images Member

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    We print 90% of our work on warmtone, then selenium tone. The image has an overall warm look, with rich blacks....it's the best of both worlds.
     
  10. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Myself, I like neutrality. Polymax is a fine paper for making anything look natural and not draw attention away from the photo's content.
     
  11. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I agree with the general feeling here that each image should be printed on a the paper most suited to that image, but that means stocking more papers and stretching of budgets. How about stocking one warm tone paper and using different techniques and methods to control the print colour, for example, using a blue/black developer or gold toning to cool the paper, adding benzotiazole will also cool the paper and increase the contrast. As has already been suggested split selenium and gold to cool the highlights and leave the shadows warm. This may not be the perfect solution perhaps one worth consideration.

    For what it's worth I prefer to print my documentary work on cool tone paper, preferably Graded Oriental Seagull.
     
  12. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Why not a neutral black tone. By the proper selection of a paper and developer and if needed by adjusting the amount of bromide and benzotriazole in the developer you should be able to get a pure neutral black.

    I personally think that street scenes would look strange if printed in warm black.
     
  13. Gary Grenell

    Gary Grenell Member

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    The responses so far to my original query

    I want to sincerely, sincerely thank everyone to this point for their thoughts. Many of the responders have urged me to print the image on the paper it requires, letting the individual image be the guide.

    The problem I think is that single bodies of work on display in galleries (which is my goal with this single body of work), cannot (by convention) be printed on different papers. And most gallery owners are conventional to that degree. (I actually agree with that convention).

    I believe that I am forced into this dichotomous position.

    But it is true that the warm tone paper (not brown tone), like Agfa MCC, when bathed in 1:12 selenium for 5-6 minutes, gives a very dark tone, a brownish black, in the shadows. I have never done Gold after selenium.
     
  14. panchromatic

    panchromatic Member

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    If this is your case, then choose one, either warm or cold, and then pick images that fit that style of paper. Just another thought.
     
  15. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Lowel Huff (Clayton Chem) was nice enough to send me some of their cold-tone paper developer. It gives AGFA MCC a bluish tinge that I liked a lot.
    You may use that one to control tone of your images.

    Also Ethol LPD can be used to control tone, 1+1 gives neutral blacks in MCC, 1+4 warm blacks.

    PS. convention about using only one type of paper?????????????????
    that sounds like asking a painter to use only 3 colors


     
  16. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    I use cold tone mainly because I started out using Tetenal Eukobrom and never felt the need to change...I still use it and I am HAPPY.
     
  17. carbromac

    carbromac Member

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    You might want to try Prestige fiber base VC by Bergger photo, great paper with lots of tone, not too warm or too cold, I like it a lot.
     
  18. Magnus

    Magnus Member

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    I use normal tone, cold tone and warm tone papers, all VC and one can ofcourse follow the "standards" which to use for what, but for me .... I use them according to my mood. I will print a negative normally on normal tone, but might divert to cold-tone or warmtone, or all three and see which suits my current mood best and work the print out further, the results are always good because you follow your own heart at that particular moment in time.... looking back at some prints I've done in the past, some might be questionable, but always interesting..... and near all have at least captured an "atmosphere" if only a reflection of the mood I was in at that moment in time.
    What Ansel or HCB did with their.... thats their thing not mine, but theres no one telling me what to print on what, with what ... thats what makes B&W DIY photography interesting.... I for one do it for myself, not for others ....
     
  19. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Gary

    the list you provided was interesting , but I would be careful as a coldtone print could be made to look warm tone at the book stage. I do not think one paper is more suitable unless you think so. You will notice a few posters have mentioned cold tone paper for street scenes or documentary. I would look at prints made by photographers you admire in the genre that your work is and make your selection then.

    I am of the opinion * not * to change papers within a body of work and as well when printing a show I keep the first approved toned print on the wall directly opposite my wash area where I judge wet prints. I use this as my basic guide for the rest of the prints in the show.
    If I go into a gallery and see a hogepoge of different papers ,toners of one persons work I pay little attention to it. I hope this dosen't sound snobbish to you but IMO you would be crazy to mix and match papers and toners within a body of work.
    Not to say to test like crazy before you start printing as this is exactly what I do before every large show for clients we look at different methods of producing the imagery.
    My worst nightmare is when a casual client has worked with me over a period of years,trying out dev, papers tones, decides to have a show and uses past work. It is a bloody disastor and I hate it.
    hope this helps
     
  20. rhphoto

    rhphoto Member

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    First of all, at least half of the photographers' work you mentioned was originally printed on cold tone papers. For some reason, the monographs are warmer in tone. I know Jock Sturges work personally, and his is warmtone, and the subject matter warrants it. Strand used a lot of cold tone paper, except of course the platinum work, and some of his Southwest stuff. Arbus - cold tone. Etc.

    Some of the most beautiful street work was done by Roy de Carava. He printed "down" on Ilford Galerie #1. The prints are very slightly olive in tone, but not exactly warm. The Ilford papers tend to run on the fence between cold and warm. I'm talking about Multigrade FB, Galerie, and the former Ilfobrom. Their papers all seem to yield good shadow detail, and can be toned effectively to give various hues. Galerie especially responds to selenium, without going purple as fast as say, Oriental or Polymax. In fact, If I had to do your particular task, I'd be tempted to use Galerie (even though it's not VC) and give a 3 to 5 minute toning in weakish selenium.

    I feel Ansel Adams was one of the great printers of portfolios, in terms of technical beauty and marvellous consistency. His book on The Print has info about some of his production techniques. You want your prints to have a uniform look, so the body of work "holds together". I would avoid double or split toning as there a lot of variables, and the net benefits might not outweigh the hassles. The most important thing you need in these prints is great tonal rendition and proper contrast, whether you like harsh or soft doesn't matter, as long as it's clean and gets the image across. Concentrate on your printing skills - exposure, development, reading the wet print, allowing for drydown, toning, and finally, how they look in the mats you've chosen. Almost any high quality paper made today is capable of giving you what you need - but you must pick one and master it.