Selenium toning question

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by mr rusty, Jan 18, 2014.

  1. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Sometimes when I tone I get some slight staining on the white edge of the print - FB paper. The consensus seems to be that it isn't necessary to do a full wash between fixer and toner, and I usually only wash for 2-5 minutes in my paterson washer before toning and then do the full wash.

    Q. is it conceivable that with fixer becoming used, the residual silver in the used fixer is enough to cause staining if not washed out completely when toned?

    I really need to experiment with new/used fixer and see if this is a factor. Or maybe i should just do a full wash before I tone.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Either do a full wash, or go straight from the fixer to the toner.

    Jon
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Yes. Used fixer leaves semi-soluble silver/thiiosuphate complexes these can cause staining. Use two bath fixing it's actually more economic.

    Washing itself is not enough when the silver level rises too high in the fixer, this is why the second fixer bath works better as it has a very low level of silver.

    Ian
     
  4. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Thanks Ian, that's a strong and simple case for two-bath fixing.
     
  5. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I am a little puzzled. Why is a half wash( if we can call anything less than a full wash) worse than no wash which is what fixer to toner means?

    I'd have thought that while a half wash isn't as good as a full wash it does go someway to do what a full wash does.

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  6. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    It's not about fresh or used fixer. My printing method involves 6 liters of freshly mixed Ilford Rapid Fixer 1:4 in which I fix from 10 to 16 20x24 FB prints within the hour and then discard on the spot. I expose all my prints and stack them in a box until I get 10 to 16. I then proceed to develop them one by one, and then fix them one by one. The fixer is always super fresh.

    I've had this staining issue quite regularly. And often on the very first prints, which were obviously fixed in the freshest possible fixer. FB or RC, all the same.

    Some papers were washed for 5 minutes, some others for 30 minutes. Regardless. I really don't know how to fix this. So far, I realized I had to dip my prints slowly in the selenium. And wash them an extra bit before throwing them into the selenium. But it's never guaranteed. Thank God, the stains are always on the edges, never inside the print!
     
  7. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I'd guess Jon Shiu means that going straight from "second" fixer to toner is going to contaminate the toner, so you would treat the partly used toner differently than toner that always receives fully washed prints.

    But I'd gather from what Ian Grant says, going from "used single bath" fixer to toner, is a bad idea with or without washing.

    Now I wonder what problems might occur using a "fresh single bath" fixer, washing fully and then toning.
     
  8. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    Ive had this staining even with fully washed prints.
     
  9. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Sounds like what I do, but you work on a larger scale... I do a max of 4 11x14 FB prints in a session... One small stain I suspected of being literally rust, so I cleaned and oiled the safelight which sits above the sink, suspecting it literally might have been crumbles of rust from the safelight.
     
  10. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    I also dont quite get this two-fix-bath method.

    On one side, manufacturers warn against any extra time in the fixer since it's very bad. Especially if the fixer is getting exhausted. Hard to wash, they say.
    And then on the other side, a two-bath method involving a fresh and an exhausted bath and an extra bath time is seen as good?

    I understand the idea behind the two bath method but Im not doing this. Theres no way I'll let my fb prints sit extra time in the fixer. A freshly mixed solution involving a low amount of prints is the best way to go, IMO.
     
  11. clayne

    clayne Member

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    And that freshly mixed solution becomes unfresh very quickly. A second bath is capable of reliably removing the residuals the now-unfresh is less capable of removing.

    Second bath fixing should be a given in all cases IMO.
     
  12. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    If it's that quick, then I guess we need a 4-bath system.

    The whole point of the 2-bath method is to reuse the fresh bath as the second-bath during another session. In my case, there's no reusing at all.
    Hypo tests agree with me so I'm comfy with my extrafresh one bath.
     
  13. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Well that's not really the entire point. Think of both baths as doing different jobs to a certain extent.
     
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  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I think you have it reversed, and are approaching the "duration" question awkwardly.

    The fresh bath is the second bath - you switch it to the first bath position after the first bath is exhausted.

    And the duration in each bath is intended to be 1/2 the recommended time for a single bath - so the total time isn't any longer than when using a single bath.
     
  16. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Well, I always fully wash and Permawash my prints and normally don't tone until drying and selecting which ones to tone. But it was common practice in the old days to go straight from the fix to the toner in order to not to have stains. I should add, with the fixer straight to toner method you need to agitate continuously. If you have any older photo ref. books like Morgan and Morgan, you could look it up.

