Selenium toning & Hypo Clear

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by ParkerSmithPhoto, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Member

    Messages:
    1,368
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I have always been under the (perhaps mistaken) impression that you must wash your prints before selenium toning, because residual fix will cause prints to stain in selenium.

    For many years, I have used the following procedure: fix, hypo clear, wash in trays with five or six "soaks" in fresh water, each soak about ten minutes, then selenium tone, three more soaks and dry. (I used Kodak standard fix for many years, but switched to rapid fix a couple of years back. I have never had any print show stains, even my oldest prints, which are 20 years old.)

    Reading Barnbaum (which some may recommend against): he tones his prints right after fixing, then hypo clears, then tray soaks to wash. Other photographers have commented that they do a full wash, then tone, then hypo clear again, with another full wash.

    So, I'm wondering how the APUG playas handle their toning. If I can change the workflow, it would definitely save some time and energy. Washing prints is not my favorite thing to do, so I try to balance the "archival" obsession with some practicality.
     
  2. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Member

    Messages:
    1,368
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    To clarify, I have never once (to the best of my memory) used hypo clear after selenium toning. Now, I have just read that selenium toner contains a small amount of fixer! D'oh!
     
  3. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,361
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Location:
    Michigan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think it's well documented, even on the Kodak Selenium Toner instructions, that residual fixer will result in stains. I too always to a through washing before any kind of toning. I have never read Barnbaum, so I can't comment on that.
     
  4. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,241
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I typically tone my print as another session, often on different days. So I wash completely and dry completely before the toning stage.

    When I make my test prints, I do fix, HCA, then 10 minutes wash before toning. I never had staining issues but then again, I never held on to these prints long enough if the staining occurs months later.
     
  5. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

    Messages:
    1,888
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Location:
    Blue Ridge,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I fix (in TF4), hypo clear for 3 minutes with constant agitation, wash for 10 minutes in an efficient washer, Se tone, for good measure run through the hypo clear again, and wash another 10 minutes in the washer.
     
  6. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,110
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2002
    Location:
    Melbourne, A
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    One of the main ingredients in KRST is ammonium thiosulfate, so there's no point in being paranoid about some residual thiosulfate in the prints before Se toning. Other fixing intermediate products maybe, but your two bath fixing will deal with them.

    The worst thing you can put in KRST is acid, because it causes decomposition. If your fixer is acidic, you need to get that out before Se toning. A good soak in sodium sulfite would do, possibly better than HCA because the HCA is not so alkaline.
     
  7. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

    Messages:
    397
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I use hypo clearing agent and selenium toner mixed together for over 20 years. I have not encountered any yellow stains or stains in general and color changes on the black and white print. My mixture ranged from 1:20 and 1:9 ratio; selenium:hypo clearing agent for certain effects.

    I don't wait to tone my prints later on. I tone them when they come out of the fixer, then put them in a holding tray or put them in my cascade print washer.

    :smile:
     
  8. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

    Messages:
    2,563
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2007
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    I have no problems selenium toning after the fixer. Not directly after. I wash them for 5 minutes in running water then into the washer where they are held until the printing is done, then into selenium. After selenium hypo-clear is a must! Then final wash. When I discovered I could tone with a short wash after the fixer I was delighted as it saves time.
     
  9. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Member

    Messages:
    1,368
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    What? Read the manual? I guess that is helpful, periodically. :cool:

    This is a classic case of doing it one way for so long that it never occurs to you that there might be an easier way! :blink:

    I'm officially switching to a FIX - TONE - HYPO CLEAR - WASH workflow.

    Thanks!
     
