Question regarding Sepia toning

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Marco B, May 13, 2006.

  1. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Hi all,

    I have just today, for the very first time in my life, sepia toned an image. I was absolutely *** thrilled *** to see the results! Although I have been printing my own images on RC, and now almost exclusively on FB, paper for some three years now, it more or less felt like finally receiving my analog photography "driving" licence ;-)

    What craftmanships are lost in the digital revolution?... Shame (or pity?) on those former analog photographers that completely turned digital and closed their darkroom for ever... Printing this way in my darkroom is so much more satisfactory.

    Anyway, I have one question:
    Before attempting my "first sepia", I have created 5 almost identical FB prints based on a single negative, just some slight variations in exposure to test the effect of the toning.
    I kept two of the images untoned, for comparison.
    When all 5 prints were doing their final wash in fresh running water, I noticed there was a slight, barely noticeable (I noticed it just in comparison to the untoned images) brown toning even on the *unexposed* parts of the toned images, compared to the untoned ones.

    My question:
    Is this normal? Or is this the result of a possible incomplete fixation? I regularly check my fixate, and nothing seems to be wrong. Fixation times have also been more than OK... What causes this, or is this indeed normal and does the toning also slightly affect the unexposed white parts of a photo?

    I did make one mistake. I have thrown the first of the three images I toned straight from the bleaching bath into the toning bath (well, I guess a bad habit from the normal printing practice ;-) , where you do not have to wash inbetween the baths). I have actually not seen any detrimental effects in the final image quality, but admitably my toning bath is slightly contaminated with the bleach bath. Can this be a cause, or am I worrying about nothing?

    Cheers,

    Marco
     
  2. John Simmons

    John Simmons Member

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    Marco, what paper are you using for sepia toning?
     
  3. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Hi John,

    I have been using my last "stock" of AGFA Multicontrast MC111 FB paper. The toner was AMALOCO T-10 Sepiton, I think it's actually a dutch brand that makes this (I am living in the Netherlands), so you may not know it.
     
  4. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Two additional remarks:
    - The paper was the "Glossy" variant.
    - As the instructions that came with the T-10 Sepiton clearly stated that it could be used with day- or normal electric light, I have indeed been doing so, so I have not been toning in subdued "dark-room" type of light.
     
  5. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    And how do you check your fixate? Do you use a two
    bath fixate? Do you check your prints using the ST-1
    sulfide test for residual silver? Dan
     
  6. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    The only danger in going directly from the bleach to the toner is the rapid deteriation of the toner. I am not familiar with th brand you used, but all bleach - redevlop toners are similar.

    Be sure you thoroughly wash the prints prior to bleaching. This will help eliminate uneven toning or spotting. AS for the toning of the highlights, this could be a result of the combinatio of the warm tone paper and the particular sepia toner.

    Since toning has really turned you on to the darkroom look for Tim Rudman's Toning Book.

    Normal room light is the thing to use with sepia so that the progress may be easily monitored.
     
  7. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    Marco,

    Although I do not have experience with the paper you are printing on, could it be wash times? Very often if I have an underwashed image when going to toning, I will get a staining of the highlights and white borders. This seems to happen more often with warmer tone papers.

    Normally I follow this procedure:

    - Wash for 45 minutes to an hour after fixing.
    - Hypo-clear bath, then short rinse.
    - Bleach bath at a dilution of 1:9
    - 1-2 minute rinse
    - Toning bath
    - 1-2 minute rinse

    Many times I will repeat the last 4 steps several times while building the tone I desire. After I am satisfied with the tone I go to a rinse of about 10 minutes before going into a very diluted hardening bath. I then go through a normal archival wash before drying and mounting. I use the hardening bath as a resolution to the problem I was having with the paper I print on continuing to tone even after washing. The slight hardening bath was suggested and it works very well.

    Bill
     
  8. dlin

    dlin Member

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    The bleached print is somewhat sensitive to light. The bleaching procedure rehalogenates the silver in your print, which is why you can redevelop it in toner or another developer. Try doing your toning procedure under very low intensity tungsten lighting or even safelight conditions. Avoid any flourescent lighting or direct daylight.