    Jon
     
  17. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    NB23,

    As MattKing points out, 2nd bath is fresh.. and becomes 1st bath next time. I'm with you, I mix fresh each session, but I am aware 2 bath fixing is archival standard practice. I know I am deviating from standard procedure by using a one-bath fix. I also thought I could get away with it because I mix fresh each session and the fix only handles a few prints period. But if it's the cause of stains, then I may reconsider my process.

    I hope you have room for the additional tray... If I tried 16x20 I'd only have room for three trays, since I do 11x14 I have room for 4
     
  18. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Without going into a full on thing (there's a million other threads), the reason two-bath fixing is a good idea is that the *second* fixer is incredibly efficient in removing silver complexes the first bath missed *without* significant degradation to itself. This ensures that (to a limit driven level) all silver complexes which could cause an issue down the line were successfully removed, regardless of how much the 1st bath was used that session (or over n sessions depending on what capacity one utilizes).

    You do not need an extra tray at all.

    1. Develop.
    2. Stop.
    3. Fix(1).
    4. Holding bath (I use the print washer).

    (repeat over and over for the entire session or until all printing done)

    5. Pour fix(1) back into fix(1) container.
    6. Pour fix(2) into same tray fix(1) occupied.
    7. Fix holding bath prints in fix(2).
    8. Hold again (if selenium toning) and/or just chuck right into the print washer.

    (if not toning, then you're done)

    9. Selenium tone 1+10, 1+20, whatever.
    10. Chuck right into the print washer.

    The secret, atleast IMO, to making 2nd bath fixing not a big deal or time sink is to do it in *batches* and not as a part of each print made. Fix(1) and holding bath are perfectly fine until the prints hit fix(2) nothing significant is happening to the prints during this time and they don't end up being toned until after fix(2). Additionally, if not toning, 2-bath fixing still happens - which is always beneficial.
     
  19. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    10 to 16 20"x24" is a very significant number of prints it's equivalent to 60 to 96 10x8 prints, and while Ilford state that the capacity is around 40 10x8's a litre they also recommend two bath fixing for archival purposes.

    Another factor can be over fixing because that allows more time for the semi-soluble silver/thiosulphate complexes to penetrate the Fibre base where they bond with the cellulose fibres. The fixing process involves the silver halide being dissolved via a series of equilibrium reactions and once the silver level rises in the fixer some of these don't go to completion leaving residual silver/thiosulphate complexes in the paper. This is why Ilford recommend short fixing times.

    It's also worth noting that extended fixing (in Rapid fixers) causes image bleaching particularly with warm tone papers (which have a finer grain emulsion), this also drops the warmth of the paper slightly.

    So it's all about using fixer effectively, I'd split your 6 litres into two baths, that way you eliminate your staining and keep bath two for the first bath of your next printing session reducing your fixer usage.

    Ian
     
  20. miha

    miha Member

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  21. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    There are a couple of issues in your posts and the responses to them to address here:

    First is the issue of two-bath fixing. Yes, you can use just one bath, but if you are halfway interested in getting the residual silver level in your prints as low as possible, then the capacity of a single bath is VERY small. Ilford says 10 8x10 prints per liter. With your six liters of fix, you'd better stick to just 10 20x24-inch prints if you are using just a single bath (since a 20x24= six 8x10s).

    Even then, the last couple prints through the bath will have significantly more residual silver than the first ones. The fixer does not get rid of the silver in the print, it just converts it to a soluble form. The reactions are complex, but suffice it to say that as silver builds up in the fixing bath, its ability to convert silver to a water-soluble form diminishes rapidly; used fixer can only do a part of this job. A second bath stays very fresh as long as the capacity of the first is not exceeded, and finishes off this job splendidly. You could use two six-liter baths and get 40 20x24s through them before having to discard the first bath and replace it with the second... I think single bath fixing is not only inefficient, but also a waste of money and good chemistry.

