Fixing after bleach and toning - what is the correct process?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Ghostman, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. Ghostman

    Ghostman Subscriber

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    I do quite a lot of very dilute bleaching (1:100+) and toning using sepia and selenium. I mostly use Ilford Art 300, MG Fiber WT or MG FB. My typical process goes something like this:

    • Print
    • Develop, Stop, Fix, 10 min inse in archive washer, 10 min Hypo wash, 20 min Rinse in archive washer
    • Dry
    Then I take to toning and it goes something like this:

    • Soak prints in water
    • Bleach (very dilute e.g. 1:100)
    • Quick rinse in water tray
    • Sepia tone (very dilute e.g. 1:100)
    • Quick rinse in water tray
    • Selenium tone
    • 20 minute wash in archive washer
    I sometimes use carbon, sienna or blue toning.

    Does this toning process require any fixing or are my prints sufficiently stable?
     
  2. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    When you tone your prints, for example when you use selenium toner, you turn the silver into silver selenide, (you transform silver from one state to another, and that in itself makes the print more stable. Blue toner is an exception and is not considered archival treatment).

    When you fix your prints, you remove undeveloped silver halide components from the print surface.

    After toning there are not more silver halide components to remove from the print, thus fixing after toning is completely unnecessary.

    -

    Edit: I should add that if you do indirect toning, and bleach before you tone, however much you bleach back the print, you must 're-develop' the print in your toner to completion. The bleach does indeed return the silver to a halide form, and you don't want to leave any of those undeveloped, because they are not stable.
     
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  3. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    It looks like you are doing everything correct , I suspect you get a very slight tone in the highlights and cooler blacks which is one of my favourite toning looks.
     
  4. Ghostman

    Ghostman Subscriber

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    Thank you for the replies. Yes, I get a beautiful warmth in the highlights, I literally drag my prints through the sepia as it works very quickly after bleaching and then I give them a couple of minutes in selenium. So far it's a look that I love and works for me.

    Here is an example of the toning effect I get from my process.
     
  5. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Looks like Art 300, you are getting quite a bit of warmth with the bleach dilution, how long do you bleach for?
     
  6. Ghostman

    Ghostman Subscriber

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    The bleaching takes quite a while, probably about 2-3 minutes or until I see the highlights coming out, then I snatch it out and put it into a tray of fresh water to rinse it. At this stage it seems to be very sensitive to sepia toning (I use Moersch sepia tone) and I literally drag it through. The print does not get more than 5 seconds in sepia as it acts very very quickly.
     
  7. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Found Metal.jpg Veg Fruit612.jpg
    Funny how different people work

    I use a bleach formula that is very strong by comparison, and I try to be in the bleach no more than 40 seconds, sometimes I just dip it in the bleach for 5-10 seconds to get a hint of sepia in the high regions.

    I have found that having running water and a aluminum sheet on a tray to immediately wash off the bleach is very handy.

    One thing I learned from Bill Schawb is to build up the tone by bleaching, washing, tone, then re bleaching / toning until I get the desired tone I am looking for.
    This allows more control of the colour and actually not a pain by adding more time as it is a very fast sequence.

    I am doing a series of prints for a personal show in California right now where I need to bleach the print to lift the highlights , then fix , hypo clear wash as normal.
    then do a quad tone sequence.
    This allows me to bleach lightly to get tone in highlight only, then gold tone for the upper mid-tones, selenium for the shadows and then horror of horrors add a blue tone that seems to want to attach itself to the lower mid-tones. I do this on Ilford Matt paper which really likes toning and the effect if I do it correctly is beautiful.

    Since Solarizations try to move everything to middle grey other than the maki lines, I have found that my toning sequence needs to be more sophisticated than any other print process I tone for. I feel that I am getting a handle on it now after quite a few prints. FWIW - this is one of the most rewarding parts of wet darkroom work, the ability to control the final look and create an intense emotion out of silver paper.



     
  8. Ghostman

    Ghostman Subscriber

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    Hi Bob,

    Thank you very much for your input, your examples are wonderful. It is funny how different people work. Much like food and cooking, we develop a relationship with the materials and 'get inside' how they work and think, or feel.

    I have made a few prints where I used a bleach, sepia, blue tone sequence, which i love. I used my usual dilution for bleach and sepia to warm the high and mid tones. The blue seemed to hit the mid to dark tones which is exactly what I was after.

    This was on Agfa MC 118 FB

    2013-01-20_at_20-36-41_2.jpg
     
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  9. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    I have a question for you pros:

    I have a bunch on fogged papers that I want to print normally (print, develop, stop, Fix). After the fix, can I Bleach them to save it from the slight fog? And do I simply wash it after the bleach or do I have to re-fix it? I'm only looking to give it an edgy look and clear the fog a little bit...

    Thanks!!
     
  10. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    re fix if you only bleach, then wash.
    If you add toner then just wash.

    If you do not your print will be comprimised
     
  11. Ghostman

    Ghostman Subscriber

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    I'm no Pro, but I would over try and over-expose a little and then bleach back. It should create a very contrasty look.