    All the best,
    Daniel
     
  9. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Hi all,

    Thanks for the answers. Some specific responses:

    Dan: Up to yesterday, when I bought the last issue of Black & White Photography and read your comments, I was unaware that it was possible to test for remaining silver in "finished" prints, or to test for remaining sulphide (inadequate washing). In the B&W issue, Silverprint advertised with a test for the latter. I will definitely buy such a test soon, as I want to make sure I'm up to "archival" standards with my prints.

    However, up to now, I have been doing an indirect test by testing my fixing bath silver content using two methods (just to be sure):
    - Tetenal test strips that show the actual silver content in g/liter
    - Amaloco X10 fluid indicator that turns milky white if the fixing bath is exhausted.

    The X10 was recommended to me by a number of fellow Dutch photographers as an accurate way of testing the fixate. From my experience up to now and comparison with the Tetenal strips, the X10 shows the fixing bath to be exhausted somewhere between 2 - 3 g/liter silver content (closer to 3 I think).
    Strangely, the Tetenal included instructions did not indicate a threshold value for an exhausted fixing bath... So I had to compare to X10 to determine that.

    Up to now, I have seen no indication of "bad" or inadequate fixation in any of my archived prints, so it seems to be good.

    Bill:
    I have washed the prints for some 45 minutes in running 20 degrees celcius water before (and after) toning. Actually, I do not have "stains", the coloration is only very slight and completely uniform over the unexposed parts of the print. So it isn't also an issue in terms of easthetics, actually, it fits the print. I was just worried and curious how it came about, since I would not have expected coloration in parts that were supposed to be "silver-free".

    My conclusion up to now, considering responses:
    I think the coloration is normal, especially taking into account what Jim said:

    "AS for the toning of the highlights, this could be a result of the combinatio of the warm tone paper and the particular sepia toner."

    I think indeed it may simply be caused by my particular toner / paper combination. I may be doing a test in "darkroom" type situation soon as a final test to be absolutely sure, in combination with a print type test as suggested by Dan.

    If anyone has something else to remark or contribute, it is of course still welcome... I have included the toned image below for all of you to enjoy (well, hopefully ;-)...) Please note that my scanner still needs proper calibrating, so the scanned image looks a bit more redish and colourful than the original sepia toned print.

    My personal homepage: Beam of Light

    Marco

    [​IMG]
     
  10. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    The bleached IMAGE is more precise. By bleach time there is
    not to be any other silver present. Dan
     
  11. unregistered

    unregistered Inactive

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    ""AS for the toning of the highlights, this could be a result of the combinatio of the warm tone paper and the particular sepia toner.""

    This isn't correct. It doesn't matter what paper/sepia toner combination you used. Even though you might not think there was exposure, unless your highlights are bullet proof, some exposure will get there, and the sepia will interact with what little density there is. That is why you are seeing what you are.

    In all actuallity you do not need to wash so long between the fix and the bleach/sepia. In fact, having a little fix can speed up the bleaching process, although I don't reccomend that as a "tool" unless you always do your toning the same way so you can get consistant results. I only rinse my prints for 1 minute before I put them in the bleach...under a fast stream of water. And there's a lot of things you can do to further expand the possibilities of sepia toning. Here are a few ideas:

    1)Play with the amount of Ferricyanide you use in relation to the Bromide (the bleach part...part A). Kodaks formula was 50-60% ferricyanide to 40-50% Bromide. Doubleing up the ferricyanide will speed up the bleach time.
    2)The amount of bleach time determines how much the sepia will tone. A quick bath will tone only the highlights and upper mid-tomnes, leaving the deeper tones and shadows unchanged. You can then use a selenium toner for the lower tones to achieve split tone look.
    3)Bleach and fix several times before you do the last bleach/tone. You can control what values have what color, from a tanish color in the upper highs to sepia in the mid tones to dark brown (or purple if you use selenium like in #2) in the shadows.

    Good luck
     
  12. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Hi Alexis,

    Thanks for the tips and comments. Yes, it may indeed also be simply a matter of a slight exposure to the supposedly "unexposed" parts. Obviously, the toning is more revealing than a possible very light grey toning on my paper.

    I will test this by running a few pieces of unexposed paper through my developer baths straight from their package, so without exposing them under my enlarger, keeping possible illumination to an absolute minimum. After that, if the papers are still being toned, either my package of paper has somehow been exposed (which I doubt, because I have seen the possible effects of that... and I always keep paper stuffed in the closed package, I only take out a piece of paper when I really need it), or Jim was right and paper can somehow slightly be toned depending on paper and toner used.

