Toning to completion: how long?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Carina, Nov 11, 2012.

  1. Carina

    Carina Member

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    Hello everyone.

    I've read lots of recommendations regarding the toning in selenium or gold that say that in order to achieve archival permanence it is necessary to "tone to completion". Since I'm mostly interested in image permanence and do not want too much color shift, I've bought a bottle of Tetenal Gold toner. How do I make sure that the toning has been taken to completion? The color shifts slightly rather quickly, and then how long should I keep the prints in toner? Does this time increase as the toner gets exhausted?
    I use Ilford MGIV FB.

    Any input would be much appreciated. Thanks a lot!

    Best regards -

    Carina.
     
  2. DarkMagic

    DarkMagic Member

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    I do stepwedge test and read of a densitometer for selenium. Cause Dmax falls when it shifts to brown.
     
  3. litody

    litody Member

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    given that there are many many thousands of prints over 100 years old in great condition and not toned in selenium or gold I wonder why people get so hung up on archival permanence. Fact is the most likely causes of your prints going bad are the environmental conditions they are kept in providing you have applied good processing with proper wash. Partial toning will make them last for probably over 200 years if someone keeps them in constant humidity, constant temp and low lighting. But fact is people won't keep them in those conditions. They are likely to hang them on a wall above a radiator/heat source or somewhere in the house with wild swings in humidity and temperature which will vastly reduce their life. You are just making life difficult for yourself for no good reason by trying to tone to completion for permanence sake.
    Gursky c-print sold for 4 million euros. It will probably only last for 20 years before significant deterioration. What have you got to worry about?
     
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  4. EKDobbs

    EKDobbs Member

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    I agree. Unless you're printing copies for a museum, well fixed RC paper can easily last 50+ years in mediocre conditions. Unless there's an outside reason to want your prints to outlive your grandchildren, tone it until it looks like you want it to, even if that means not at all.
     
  5. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    Not sure about gold toner, but in selenium, i believe "completion" is when the the shift in density is to your liking, the permanence factor is there. I tone using a 1:10 ratio with selenium for about 5 min or so as I don't prefer much of a color shift, but rather a general deepening of the low tones. I think a stouter ratio will actually produce a more pronounced color shift toward a purplish color, but I've never gone stronger than 1:10, color shift is also dependent on the paper's emulsion.
     
  6. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    That is tricky with gold toner just for a very practical reason: it is insanely expensive to use gold as one shot. I use gold a fair amount to cool down lith prints. I tone until it looks right for my application. The good news is that if you see a color change and it stops changing, you've hit some sort of end point. I'd just tone until you don't see additional change and add 10 minutes or so. That should be close to the "true" endpoint. Although, I have to agree with the others...I think a well processed print will last at least a hundred years. My prints don't deserve to live that long...:smile:
     
  7. litody

    litody Member

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    I just checked and gold toners require little time for permanence. Gold toner coats the silver and this uses up the gold very quickly. Longer times will just make the coating thicker and exhaust the toner sooner. And make the colour change greater.

    selenium on the other hand actually reacts with the silver which takes longer. The good news is that even weak solution at 1+20 will make a siginficant increase to expected life but without colour change, just some deepening of the shadows. 5 to 10 mins should be plenty even though it won't be to completion. And its far more economical as the capacity is much greater than gold toner.

    So if you must tone for permanence with little if any colour change, then use selenium at 1+20. If you make it stronger you risk increased colour change.

    p.s. I've used selenium at varying strengths and found 1+20 to be effective for slight increase in dmax without colour change. I really don't like the aubergine colour it can cause from using stronger or extended times.
     
  8. Carina

    Carina Member

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    Thanks a lot for the answers! A lot of useful information. Good to know about the difference between selenium and gold toners (that increased time in gold toner makes the coating thicker and exhausts the toner...)
    I'll see how long the bottle of gold toner lasts and if it makes sense to switch back to selenium... But I really like the cool tone of the gold toner better...
     
  9. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    It's really easy to see the effect of selenium on a paper like MGWT. Just tone until the highlights have shifted to the magenta-brown color. I tone in selenium at 1:9 dilution and find MGWT tones to completion at about 15-20 minutes with this dilution. I have never toned anything in gold to "completion" but would assume it to be atleast 20 minutes.
     
  10. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I did some experiment not too long ago.

    Made a bunch of identical mini-prints. They are like 3.5x5 inch in size. Then tried different toning on each. From what I understand, toning to completion means there are no more silver left that are unconverted. That would mean, with selenium, all silver is converted to silver selenide. With this understanding, I took my paper and toned it for 1 minutes, 2 minutes, 4 minutes, 8 minutes, and 16 minutes. Obviously, there are significant color change at 8 and 16 minutes mark.

    I washed all these prints very VERY well.