  10. David Allen

    David Allen Member

    Messages:
    778
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2008
    Location:
    Berlin
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    My sequence for more than 30 years that has always delivered consistent results is as follows (i have reference prints that are this old and I have a few customers who have images of mine framed and hanging in their homes that I occasionally visit. No images have any signs of deterioration):

    Develop for 3 minutes

    Water stop-bath (changed after every two prints)

    Fix bath 1

    Fix bath 2

    5 minutes wash in a tray

    Selenium tone

    Hypo clear / wash aid /what is available or self-made

    60 minutes in an efficient archival print washer (currently Martin's super Silverprint Archival Print Washer with dump facility)

    Air dry on fiberglass screens

    I used to mix the Selenium toner with Hypo-clear and then follow with an additional Hypo-clear bath but met a photographic research scientist many years ago at Photokina who pointed out that:

    1. The Hypo-clear mixed in to the Selenium Toner only had a fixed capacity and this would be exhausted long long before the Selenium Toner lost it's effectiveness

    2. Current research (1990?) was that the Hypo-clear impeded the effectiveness of the Selenium Toner thereby requiring much longer toning times

    3. The Hypo-clear in the Selenium Toner did not increase the efficiency of the separate Hypo-clear bath so why add it to the Selenium Toner?

    Martin of Silverprint used to have a very similar sequence on his website but I couldn't find it to cross-reference.

    Going back to OP's original sequence it must be clearly stated that, for archival quality to be reached, you must use Hypo-clear after Selenium toning and then wash for 1 hour.

    p.s I do not any longer live or shop in the UK and have no shares or special interests in Silverprint other than admiration for the many years (plus Goldfinger days of course) of commitment to excellence in B&W photography.

    Best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,264
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would like to avoid any risk at all, so I wash thoroughly between fixing and toning. Usually this happens naturally anyway, since I make more than one print at a time. My print washer has 14 slots, and for the most part I don't stop printing until the washer is full. By the time I put the last print into the washer, I can safely go through and tone all the prints, beginning with the first one.
    I actually have some prints that are only eight or nine years old that have selenium toner / fixer stains on them. I'm not sure of the exact cause of this, but it does motivate me to wash the prints well before any toning takes place.

    Of course, if I use sepia toning, my choice is to do that prior to selenium, in which case I have to wash all of the fixer out of the print prior to bleaching. But that's another story.
     
  12. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

    Messages:
    1,322
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon and Austria
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Here we go again... :wink:

    First, there is no reason to wash prints between a (second) fixing bath and the selenium toner provided that the fixer is not acidic. Ansel Adams recommended plain hypo as a second fix and no intermediate wash before the toner. (Haven't we all read all his books here?)

    Yes, transferring prints without an intermediate wash from acidic fixers to selenium toner will result in stains and reduced toner life. Many commercial rapid fixers, however, are not so acidic as to cause problems. I routinely use Ilford Rapid Fix and Hypam as well as Kodak's Rapid Fix without hardener in the weaker print dilution as my second fixing bath and transfer prints directly to the toner. No problems whatsoever in 25 years.

    Stains will result if your prints are not fixed adequately. You can think of your selenium toner as kind of a down-and-dirty residual silver test; if your prints stain when transferred directly from a not-acidic fix to the toner, it means you have not fixed them adequately and should fix better.

    Now, on to the hypo-clear... Both Kodak and Ilford have (and do) recommend mixing the selenium toner with hypo-clear (or wash aid, if you prefer). This used to be standard practice.

    However, since hypo-clearing agents exhaust much more quickly than the selenium toning solution, one would have to either toss a lot of still-active toner out (and the polluting selenium with it!), or, keep track of the prints and, when the hypo clear in the toner was exhausted, mix and use a separate one. Both of these are lousy options.

    I advocate not mixing selenium toner with hypo-clear, and using a separate hypo-clearing bath after the toner (with or without intermediate rinse, which will extend the life of the hypo-clear). Furthermore, I replenish and keep my selenium toning solutions, filtering them before and after use, thereby never having to dump toxic selenium into the environment (water-treatment plants do NOT remove selenium and other heavy metals from the effluent).

    If you must dump selenium toner, do use it to exhaustion and then toss a few scrap prints in to scavenge the remaining selenium. The resulting solution will at least have less toxic selenium in it when you dump it. Better, however, to just keep it and reuse, adding a bit of concentrate from time to time when toning times get too long. I have two gallons that have been going for well over five years. By the way, after using the old toner, hypo-clearing and washing, my prints pass both residual silver and residual hypo tests with flying colors.

    Best,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  13. pgomena

    pgomena Member

    Messages:
    1,386
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, Or
    My former procedure was to fix in a non-hardening fixer (standard or rapid), move prints to be toned into a pure sodium thiosulfate bath for 5 minutes, drain the print, and proceed directly to a KRST/hypo clear bath, followed by a good wash. I never washed prints between the pure hypo and toner/hypo clear bath, and I never experienced stains.