    Marco
     
  13. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    [QUOTES=Marco B]
    "Dan: Up to yesterday, when I bought the last issue of
    Black & White Photography and read your comments, I was
    unaware that it was possible to test for remaining silver in
    "finished" prints, or to test for remaining sulphide
    (inadequate washing).
    In the B&W issue, Silverprint advertised with a test for the
    latter. I will definitely buy such a test soon, as I want to
    make sure I'm up to "archival" standards with my prints."

    For residual silver the ST-1 test is used. It is a toning test
    which uses a very dilute sodium sulfide solution. See page 4 of
    the following. www.silverprint.co.uk/PDF/Rapid_fixer.pdf
    Be sure to read all of the Silver Concentration paragraph. You'll
    see that your silver levels exceed even those of commercial
    standards. So, you've a long long way to go to meet
    archival standards.

    For residual fixer the HT-2 test is used. Also a toning test.
    Silver in the test solution will be toned by any sulfur left
    in the emulsion. To approach archival levels the test
    should show NO stain what so ever.


    "However, up to now, I have been doing an indirect test by
    testing my fixing bath silver content using two methods ....
    - Tetenal test strips ... show the ... silver content in g/liter
    - Amaloco X10 fluid indicator that turns milky white if the
    fixing bath is exhausted."

    "The X10 was recommended to me by a number of fellow
    Dutch photographers as an accurate way of testing the
    fixate. From my experience up to now and comparison with
    the Tetenal strips, the X10 shows the fixing bath to be
    exhausted somewhere between 2 - 3 g/liter silver
    content (closer to 3 I think).
    Strangely, the Tetenal included instructions did not
    indicate a threshold value for an exhausted fixing bath...
    So I had to compare to X10 to determine that."

    "Up to now, I have seen no indication of "bad" or
    inadequate fixation in any of my archived prints,
    so it seems to be good."

    Perhaps you are safe but single bath fixing and those very
    high silver levels leave you far from archival. Dan
     
  14. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I think you will find that there was a very slight, almost unoticeable, gray tone in the highlights of the original print. Sepia toning makes this much more noticeable. You may have had just a little bit of fog on the paper, either from age or too much safelight exposure. Another possibility is that the prints were not completely fixed and washed. Any silver or silver thiosulfate complex left in the print will get toned. Fixing and washing are much more critical for prints that are to be toned. While we are at this, I would recommend a non-hardening fixer, like F-24 or F-34 for prints that are going to be toned. Unhardened prints wash more easily and usually tone better.
     
  15. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Hi all,

    Again thanks for all the answers, I've learned a lot. I indeed still think I may have more of a darkroom safety issue, and slight fogging on my prints before toning, than a real fixing issue. Dan's reference to the Ilford document, with solid guidelines for max. silver levers in fixing bath, was very useful. However, I think haven't been doing that much wrong, because although I wrote that X-10 would indicate an exhausted bath at the - to high - 2 to 3 g/l level, I have never gone that far, and used a save margin. I have been taking into account paper usage as well, and that means I have usually refreshed my fixing bath well below the 2 g/l silver level, which should be save according to the Ilford document for medium term and commercial permanence. Well, maybe not an archival 150 years, but I would be interested to know how many people actually refresh their fixer at a max. level of 0.5 g/l, as would be required for that according to the Ilford document...

    Anyway, as stated in my last post above, I do intend on running a few further test to determine a possible cause (whether bad fixing or fogging due to safelight). It may be sometime before I can report on the results...

    Marco
     
  16. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    There are many who do that well and better.
    A TWO bath fix is the norm and what you need
    for great milage and archival results.

    BTW, the HT-2 test, a silver for sulfur test,
    is to be made after all washing and drying. It is
    a test for Hypo levels remaining in the emulsion.
    As Hypo and silver must and do go together
    it is safe to assume that if Hypo remains
    so does some silver.

    Did you notice that silver levels are volumetric?
    Did you notice that no mention of dilutions or brand
    or type of fixer is made? Of course it's an Ilford PDF
    so an easy matter to infer ... But it turns out to
    be a very inclusive statement with regard to
    fixers and their capacity.

    As long as there is the chemistry present to fix
    well, sodium or ammonium, brand x, y, or z, dilution
    whatever, the capacity per unit volume remains the
    same. Ilford's archival limit is 0.5 grams/liter. Dan