Do you always tone your prints for the sake of consistency in your work?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Katie, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

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    When printing, do you tone all of your prints? For a uniformed body of work, that is? I would think that to match your "style" you would want to be consistent in the appearance of your prints, so do you always tone your prints similarly? Or do you select the toner based on the scene? Are there some you simply don't tone at all?

    Also, I know it's been discussed at length, but if you are going to frame behind glass, do you see a need to use fiber over rc paper? I made some 11x14 prints last night in RC and toned them this morning ... could never have done this so quickly with fiber paper. Will I notice a difference once they are framed and behind glass anyway? I have a set of 8x10's on the wall of my kids - 1/2 RC and 1/2 Fiber, and I swear I cannot tell the difference!

    Thanks and be nice.

    Katie
     
  2. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Hi Katie,

    I tone most of my prints, and use a variety of toners for different results.

    For example, all my portraits are now printed using Ilford MGWT semimatte, and those are selenium toned to get rid of a fairly ugly green cast to the paper.

    All my other prints are on standard Ilford MGIV paper, and I use Moersch Carbon, Moersch MT-3, and selenium toners in varying combinations to get what I want in the final print.

    As you suggest I go for a cohesive look to each series of pictures, and tone all landscapes the same, and then while different I tone all street shots the same, etc.
    Your choice of RC vs fiber isn't something I'd like to be snobbish or arrogant about, but if you for example use Ilford MGIV RC and fiber papers, it would be important that they are of the same tonality, toning properties, and printing speed, in case you want to make another print of the same negative down the road. If I were you I'd stick to one kind, for the sake of consistency. It's easier to not go insane in the darkroom that way, and keeps you from choosing when you print, so you can just get on with interpreting negatives.

    My two cents.
     
  3. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Hi Katie,

    I use selenium toner on all my prints, not necessarily to change the tone but because I believe there is an archival benefit. I prefer to follow the same steps all the time.

    I prefer FB esthetically. Also it feels funny to me to wash only a few minutes. Always using FB lets me follow the same steps all the time.

    p.s. I'd never hesitate to use a different toner for a print that needs a different look.
     
  4. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

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    It seems I need to be more consistent in the darkroom. I AM driving myself crazy with testing different papers, methods, toners, etc...

    I have lots of various papers, though - some gifted and some purchased. I am not too crazy about the Sepia I have - will need to test the Moersh out (I have KRST). Selenium is easy, and I am finding that i use it most of the time as well. I would like to have a blue toner on hand for some water images I have made at the coast. I will be visiting Freestyle shortly it seems.
     
  5. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Katie, if I toned a print it would be because I thought that particular subject suited that particular treatment and would apply the same rule to any after treatment or alternative process. You may find the Colovir range fun to work with. With regard to RC or Fibre, I use RC all the time.
     
  6. clayne

    clayne Member

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    I always tone with selenium because it's very easy. It's 100% safe to Se tone right after the second fix bath so I do this and then wash.

    No need to wash and tone and then wash again.

    Se is almost always beneficial.
     
  7. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Pretty much. Usually selenium. Fiber not only looks better, behind glass or not, it is better – for any number of reasons you'll find elsewhere.

    What makes you think I wasn't going to nice? Was demanding I be nice, nice?

    To quote Col. Henry Blake of Mash, "It's nice to be nice to the nice".
     
  8. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Be careful with blue toner sold as "blue toner" is not (I believe) archival. Gold toner (aptly more $$) will go blue and it is archival. I generally tone my prints the same. At present, I tone all in gold. Have fun, figuring out what you like/don't!
     
  9. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I must be the odd one in the bunch.

    I don't tone unless the print needs it. My understanding is that archival property of the selenium toner is dependent upon the degree of toning. That would mean lightly selenium toned prints have very little protection. Conversely, to get a worthwhile protection, I have to tone it to the point the color change will be obvious. I happen to like the result I get from MGIV.

    So far, I played around with Selenium, two bath sepia, and brown. I use all of them occasionally but not as a rule.

    I use StabAG for print protection if I think the print is worth preserving.
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I frequently print with the effects of toning in mind. I would say therefore that it is best to take into account what toning will do for you when you are evaluating your test prints.

