Controling Sepia toning.... how?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by tkamiya, Apr 13, 2011.

  1. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,241
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I tried sepia toning for the first time today. Paper was Ilford MGIV FB and toner was Photographers' Formulary 221.

    I heard Sepia toning reduces density so I chose a print that came out a tad too dark. Then followed the instructions.... bleach, wash, redevelop, wash, fix with hardener, HCA, wash again. The instruction says bleach for 1 min and redevelop for 1 min so that's what I did.

    The result is.... the print is just as dark as the original and it's really brown/red. It's not the subtle kind of sepia.... it screams out SEPIA! It also looks like I lost contrast a bit. Overall, it's not pleasing at all.

    As I understand, Selenium toning can be controlled by time and I got used to that... The instructions that came with the selenium toner gave me an impression that toning should complete in one minute and is done to completion.

    How do I control this so I can have pleasing subtle sepia that doesn't scream out SEPIA!??
     
  2. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,194
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Dilute the bleach, and then adjust the time in the bleach to determine how much toning you get. You can also adjust the time in the redevelop stage. If you split tone (selenium + sepia) the length of time in the selenium will determine the sepia effect as well.
    The combinations are endless. I really like the control this gives me. Tim Rudman's Toning book is a wonderful resource.
     
  3. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,305
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    To get a subtle sepia effect, the best way in my opinion is to give up on indirect toning and use direct brown toning instead. Easy to do, more control and no surprises! I use it with MGIV-FB all the time. I'm not familiar with your toner, but it should work with that product by just skipping the bleaching step.
     
  4. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,678
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Location:
    Chicago
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    If you bleach just until you can see the lightest tones start to fade (may be only a few seconds in full strength bleach), then pull it and wash and redevelop in the toner, the result will be much more subtle. I have a few recent ones in my gallery. dlin (Daniel Lin) has a good consistent procedure down because his toning is subtle and consistent...check out his gallery too. It sounds like Matt might have some images in his gallery too, but I haven't checked
     
  5. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,260
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Get a variable indirect toner kit. Different dilutions of the part 2 toner gives you a range of tones from pale yellow/brown to the kind of colour you describe here as not being to your liking.

    Those instructions you have quoted sound a bit too simplistic. Too "black and white" or is that reddish/brown and white?

    Tim Rudman's book is worth buying as well. Very comprehensive on a whole range of toners and toning.

    pentaxuser
     
  6. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,124
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Jacksonville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Toning has so many variables that you should expect to have to experiment with it quite a bit before you're able to get exactly the results you want. Tim Rudman's book is invaluable, and has recently been reprinted so it's available. Using it as a guide, and having been toning for a year or so now, I'm still learning what to expect ( I mix my own bleach, and toner from chems bought from the Formulary ) and how to be more consistent.
     
  7. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

    Messages:
    2,055
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    Nicholasvill
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    While in graduate school I had an assignment to choose three different printing paper, four developers, and seven toners, then print the same negative on them all in every possible combination. One of the toners I chose was Kodak Sepia Toner and one paper was Ilford Multigrade. There is a lot of possibilities with it.

    Make a few prints of the same negative to run a series of bleach and tonings. Get a timer and see how long it takes to completely bleach the image. This is a full bleach and will produce the weakest tones. Then bleach another for only half that time. See how it differs. Do another for a quarter of the full time, and another for an eighth. Finally, try a reverse sepia by toning first, then bleach and re-tone. Compare all of these to see if any are to your liking.
     
  8. Ian C

    Ian C Member

    Messages:
    722
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2009
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    With respect to the original question,

    Bleach-redevelopment sepia toning is meant to be taken to completion. If you want partial toning you should use one of the direct toners: brown toner, polysulfide toner, selenium toner.

    Kodak Brown Toner is no longer made, but the same formula is available from Freestyle in LA as Legacy brand. It works with Ilford MGIV FB but isn't nearly as warm. Like all direct toners, you simply remove the print when it gets the color you want. In this way you can obtain any degree of toning from almost imperceptible to strong color or anything in between.

    Papers lose density to varying degrees depending upon the paper. Some papers loose considerable density while others lose far less. There is also a loss of contrast. This too varies among different papers. You can compensate by making the print greater in density and contrast based on your experience with the particular paper.