    I eventually changed to separate KRST and hypo clear baths. It makes more sense as far as the process goes.

    Peter Gomena
     
  14. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,374
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    A lot of this depends on one's own workflow and needs. I found it best to tone after I had printed several different images over a period of weeks. So all prints were completely fixed, washed and dried -- then I would pick the best to tone (16x20 prints).

    Due to the rapid and drastic color change that I was dealing with (Portriga Rapid), I had to standardize my process to achieve the exact same color, print after print...I wanted the intermediate color where the paper would go from (ugly) warm-green to beautiful rich reddish-brown to (ugly) purple. My needs were different, so my process was different than many people's.

    Prints fully fixed, HCA'd, washed and dried
    Selenium toner mixed with HCA at 1:16 at about 100 to 110F
    Pre-wet prints
    Put print in toner for 30 seconds, drain for 15 seconds, water rinse
    HCA for 3 to 5 minutes
    Wash for 40 minutes

    Vaughn
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 9, 2012
  15. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

    Messages:
    1,322
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon and Austria
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Vaughn,

    I, too, print a lot of prints, wash and dry (no HCA the first time) and then pick the keepers for toning sessions. I give my prints only the first fixing bath and save the second for the toning session.

    My work flow looks like this:

    Pre-soak prints
    Fixing bath two
    Selenium toner (with no intermediate rinse)
    Wash aid (again, no intermediate rinse; although a rinse would increase the capacity of the wash aid some, I don't need it)
    Wash
    Stabilizer (Sistan or equivalent)
    Dry face-up on screens.

    As to your short toning times: First, 30 seconds seems way too short to get reliably even toning. Using a weaker dilution should give the same results but with more controllable, longer, toning times (eliminating that "rapid and drastic color change"). Also, as you tone, selenium gets used up. Prints at the end of a toning session toned for the same time as the first will exhibit less toning. Toning times need to be extended as the toner exhausts. I always work visually, keeping both toned and untoned prints next to the toning tray for comparison.

    And, as I mentioned above, when the toning times get to long, I replenish my toning solution with a bit of the concentrate.

    Maybe that system will work for you?

    Best,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  16. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,374
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Any system that works, works. Mine worked spot on. I did waste selenium as I did not re-use the bath after toning the prints on hand (perhaps 15 prints in 3 oz of KST:48 oz of HCA). Being a fool, I wanted a system that was relatively fool-proof. It was also the technique taught to me by Thomas Joshua Cooper when he was teaching here at the university...so I stuck with a method that worked for me. To be frank -- I have never passed on this technique to students. It does not forgive any sloppiness (both in the original processing of the prints and the toning itself) that most students seem to be in the habit of having.

    I also fixed all prints fully before washing and drying -- I never knew how long it would be until I got around to selenium toning a particular print. I still have some prints I might tone 20+ years down the line . I do not know if such vintage prints would tone the same way as when they were 'fresh'. Toning now, I would probably not use hot toner and just judge the toning progress by eye. I rarely print silver gelatin these days -- carbon prints and platinum prints don't need selenium!

    FWIW...never saw any un-even toning with the 30 seconds toning time. The prints were well soaked in water and perhaps the high temperature of the toning bath helped.
     
  17. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

    Messages:
    1,322
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon and Austria
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Vaughn,

    Yeah, my toning takes place within a month or so of the printing. If I were planning on waiting longer, I'd likely give full fixation.

    But, back to the topic of selenium toning. I encourage replenishment and reuse of toner because of environmental concerns (which were likely not foremost in any of our minds 30 years ago :smile: ).

    My replenishment scheme has worked well for me for years, with zero wasted selenium, so it's economical as well. When I started doing this, my concern was that some by-products might build up in the selenium bath that were bad for the prints. However, I routinely test for residual silver and hypo and have had only great results. It seems that whatever silver compounds that remain in the toner end up combining with selenium as well and precipitating out. This is the black particulate matter that I filter out before use.

    So, I'll stick with replenishment till silver gelatin papers are no longer available. Then, I'll likely turn to carbon and platinum like you.