    I don't care about consistency per se, but like to be able to depend on consistency in the situations when I need it (I hope that makes sense).

    EDIT: I should mention that almost all of my printing is on RC. Behind glass, I don't think you can tell the difference between FB and RC.
     
  11. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    My subjects - landscapes, urban landscapes and architecture all get pretty much homogeneous treatment. MGIV FB/Dektol, toned lightly in Selenium - just enough to keep the tone neutral, give some slight intensification, and a slight increase in Dmax.

    There are no rules here. George Tice, one of my very favourite printers, uses a wide variety of papers/developers/toning depending on how each image prints. On the other end is a guy like John Sexton (another incredible printer), who uses a very narrow range of materials (the vast majority of his work is Kodak Polymax Fine Art FB in Dektol with a light Selenium toning).

    The only suggestion I'd make is to stick with a limited selection of materials until you've got a lot of experience. And I mean A LOT. A guy like Tice has had the time and eye to master the subtelties of a large array of materials. Most people, being part time photographers - even very serious and/or talented ones - will never be able to do that, even if they think they can. Mostly they are fooling themselves.

    Keep it simple.
     
  12. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

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    Thanks everyone! This all makes sense ... I think in order for me to print my best, I need to have order and symmetry to my habits. If I stick with one setup and master it - then I'll move on. I have had a hell of a time trying all these papers I have (maybe I will sell some that I'm not using) and trying to get the best out of them. I have some pretty old paper that I've tried, and of course not satisfied due to fogging (yes, I ordered some benzotriazole) I am testing out different toning techniques, too.

    I need to simplify. I don't get enough time to print anyway, so the few hours I have should be spent actually printing and not printing 7 of the same print to test out toning techniques. :smile: Yes, I just did that. I was pretty stoked about doing my first 11x14 and wanted to have several copies to play with. Oddly enough, my favorite was not toned (just briefly bleached in ferri to bring out the whites).

    I will limit my materials in hopes of getting this down to where it's printing and not testing. That's where I want to be anyway. I have another question, but will post it in another thread. I'm having printers block. :smile:
     
  13. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Hi Katie, toning is something that never stops being fun to play around with! I always tone my "keepers." I don't waste time on the other prints unless I'm using them for test strips to find the right toning times, dilutions, etc for the keepers. Selenium and sepia are the two I use the most. I also enjoy Viradon, it is beautiful with MGWT. And I have gold toner on hand as well, but honestly don't use it that much to justify the cost so I doubt I'll move on with that into the future. So certainly have selenium toner on hand. I use Kodak's RST and dilute 1:9 for MGIV. With MGIV FB I tone 6-8 minutes at 1:9 and get the most beautiful charcoally cold tones. I love it! With MGIV RC you'll only need 2-4 minutes. With MGWT you can get splits with this dilution at around 6-8 minutes where the shadows are the plummy-brown and the highlights stay coolish-sivler, works well for some work. For more sepia split tone work I will use selenium at the 1:19 dilution for more control.

    Sepia toner is an amazing toner and my favorite. I don't purchase pre-packaged kits. A thiocarbamide sepia toner is so easy and super cheap to mix from scratch there is no need to waste your money elsewhere. You only need 4 chems; potassium ferricyanide and potassium bromide for the bleach, and thiocarbamide and sodium hydroxide for the toner. By varying the amounts of sod hyd in the toner you can change the final color from bright yellows to cold purple blacks. And also diluting the bleach much more than normal gives more control, particularly with papers that bleach faster, (MGWT).

    As for RC vs. FB if you really want consistency I would choose one and go with it. If you find yourself limited for time many times I would go with RC. There is nothing wrong with printing on RC and I love Ilford's pearl finish! What I have recently done is give up printing anything small on fiber paper. It's just too much work and I find I enjoy printing small on 8x10 and 5x7 RC paper. It's fast, and fun, and the prints are super flat. But when I go up to 11x14 I find that printing on RC paper is.. and quoting what one poster on here said once "like printing on a dinner mat!" I much prefer fiber paper for larger prints, just lovely! I'm hoping to get up to 16x20 soon but we'll see. My darkroom is large but not that large!