    The color you’re after might be better realized on a warmtone paper like Ilford Warmtone FB. You might like the results even better when this paper is developed in a slow-working developer like Ilford Warmtone Developer. The copmbination of Ilford Warmtone paper + Ilford Warntone Developer + any direct sulfide toner is quite beautiful and the toning can range from barely perceptible to strong color as you desire. It’s easily controlled by varying the toning time.
     
  9. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,241
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I made 5 identical prints so it's time to experiment then....

    What's everybody's favorite brown/sepia toner? I picked Photographers' Forumulary because it was the only one available from the vendor I bought it from. I'm really not wanting to mix my own, so I'm looking for pre-packaged toners.
     
  10. Ian C

    Ian C Member

    Messages:
    722
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2009
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Freestyle sell Legacy brand Brown Toner Agfa Viradon (another brown toner), and a Sepia Toner Kit. Each of these is similar to the now discontinued Kodak products and the prices are similar and not expensive.

    Freestyle also sells Moerch Polytoner in 3 varieties. The Moersch Sienna Polytoner contains selenium like the original Kodak Polytoner and produces similar tones.

    The Brown Toner and Sienna Polytoner are easy to use. You simply dilute with water per instructions.
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,267
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You can do whatever you want. I use partial bleach-back and toning in sulfide or thiourea to get varying degrees of effect. If you bleach back with dilute bleach, you will only tone a portion of the tone range - the highlights. The longer you tone and the more concentrated your bleach is, the farther down into the tonal range you will go.
    I usually do this first and follow up with selenium toning, which works more from the 'bottom up', while the sepia works from the 'top down'. I this way can get a varying degree of warmth in highlights and/or shadows. The first sepia toning affects how the selenium toning affects the print as well, so some experimentation is definitely called for.

    And, finally, when toning, there are no rules. Look at guys like Tim Rudman, Wolfgang Moersch, Bob Carnie, Guillaume Zuili, Bill Schwab - and how they tone their prints. Mr Carnie, for example, sometimes uses up to three or four different toners on the same print. Throw rules out the window, have fun, experiment, and make sure to wash your prints really well between steps.

    Have fun!

    - Thomas
     
  12. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,241
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have quite a bit more pleasing images now....

    One of the major problems with my previous try was that I intentionally printed the original print a bit darker expecting the reduction effect on Sepia toners. Because I have so much shadow area, that made the print way too red. In original print, too much black wasn't offensive but too much red was.

    This time, I used prints that are at the right density. I have one set I bleached 100% and redeveloped to completion. It's red but much more pleasing red, not screaming red now. I have another set where I bleached to about 50%, redeveloped to completion, and followed it up with Selenium toner for 4 minutes. Selenium part made the shadow area slightly darker without adding more red. I like the results as well.

    I still don't have a "hint of sepia" type print. I'm going to have to pull the print much sooner next time.
     
  13. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,305
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Please listen to Ian (and me) and try direct toning. It will give you exactly what you want, 'a hint of sepia', and it's a lot easier to control.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,124
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Jacksonville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ralph, do you know the formulation of this direct toner so that one can make it up without buying a kit? Knowing the prescription would also help in experimenting with whatever tweaks might present themselves.

    BTW, to all who might go this route, according to Tim Rudman, sulphide toners need to be used quite apart from photosensitive materials like film and printing paper, so get them out of the DR for the toning process, or do that work apart from the vulnerable material.
     
  16. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,305
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you cannot get a hold of Kodak Brown Toner or Agfa Viradon, use the attached formula.

    Good point! For this and other reasons, it's not recommended to store film or paper in the darkroom.
     

    Attached Files:

  17. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,241
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    I intend to. I just don't have one handy at the moment.

    ... and I do all of my stinky toning outside. I know about the fogging issue.
     
  18. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,124
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Jacksonville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
     
  19. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

    Messages:
    2,563
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2007
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    The best a cheapest sepia toner can get is to make your own! All you need is potassium ferricyanide, potassium bromide, thiocarbamide and sodium hydroxide. All color combinations can be obtained from these 4 chems. Easy to mix and easy to control.

    Working solutions:

    Bleach:
    Pot Ferri 10g
    Pot Bromide 5g
    Water to make 1 liter

    Toner:
    Thiocarbamide 10g
    Sodium Hydroxide 3g-10g (yellow to brownish red)
    Water to make 1 liter

    Ralph and Ian's recommendation for a Brown toner is an excellent one. I prefer Agfa Viradon and use it with Ilford MGWT with wonderful beautiful "sepia" tones.
     