    Best,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  18. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,374
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    We have a instructor that claims when one can no longer smell the ammonia in the KST, then it is exhausted -- any truth to this?
     
  19. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Member

    Messages:
    1,368
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks for all the great feedback here. I really appreciate it.

    I have now done two printing sessions, using a single Ilford Rapid fix (fresh), soaking the prints in water for at least ten minutes (while I clean up the sink) and then straight into Ilford selenium 1:10. The prints are toning beautifully, and it's a definite speed boost to wash once rather than twice.

    Currently trying not to obsess over "hypo-clear" vs. "hypo-eliminator." :D
     
  20. K-G

    K-G Subscriber

    Messages:
    373
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Location:
    Goth, Sweden
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Do you measure the activity with test strips or do you use any other method for determining the selenium concentration in the working solution ? If you start off with , for example , 1:10 dilution the real concentration would quite soon be totaly unknown after some toning and replenishment.
    Normally I also use your method of printing and waiting to a later time for toning the best prints.

    Karl-Gustaf
     
  21. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

    Messages:
    1,322
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon and Austria
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Vaughn,

    My toner solution never smells like ammonia. Freshly mixed KRST has an ammonia smell, but this goes away long before the toner is exhausted. When I replenish my toners, there is a short time when the ammonia odor is present, but it goes away rather quickly.

    Often, I don't have to replenish at all. I've just today toned a batch of 48 prints (Adox Nuance, Emaks, Kentmere Bromide and Adox MCC) and my toner, which had not been used for months, worked just fine with no need for replenishing; and, never a trace of ammonia odor. I would state categorically that KRST does not have to smell like ammonia to be active and that the instructor you mention is in error and likely discarding lots of still-usable selenium, which is both uneconomical and environmentally irresponsible.

    Karl-Gustaf,

    I tone visually, i.e., I pull the print from the toner when the tone is pleasing and appropriate to the image. I no longer have any idea of the exact dilution of my toning solutions. I keep two solutions, one labeled "strong" and one labelled "weak" for different papers that require different strength dilutions to tone at comfortable times. (For instance, Adox papers tone very quickly, even in the weak solution while Kenmere and Oriental papers need longer times in the stronger solution.)

    I adjust the dilution of the toners to achieve comfortable toning times. If times are too long, I'll add toner; I usually add 50ml concentrate per liter to start with and add more if the times are still too slow. If, for some reason, times are too fast (less than a minute or so is a bit fast for me), I just add water to the toner till times are more manageable. My toning times are generally between 1.5 and 8 minutes, depending on the paper, toner strength and desired tone change.

    If I were just enhancing D-max, I'd use a very weak solution and pull the print when the tone just barely started to deviate from an untoned print. I'd shoot for a dilution that did this in 2-3 minutes. Mostly, however, I like a strong hint of brownish/purple and tone each image to a point where I like the image tone, meaning I use longer times or stronger dilutions or both. Everything is very subjective.

    Hope this explains things adequately.

    Best,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  22. K-G

    K-G Subscriber

    Messages:
    373
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Location:
    Goth, Sweden
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thank you , Doremus . Thats what I thought would be the case , to tone by inspection . Normally I just tone to make a slight increase in D-max but I use to stick a teststrip or two into the solution in order to see when the tone change occurs. I have noticed that ADOX MCC 110 comes up with a red-brown tone after some 5 - 7 minutes but the ADOX Fine Print Vario Classic can stay in solution for over 15 minutes without tone change. Perhaps you can see a very slight change to purple, but it is barely visible. I have used ADOX own selenium toner concentrate added to some old KRST ( 1:20 ) solution. Have you noticed any similar difference ?

    Karl-Gustaf
     
  23. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

    Messages:
    1,322
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon and Austria
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    As I mentioned above, different papers tone at different rates due to the differences in the composition of the emulsion. For me, 15 minutes would be an unacceptably long toning time. I use a stronger toning solution for papers like the Adox Vario Classic and a weaker solution for papers that tone more quickly.

    Best,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  24. K-G

    K-G Subscriber

    Messages:
    373
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Location:
    Goth, Sweden
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks again. I will try some different concentrations and see how it works.

    Karl-Gustaf