    BTW... blue toner is not an archival toner and also very messy from what I've heard. I stay away from it for the simple reason of it not being archival.

    I think you mentioned you're always spending time testing different things in your darkroom. Pick two papers and one or two developers and roll with it. I think at this point in time the best two papers to roll with are Ilford's MGIV and MGWT. The experimenting will come with toning.

    Katie.. forgot to mention.. each and every of my photographs gets treated differently. I tone them each how I feel. Some with disagree with this approach. Take a look at my portfolio.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2012
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  15. bluejeh

    bluejeh Subscriber

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    Do you always tone your prints...

    Brian Steinberger: "I don't purchase pre-packaged kits. A thiocarbamide sepia toner is so easy and super cheap to mix from scratch..."

    Brian, are you using the cookbook for your toner and bleach recipes, or could you share the recipe with us giving examples of how much to vary the chemicals? Thanks.
     
  16. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

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    Yes please Brian! I looked at photographer formulary and found the chems, (I already make my own ferri) but have no idea as to ratios! I love the warm/blue split or a soft (not red) brown.
     
  17. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I tone most of my prints, either selenium or brown toner. For the brown I mix it very weak, 1/8th the strength it says on the bottle. This makes it very easy to control anywhere from just removing the green with a touch of warm to quite brown. Selenium is generally 1+19 for 3-5 minutes depending on the paper.

    The more I use modern RC papers the more I wonder why I bother with FB anyway. Yesyes, it probably lasts longer, but modern RC will probably last long enough for me. Even not under glass, it can look so good the difference is quite subtle, and it's so easy, and the paper dries without curl, or at least without the wavy corrugated cardboard look - maybe a bit of smooth curl toward the emulsion in my experience. (The difference between different papers is way more than the difference between FB and RC.)

    I'm still printing all my display prints and most for exchanges and such on FB, I'm just questioning my devotion to continuing to do that.

    At minimum, I keep RC paper around for contact prints, which go on glossy for better d-max than matte and no interference with fine detail under a loupe as with any textured paper) and for things like quick family prints and such which go on some variety of something like pearl, currently Arista Private Reserve aka Adox MCP 312.
     
  18. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    If all your work was of the same subject then I could see some argument for uniformaty. But for most photographers this is not true. Even AA took non-scenic photographs. Now this does not mean that a slight toning for archival preservation cannot be done. But archival protestion can also be achieved without toning. So my answer would be no.
     
  19. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Sure. I use the formula I got from the back of Tim Rudman's fantastic book, The Toning Book. Mine is a very subtle variation upon it...

    Thiocarbamide Sepia Toner

    Bleach:

    Water 750ml
    Potassium Ferricyanide 2-10g
    Potassium Bromide 2-5 g
    Water to make 1000ml (1L)

    Toner:

    Water 750ml
    Thiocarbamide 10g
    Sodium Hydroxide 3-10g
    Water to make 1000ml (1L)

    For the bleach it depends what paper I'm bleaching and how much I'm toning. If I'm toning to completion or almost to completion I'll use 10g or pot ferri and 5 g of pot bromide. If I'm looking for something more subtle like split toning MGWT I'll use 2g of each pot ferri and pot bromide.

    And with the toner I always start with 10g of thiocarbamide and then add between 3 and 10g of sod hydroxide. With MGWT there is less color variation available than with MGIV. Also with MGWT you will lose highlight density quicker upon redevelopment with the weaker additions of sod hydroxide (3-5g). So for MGWT I will use atleast 5g of sod hyd. With MGIV you can get away with anywhere from 3g which will be bright yellow to 6.5g which is a very nice sepia, to 10g which is a plummy brown.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2012
  20. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Katie for this you will want to very lightly selenium tone first, whether it be MGWT or MGIV and then wash, then mix up bleach at 2g of pot ferri and 2g of pot bromide per liter for bleach. Bleach anywhere from 10 sec to 40 sec. for MGWT and possibly a little longer for MGIV then wash then redevelop in thiocarbamide toner with at least 5g/L of sod hyd for MGWT. My preference for splits like this is dependent on the image of course, but I would recommend starting with 6g/L for MGWT and slightly less for MGIV. You can then adjust from there.