    Let's discuss the Ilford archival sequence a bit. Ilford's "short time in strong fixer" approach is based on a strategy of preventing fixer to fully permeate the fiber paper base. This requires the fix to be strong to do its job before it has a chance to soak through to the paper base. This latter takes about 60-90 seconds. If you do soak the paper completely, then you have to use a wash aid and wash longer to compensate. Since there are many who find the Ilford method questionable, and since results may be different with other papers than Ilford's, and since timing is, for me at least, a bit too critical for my work flow, I have decided to use my fixer 1+9, two-bath and use longer times (1.5-2 minutes in each bath) and the subsequent longer wash. I find this a much more economical use of fixer and my prints pass both residual silver and residual hypo tests with flying colors.

    Now, on to staining in the toner. Two things generally cause staining: insufficient fixing or the prints being transferred from a too-acid environment into the toner.

    Your 16th 20x24 through six liters of Rapid Fix at one minute or less is likely not fixed adequately enough to be toned without staining. Again, I'll advocate for two-bath fixing... but enough! Just stick to the 10 8x10s/liter capacity and you should have no problems with inadequate fixing.

    Ilford Rapid Fix or Hypam 1+4 are too acid to transfer the print directly from the fixer to the toner without staining. I use the same fixer 1+9 and have no problems transferring directly from the fix to the toner. Others use an alkaline fixer or plain hypo for the second bath to accomplish the same thing, i.e., keeping the prints from being to acid when transferred to the toner.

    If you use an acid fix, like you are, then you need to wash your prints fully before toning. The problem with an incomplete wash is that the wash doesn't act evenly over the print; there are areas that are more and less washed until "complete" washing is reached. A rather short wash may leave areas with lots of undissolved-out thiosulfate compounds in them. The toner will react differently in these areas than in the washed areas and the toning may be blotchy and uneven.

    Staining in the toner can also be a result of manufacturing defects in the paper you are using. There was a thread on edge staining on some brands of paper in selenium toner here a while back. The more I look at your particular situation, the more I lean toward this answer. Print one through your fixer washed for 30 minutes should not stain... unless there is something wrong with the paper itself. What paper are you using?

    One more thing can cause staining. Physical damage to the print can cause chemical changes and possible staining in the toner. Since your staining seems to be on the edges, maybe there is a problem either in the manufacturing (cutting the paper down to size) or in your handling of the paper when processing. Test with an undeveloped but fixed sheet, very carefully handled (or portion of a sheet with 20x24!) to see if it stains in the toner. If so, it is likely a manufacturing defect.

    Best,

    Doremus
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 19, 2014
  22. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    If you are getting staining despite giving adequate fixing then you simply need to give a quick wash and then transfer your prints to a plain hypo bath for three minutes. You then take the prints straight from the plain hypo to the Selenium toner. Why does this work every time? - because Selenium toner contains plain hypo so, by soaking in plain hypo prior to Selenium toning, you are 'acclimatising' the prints to the PH of the Selenium toner. For extra safety, mix your plain hypo and Selenium toner using distilled water.

    Incidentally, the presence of plain hypo in Selenium toner is one of the reasons why Ansel Adams' recommendation of mixing wash aid with the Selenium toner is wrong. The other reason is that Selenium toner has a far higher capacity than the wash aid.

    Bests,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  23. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Thanks all. There is lots of good info here and I think taken together I know what I need to do. Going forward I will modify my technique and in due course report back.

    Cheers

    Simon
     
  24. miha

    miha Member

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    Two questions arose:

    1. 50 years (and more) ago, everything was fixed in a non-rapid sodium thiosulphate fixer, books say for at leat 10 minutes, but many said the longer the better, single bath only, yet many, many prints are just fine today.

    2. can't a fixer be formulated in such a way that the so-called insoluble complexes wouldn't form at all?
     
  25. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    Another issue to check is if your stop bath isn't too concentrated and too acidic. While everyone on this thread pointed out that staining usually occurs when there is residual silver halide (fixing too short) or residual argentothiosulfates (exhausted fixer), another reason for staining is too much acid in the paper. If you leave your stop bath overnight in a tray and it overconcentrates this may happen. Having said that, exhausted fixer is a more likely reason.

    There are a lot of other threads on APUG about the merits or not of two-bath fixing, it is well worth browsing those. In my opinion, also debated on those threads, the gist is that if you want good leeway, 2-bath fixing is great, but if you are a fairly careful worker it is not necessary or as economical as it may seem.
     
  26. miha

    miha Member

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    Grant Haist advocated that only obout five 8x10 sheets can be fixed to archival standards in one gallon of fixer. The number can be extended to 40 when two bath are used.