Life of Gold Toner
I like to use gold toning on my salt prints but due to the huge hike in the cost of the toner it is now only very rarely used. My question concerns the life of the toner.
Now, I know that it is suggested that a litre of commercial toner tones only perhaps 10 -10x8 prints. Again I know that it depends on the density of the print which has an effect on the life of the toner.
BUT - lets take it that 1 litre will tone 10 - 10x8 prints. If those images are printed on, say, 11x14 fibre paper, would you still get 10 prints toned or less because the paper is larger.
My question, then, is this. When I tone my salts on thick art paper and say a 5x7 neg on 10x8 paper would the toner be used JUST for the 5x7 image or would the toner (and therefore the gold in it)be used (soaked up or whatever) by the whole 10x8 paper? And would I still get only 10 - 10x8 pieces of paper with 5x7 images or get more because the image itself which is being toned is smaller? Does the gold in the toner magically get attracted to the silver only or is it unreasonably stupid and get lost amongst all the substrate?
The area of a 5x7 image is slightly less than half that of a 10x8 image. All things being equal you should be able to tone approx 20 of these to the litre. However, as gold toner starts toning in the shadows and progresses to the highlights low key images tend to exhaust the toner faster. If your image is a balance if shadow, mid and highlight tones then it will depend on the effect you want. If you want to cool the image by toning mainly the shadows then you will get more prints to the litre. If you are toning to completion then, obviously the toner will exhaust quicker. I am sure that there is some absorption into the paper but am not entirely convinced that this makes a significant contribution to the exhaustion as compared to the toning action itself. As I have never done any alternative processes I can't comment on the effect of using an untreated art paper.
I hope this helps.
Just speculation on my part and not really relevant if Adrian is right and it sounds as if he is but given the cost of gold toner nowadays it might pay you to use Fotomask on the non-print areas. It prevents toner penetrating the non-print area.
I have no idea how far Fotomask goes in terms of coverage v volume used. You'd need to check this out before being able to balance this cost against any saving on gold toner
In actual use gold toner isn't that expensive. I mix my own from 1% gold chloride, and then the working solution per session. Seven bucks worth is sufficient to tone about ten 20x24 conventional silver prints. You can save money using it more dilute only longer. I don't know about salt prints
specifically, but I'll bet the typical instructions for use of gold toner waste a heck of a lot of it unnecessarily. It's attracted to the silver, and doesn't take all that much.
Going on from Drew's post I have done some costings and found it is cheaper for me to import Gold Chloride from the US and make my one rather than buy it ready made in the UK. There are some very easy to make and use formulae available.
It's a lot cheaper to make your own.
Gold toner can go off quite quickly.
What Drew said is good advice.
The shelf life of gold toner is indefinite, so you can store the solution between sessions. But the solution is depleted by the toning process, and it slows down as it becomes depleted. The capacity depends on how deeply you tone, the area of the prints, and the average density of the prints. You should be able to get about 30 5X7 prints per liter from most solutions. Most gold toners can be replenished to keep the activity consistent.
I think gold toners ability to last might be determined by the formula, as there many out there, as well as whether it is stock or working strength.
Tetenal gold toner (used undiluted) actually lasts quite a long time especially if, like me, you use it to cool the image rather than complete colour change. Unfortunately it is now $100 per litre in the UK at the moment.
I just made some gold chloride, I now have 3 liters of 10%. It should last me the rest of my life. (even with those huge salt prints)