    Selenium can also be done after sepia toning, BUT with MGWT things can get out of control very quickly, with everything going too reddish brown too quickly.
     
  21. clayne

    clayne Member

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    I tone with Se 100% of the time because of the dmax change and not necessarily the color shift (although I like that as well, as long as coldness is kept under control).

    I also rarely use RC for anything but contact prints. Even 5x7s I print on FB. I do not find this takes a significant amount longer than if it were an 11x14 or 8x10. Same amount of drying - overnight, and then I use a Seal press to flatten them. Same procedure irregardless of print size - hang and bang.
     
  22. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    Hi Katie,

    I have done a lot of testing in my time as a photographer but learnt that standardisation is the best way to go. This way you know exactly how the prints will look when you make the image.

    What suits my work is:

    Mamiya 7 with 65mm lens.
    Ancient shoulder brace to allow shooting as slower speeds (1/60, 1/15 and rarely 1/8).
    Always f16 or f 22.
    Delta 400 rated at iso200 with exposure calculated to ensure adequate information in shadows falling on Zone III.
    Processed in a simple two-bath developer followed by rapid fixer for two minutes, wash for 4 minutes (to remove the dye), fix for a further two minutes followed by washing as per the Ilford system..
    Prints made on Adox Fine Print Vario Classic fibre paper with first exposure at a hard grade for enough time to achieve good black and dark shadow separation and (when necessary) followed by localised burning-in of any overly bright highlights at grade 2.
    Developed in Dokumol at 1 + 6 for 3.5 minutes.
    Water Stop-Bath
    Archival two fixer baths method.
    Selenium toner mixed with Hypo Clear for 3 minutes (discarded after thirty 16" x 12" prints).
    Test print dried in a microwave to ensure that dry-down is compensated for.
    Final print(s) developed as above and then washed for one hour in a Silverprint archival washer running at 7 litres per minute and using the total dump facility every 15 minutes.
    Dry face down on Zone VI drying screens.
    Dry mounted on to archival museum board and then window matted ready for framing for exhibitions or sales.

    This has ben my practice for the past 15 years and works well for me. It doesn't matter how long a break I have had from making images or processing film and printing. All is 'fixed' in my head and easily repeatable.

    This doesn't mean all prints are easy to make of course! All my negatives yield an OK print but achieving a print that is exactly what I want based on my original idea can take a lot of time (the world is not perfect!). However, I would rather spend the time achieving my original idea than testing loads of different papers, chemicals and toners. I have found that (with the exception of some truly awful materials - mainly RC paper in my case) most combinations of film, development, paper, toner, etc can yield excellent results so long as you have learnt what they can deliver and balance your technique to match.

    In conclusion to this rather long and winding response, I would sum up as follows:

    Concentrating on achieving consistent and repeatable results makes your photography more productive and enjoyable.

    Best,

    David.
    www.dsallen.de
     
  23. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Thomas, I use this paper and I don't think I see a green cast. Is it developer dependent?
     
  24. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Bethe,

    Out of the developers I have tried, Ilford MGWT (and most other chlorobromide papers) gives a green cast to the mid-tones. I've used 130, Dektol, Ilford Multigrade, 120, Ethol LPD (replenished), Edwal Ultra Black.
    It may be that other developers don't give this cast, but I certainly haven't tried them all, and nowadays I only use replenished LPD anyway.

    Two prints attached to show it. The 'Maid' is MGWT, and the portrait of my second cousin is on Forte Polywarmton.

    Hope that helps.
     

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  25. clayne

    clayne Member

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    It's not only developer dependent but also development time/exposure dependent.

    One thing I like about 130 is it's similarity to Dektol but it's tempering of the green cast. Doesn't really matter much to me though as it just goes through the KRST 1+20 anyways.
     
  26. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Hmm, I'll be double-checking mine in few minutes, I guess. I use Ilford multigrade developer. I do see it in your scans, but really can't say I noticed it in my prints before.