Weird reaction to selenium toner

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by HMFriedman, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. HMFriedman

    HMFriedman Member

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    So, this is the third time in maybe 15 years of printing that this has happened to me. I'd like it to be the last, so I'm seeking suggestions.

    My B&W prints, including the unexposed border, stain an extreme reddish brown after 1-2 minutes in dilute (1+19) selenium toner. My workflow is as follows: develop in Ethol LPD, followed by acetic acid stop bath, then 3 minute fix in Sprint non-hardening fixer. I then hold the prints in a large water bath until the end of my printing session, changing the bath occasionally. I then use fresh fixer for an additional 3 minutes and place the prints into the 1+19 Selenium direct from the fixer. I believe I got this from A.A.'s "The Print".

    I am careful to wash my trays, sink, etc with dish soap and hot water after each use. I typically wash my developer and st op trays while the prints are in the holding bath, but re-use the fixer traywith fresh chemistry. I suppose there is some minor opportunity for soapy spray to land in the holding bath, but I do try to be careful, and have been using the same workflow for years usually without problems.

    Any ideas as to what is causing this staining with dilute selenium?

    Thanks for looking.
     
  2. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Inadequate fixing?
     
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Bad fixing or washing or both.

    PE
     
  4. mfohl

    mfohl Subscriber

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    I always thoroughly wash my prints before selenium toning. My standard wash is a minute or two in running water, then 2 minutes in Kodak hypo clearing agent, then the real wash. The real wash is in my Paterson print washer for 15 minutes in running water, followed by several hours just sitting in the washer followed by 15 more minutes in running water. I mean, my prints are thoroughly washed before toning. And by the way, I repeat the washing in the print washer after selenium toning. I get occasional reddish stains on the surface of the plastic print washer, but not on the prints.
     
  5. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    I do the same - although I don't get any red staining on the actual washer. Sounds like there is a reaction between the 2nd fixer (no washing) and the toner. Why not give it a last final wash, after the 2nd fix, before toning and see how that works out for you?
     
  6. Doc W

    Doc W Subscriber

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    I also wash my prints really well before toning.
     
  7. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Fixer is toast or under fixing.

    You do not need fully to wash prints before selenium toning after fixer you just need to make sure they're fully fixed. A short rinse is all that is needed.

    I do it all the time with 2 stage fixing. Short rinse in a holding bath and then right into KRST. Never stained.

    Full wash is then after selenium.
     
  8. michael stevens

    michael stevens Member

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    I had a similar problem a little while ago and ruled out exhausted fix being the problem by mixing up a fresh batch. In my case the cause turned out to be toning in too acid an environment: the acid from the fixer was being carried over into the selenium bath and causing the stain. An alkali fix would not give this problem. I now give the prints a more thorough wash before toning and use a little HCA to lower the acidity in my water holding tray.

    If I were you I would try giving your prints a good rinse before putting them in the toner, or missing out that final fix bath all together.
     
  9. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    Your problem is due to not washing between rapid fix and toning. The wash does not need to be extensive - 3 changes of water in a dish over a 5 minute period will be sufficient to give you a reasonably neutral PH.

    Not quite correct - Ansel Adams used to place the print in a bath of plain hypo before toning not rapid fix. Using 3 minutes in a plain hypo bath before toning is the most dependable way of ensuring you never get staining. However, a reasonable wash between a rapid fixer and the selenium toner will also work well.

    Bests,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  10. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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  11. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    Yes, I sometimes get stains on the border of my prints (usually one stain as large as my thumb). I let my prints sit for about 15 minutes in running water before toning them.
    My explanation to this is that the prints weren't washed/rinsed well enough before going into the Toner. Seems like it's a reaction of the fixer residue and the Selenium.
    It really frustrates me but I figure that the print's border can be cut out if the print is going to be sold or framed. I spend so much time printing that I can't be bothered washing prints hours before toning and then more hours in the final wash. I live with the occasional stained print (edge).
     