  20. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

    Messages:
    2,563
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2007
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    I just realized you said you prefer to not mix your own. Although I highly recommend mixing your own, PF sepia kits should be just as good as any other sepia toning kits. I would certainly still consider trying Viradon though! Excellent!!
     
  21. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,241
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm going to order one from Freestyle. It appears to have a clone of Kodak brown toner under Legacy Pro brand...
     
  22. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    3,754
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2003
    Location:
    Meeshagin
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Lots of good advice here. I like to dilute the bleach way down and repeatedly bleach, tone and wash until I get my look. Like Thomas said...most important is to play and find your own feel.
     
  23. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,267
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    With all due respect, Ralph, I disagree.

    There is absolutely nothing difficult about using bleach and re-development, and it's a lot more versatile than the direct toners, in my humble opinion.
    With well diluted bleach I can get the very subtlest of sepia tones, barely noticeable unless you have an untoned print to compare it to. Or I can get very rich tones by bleaching back a lot with extremely warm tones as a result.
    Or, I can repeat the process after bleaching and toning once for yet another result. It is, by far, in my opinion, more flexible than something like Kodak Brown, which basically repeats exactly the same color every time, and the way I use toners that would be pretty much useless.

    I hope Mr Kamiya sees that there are many ways of doing this, and there is no one better way, just different ones. But I must state that it isn't at all difficult to use a bleach based indirect toning method. It is true that a direct toner is easier, but that doesn't make the bleaching method difficult.

    Good luck, and have lots of fun! Toning prints, and exploring how they work, especially in combination with other toners, is like opening a new chapter and increasing the pool of possible outcomes. It makes printing a richer and more interesting place to be.

    - Thomas
     
  24. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,305
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm not a 100% sure, but I think you can use what you have try direct toning.
     
  25. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,305
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well, that is not my experience. I find the one-step method much easier than dealing with the bleach and redeveloper for the following reasons:

    Residual silver halide, left behind by poor fixing, will cause staining with sulfide toners. Furthermore, residual thiosulfate, left behind by poor washing, can also cause staining and even highlight loss with sulfide toners. To avoid staining from residual silver halide or thiosulfate, it is, therefore, essential that FB prints are fully fixed and adequately washed in preparation for, or anticipation of, sulfide toning. For direct sulfide toning, a preceding 30-minute wash is sufficient. The bleaching process, required for indirect sulfide toning, calls for a complete 60-minute wash prior to bleaching. Otherwise, residual fixer will dissolve bleached highlights before the toner has a chance to ‘redevelop’ them. Likewise, a brief rinse after bleaching is highly recommended, because the interaction between bleach and toner may also cause staining. Washing minimizes the risk of unwanted chemical interactions between fixer, bleach, and toner. Indirect toning, after bleaching, must be carried out to completion to ensure full conversion of silver halides into image forming silver. Otherwise, some residual silver halide will be left behind, since the toner was not able to ‘redevelop’ the bleached image entirely. This is rare, because indirect toning is completed within a few minutes, but if residual silver halide is left behind by incomplete toning, the print will eventually show staining and degenerate, similarly to an incompletely fixed print.

    I also find the results of direct sulfide toning much more visually pleasing, but that's, of course, a matter of taste. As you said, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and one has to find out what works best for oneself. One advantage of properly executed indirect sulfide toning is that it is the most archival toning process known to man, direct sulfide toning being a close second and selenium toning being a distant third.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2011
  26. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,203
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2005
    Location:
    Los Alamos,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sepia toning takes some experimentation. First, the results are not always predictable. Second, each sepia toner acts differently on each kind of paper. Third, there are some controls you can use. The classic sulfide sepia toner, like Formulary 221, produces reddish brown tones, as you experienced. A thiocarbamine toner will be less red and probably a bit lighter. A polysulfide toner tends more toward chocolate, A hypo-alum toner will tend more toward the yellow. But the effect will be different on each paper and will vary a bit depending on how the original print was processed as well. There are many traditional sulfide sepia toners. They have various bleaches, and the tone varies depending on the bleach.

    There are a couple of processing variations you can try as well. The first is to vary the time the print is in the bleach, as mentioned above. You do not have to bleach the print completely before toning. The result will be a darker brown print. Another trick is presulfiding. Treat the print in the sulfide redeveloper solution for a minute or two first, wash it, and then bleach it and redevlop it as usual. The result will generally be darker. Some experimentation will be needed to get it right, and you may have to change the way you make the print a bit before you are happy. In any case, don't give up, and have fun.