    When you bleach you turn the silver back into a halide and since fixing removes halides (undeveloped) fixing might remove them from the print whereas toning in selenium would convert the halides into a stable state, you might try redeveloping in selenium after bleaching or simply washing.
     
  12. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    You certainly are getting some blue tones, what are you using, the colour is fantastic.
     
  13. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    That's what I thought! Thanks Bob!

    Another question for you; What do you think about bleaching fogged prints?
     
  14. Ghostman

    Ghostman Subscriber

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    I was given a test pack to try from Fotospeed. It's BT Iron Blue Toner.
     
  15. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Not much, I prefer fresh paper from Ilford.
    You could get away with some of the more exotic methods, like lith, or dev, bleach re develop and so forth.
     
  16. Marco Buonocore

    Marco Buonocore Member

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    Ghostman,

    I worry about the 4th step in your toning sequence; using "very dilute" sepia toner. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Using a very dilute bleach is one thing, but you want to make sure you've redeveloped everything you bleached away, right? That's my feeling. With sepia toner, I've always been told to tone "to completion" - whether it was bleached fully or partially. Toning to completion with sepia toner diluted 1:100 doesn't seem possible.

    I give my prints a 10 minute wash between bleach and sepia toner - however I usually bleach all the way back.
     
  17. Ghostman

    Ghostman Subscriber

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    Hi Marco,

    Thanks for the input. I don't sepia 'to completion' as the papers I used are so warm that even just bleaching can bring out warmth. I really just run the print through the sepia (5-10 seconds). They then get rinsed and put in Selenium for a few minutes. Wouldn't this Selenium bath stabilize the silver?
     
  18. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    As I mentioned in my first post, you don't want any rehalogenated, (bleach rehalogenates the silver to male it possible for some toners to work, like sepia), silver left in your prints after indirect toning. Indirect = toners that use bleach.

    You really should fully redevelop your prints in the toner, because the halide state of silver left undeveloped is not stable. What you can do is to be more careful with your bleach. Bob's mention of Bill Schwab's technique to bleach and tone in stages is a great way to accomplish subtle toning.

    I like to use sepia too, but I dilute the bleach and use the toner at full strength. What I use now is Moersch MT-3 variable sulfide toner, and I dilute the bleach 1+50, and bleach until I see the highlights starting to change.
    I then rinse under running water for five minutes, and dunk in the toner, at full strength, for two minutes. The effect is really subtle and lends just a hint of beautiful warmth to the highlights. If I feel that I need more highlight warmth, I do like Bob and Bill and bleach again. But I always full re-develop in the toner according to Wolfgang Moersch's instructions (2 minutes to complete).
    If I follow with selenium I get warmer results yet, and maroon toned shadows. A nice combination.
     
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  19. Marco Buonocore

    Marco Buonocore Member

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    Ghostman,

    By toning to completion, I mean that you want to redevelop all the silver that was bleached out. If you find you are getting too warm of a tone with your current process, I would suggest bleaching for a shorter amount of time or by bleaching with an even more dilute solution. I understand that warmtone papers bleach very fast. But you would always want a full strength sepia bath. I suppose that selenium afterwards would "stabilize the silver", but wouldn't you just be effectively lightening the overall print density by bleaching and not redevloping? Usually that's not desireable. A side effect of this overall lightening might be a warming of the image tone. If I use farmer's reducer, or something similar, I find the print tone takes on a slight warmth: a straw colour. I wonder if you're not seeing this in your finished prints?

    For the record, I use a bleach approximately 1/20th strength for Ilford Warmtone. That would be 2.2g Potassium ferricyanide and 2.5g potassium bromide in 2000ml water. Times vary, but it's in the realm of 45 seconds. That will warm up my highlights. If I felt it was too warm, I would add another litre of water to the bleach to dilute it further, making it more subtle.

    Good luck!
     
  20. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I agree with Marco and Thomas about toning to completion

    I also know of a lot of photographers **editorial/fashion** who would use a non completion tone as suggested , it does give a distinct hit of tone, but the prints would change over time.
     
  21. Ghostman

    Ghostman Subscriber

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    Marco and Thomas,

    Many thanks for your advice and input. I now understand why one should tone to completion - I never considered that I might be diminishing the overall print density by not doing so. The straw colour which you mention is exactly what I am seeing and to be honest, I find it very beautiful. Since I am printing a mostly Art 300 these days and it apparently has the same emulsion as Ilford WT, I will try your suggestions of iterative bleaching and toning, lessening my bleaching times or using an even more dilute bleach solution.

    Here is one of my images on Ilford WT, developed in Harman WT developer, FULLY bleached back and fully toned in Moersch MT3. It was a grossly over-exposed print which I thought I would use as a test. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. It is deadly sharp, has an interesting tone and is wonderful to look at.

    2013-05-06_1_2.jpg
     
  22. Ghostman

    Ghostman Subscriber

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    Many thanks Bob. I am very appreciative of your input. I should be printing this weekend and will revise and practice toning.