  12. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Member

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    Yes. My experience exactly. A 2% sodium sulfite bath, followed by a short water rinse, followed by the selenium toning did the trick for me.

    Ken
     
  13. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Guys KRST contains up to 30% ammonium thiosulfate and 15% sodium sulfite. In a lot of cases this is not simply "fixer residue" resulting in staining when selenium toner HAS rapid fixer in it.

    I'm not saying pH issues might not be involved but it you're getting border staining with selenium seriously check your fix baths or the time you're fixing for.

    I literally rinse a fully fixed (2-stage) print shortly and put it into selenium toner. We cannot ignore the fact that the ammonium thiosulfate fixer I'm pulling the print out of is going into a toner that is 30% ammonium thiosulfate. Any residual fixer there is not going to start trashing prints. Think about it.
     
  14. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Clayne, just like H2S, H2Se can cause formation of "toned' silver image. Poor fixation leaves some AgX or Hypo complexes that can react with the Selenium to form stains.

    IDK if this happened here, but I raise it as a possibility.

    PE
     
  15. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    I strictly use FRESHLY mixed Rapid fixer 1:4 for my prints and dump it afterwards. I use 6 liters of Mixed Rapid Fixer for 10 to 12 20x24 prints and I fix for 2 minutes. Sometimes 1:15 because Ilford literature recommends 1 minute. I go up to 2 minutes to stay on the safe side but then the washing is jeopardized. I may be wrong, though.

    I use 5 liters of freshly mixed Rapid Fixer (1:4) and fix about 20 16x20 FB prints or 20 11x14 prints. I never reuse fixer.

    I really doubt that my prints are poorly fixed...
     
  16. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    I too wash after fixing, also add a teaspoon of Kodalk (Kodak balanced alkalai) to a gallon of selenium (also 1:19), and use an alkalai fixer. I have never seen stain.
     
  17. michael stevens

    michael stevens Member

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    This was my initial reaction too. If the toner contains fixer as well then what's the point in washing it out first? But I think you're right about the pH being the key. When I experienced the problem I was advised on another forum by Tim Rudman who said:

    As I say, the problem disappeared as soon as I started rinsing more thoroughly before toning so my problem was the latter rather than the former cause.
     
  18. Karl A

    Karl A Member

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    Hi Guys, when I started printing I had issues with prints yellowing when going from rapid fixer to toner, and so now I make sure they have gone through hypo clear and wash first. Then final wash after going through the toner. Often I do the toning the next day, so with the dry prints I soak in plain water for a few minutes to get soft again, then they go into the toner. I've never had an issue since I started doing this.

    To my understanding, Ansel Adam used to use a traditional sodium thiosulfate fixer (never a rapid fixer), and then he put it into a mixture of hypo clearing agent and selenium toner, followed by washing. I don't think this is a procedure that is recommended these days, but it probably works ok.
     
  19. HMFriedman

    HMFriedman Member

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    Thanks to all respondents. I have made some changes to my fixing routine by adding a bath in fresh hypo (instead of fresh rapid fix) immediately before toning. So far, so good, although this problem is so sporadic that I might have to wait a long time to see if it happens again.
    In the meanwhile, I'll throw this out there: the 'staining' I'm noticing might better be described as a hyper-reaction to the toner. The entire paper - including the white border - surface turns a uniform very strong reddish brown within 1-2 minutes in 1+19 KRST, whereas I usually see only minimal color shift after 5 minutes and none of course on the borders. There may or not be any localized blotching. I originally called it staining vs toning because of the color change in the white margins.
     
  20. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    There are two ways to selenium tone, thorough archival wash , tone, rewash, or go directly from fix to quick rinse to tone , then archival wash. Both work as I have done both ways.

    You get stains if trace amounts of fix are left.

    Concentrated selenium may create redish tone or perhaps you are using toner left from a previous session.