    I then took these and toned it in brown toner. With peculiar property of brown toner, (thinner it is, faster it tones), many of them shifted from selenium color to brown very fast in wash water. I recall even 8 minute one shifted somewhat. 16 minutes one were basically unchanged - meaning it was toned to completion in selenium leaving nothing for brown toner to convert.

    You could do a similar experiment if you really want to find out.

    In my own process, I tone for color first, and permanence second. Little toning is better than no toning in term of longevity so even with partial toning, I am contributing to image permanence. Some toner attack dense area first where as some toner attack highlight area first. You also have an option of using two toners and protect both.

    I think we get caught up in archival thing a bit too much (myself included from time to time).
     
  11. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I think tkamiya's test was a good one.

    I recall the most archival toner is sulfide... but I don't want that look... I am happy to "contribute towards image permanence", without worrying about exactly how many centuries we're talking.

    But if you really want permanence, by all means do a test like tkamiya's - it will tell you how well you are doing.
     
  12. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Oh, by the way....

    There is a product called SISTAN that can be used to help permanence of the image. There was AG Stab which doesn't seem to be available anymore and Adostab that is basically a replacement, according to FreeStyle.

    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/12056-Adolux-Adostab-1L-Sistan-Print-Protection-Solution

    This is NOT a toner. It doesn't change color at all. With AG Stab, I didn't notice the darkening of the image in the item description. Use this as the last step after wash and squeegee off the excess and let dry. What I understand is that an active ingredient in these products protect the silver from degrading. I've used it few times.

    If image permanence is really an important concern, you may want to check into these as well. If you are printing something like a family portrait, it may be important that grand children can show their grand children what their parents looked like.
     
  13. Carina

    Carina Member

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    tkamiya, thanks for all the info. Sounds like a good idea to try and do that test!
     
  14. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    My understanding is that gold toner does inevitably alter look and in the U.K. 1L which might do 50 8x10 prints cost about $80!!!

    The real longevity toner is the brown sulphide one. Much cheaper than gold and probably better than selenium but it will change the colour of your print.

    Sistan doesn't change colour but by how much does it increase longevity?

    Key to all this in terms of cost to benefit is how long do you need the prints to last? So far it seems that properly processed and washed prints, even RC, have now lasted about 30 years and FB a lot longer

    pentaxuser
     
  15. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Toning to completion means full color shift. This will vary depending upon paper. If you do not want color shift, or as little as possible, then "permanence" may be compromised (however defined or desired). Toning to color shift in terms of timing, which may increase contrast and "sharpen" the image, is somewhat a matter of trial and error, depending on:

    1. paper type
    2. toner dilution
    3. degree of toner exhaustion
    I use selenium toner for minimal color shift. I normally do this with all prints at the end of the day. One needs to watch the first toned print for a color change, whereupon it is quickly withdrawn, taking note of the time. The rest (same paper) can be batched at the noted time. I have noticed, in my lab, that the time to color shift increases by approximately 30 seconds, each day as toner sits around and becomes both exhausted and/or oxidized. I toss it when toning times become too lengthy and then mix fresh (KRST –> 1:20).
     
  16. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Subscriber

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    20 years for a c-print ? you are very optimistic...
    :smile:
     
  17. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Subscriber

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    The safest way to have a print toned to completion is to split tone. Either in selenium & various sulfide or selenium & gold. That way you can get the color of your choice.
     
  18. CuS

    CuS Member

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    I agree - I only tone for color shift - just did some prints on Slavich Bromoportrait 80 - a lovely warmtone double-weight baryt fiber paper.

    My wife wanted them sepia to match a room decor (heck, I'll do anything to get my wife to hand more of my crud).

    I used KRST 1:9. I toned immediately after washing - strong color shift tosepia in aboyt 90 secs - completed teh color I wanted at 1:30.
     
  19. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    If you are concerned that much with permanence your question should be about washing, not toning. You could tone to your hearts content but if the print isn't washed appropriately it will go south.

    IMO toning should be done for the look it gives. The secondary effect of toning is longevity. If you wash the print appropriately, even without toning it, you will be long gone before any problems arise.
     
  20. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    It's hard to say, and it varies with the toner. As a rule, use the long end of the range recommended by the manufacturer. Many toners slow down but continue to tone for hours. That is overkill. Half again longer than when you stop seeing obvious changes is more than enough. With some gold toners, like GP-1, you may not see any changes at all. With those, use the manufacturer's recommendations as a guide. If you are toning multiple prints in the same bath, remember that toning slows down as the bath is used and becomes more exhausted. You need more time for the same results.
     
  21. Carina

    Carina Member

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    Thanks again for all the answers. It's been really helpful, and I'm glad that people are so willing to share their experience in this community.
     
  22. Carina

    Carina Member

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    Guillaume,
    how do you do the selenium+gold toning? First selenium, then a good wash (as recommended before toning in gold), and then gold? Is it necessary to re-fix after toning in gold?