Reducing fixing time was never recommended, but neither was extending it.
Not gods, yes, but they did know what they were talking about, and I trust that they knew what they were doing.
"Doug Nishimura cautions that partial toning or split-toning with selenium will leave the untoned portion of the print unprotected, as the selenium preferentially tones finer grains of silver in high-density areas of the print first. Untoned portions of the image may be subject to future deterioration.* This flies in the face of longstanding advice from Kodak which, as repeated by Ansel Adams and many others, said that selenium provides protection even in very high dilutions which do not cause color changes. Apparently at one time Kodak Selenium Toner may have contained “small amounts of highly active sulfiding agents” which provided protection that selenium alone cannot provide unless toning is carried to completion. At some point in the 1980’s manufacturing changes eliminated these agents. Doug Nishimura indicates (in a letter to Jennifer Scott) that complete protection with Kodak Selenium Toner requires a dilution of not more than 1:9, and a toning period of 3 to 5 minutes at 68º."
It's not only shorter fixing but also making the dillution stronger, so the effect is the same only it does not penetrate the whole paper.
I've read about that a couple of times now and my teacher advised the method so there has to be some truth in it.
He once had to send his prints to Kodak to let them test if it was archival worthy for the gallery who asked for a Kodak-certificate. He finally got his process right and that was partially due to the fact he fixed shorter but with an intenser dillution which made it easier to get rid of the fix in the paper.
Toning was considered an option when archival processing was discussed in the literature they provided.
They also recommended testing for residual fixer after the final wash, which I'm sure they did, extensively, until they had their process worked out.
It might interest you that I have in my possession fiber prints produced more than 120 years ago that show little deterioration, and I'm sure the methods used when they were produced were not so strict as today.
The so called experts of today must wait that long to prove their claims. I don't believe everything I read unless the person has a good track record of providing sound information, and I surely don't trust that all new products are better than what came before, regardless of what someone else believes. I know I sound like a cynic, but I have my reasons and I've been around for a long time - more than half a century.
120 yr old prints, that's old ! I was not trying to question your knowledge nor do I believe everything I read but it's hard to figure out what's real and what's bogus since everybody seems to have their own opinion on the same matter.
Thank you for your input. I will test for myself and figure out which method suits me best. If I outlive my prints I know I have succeeded :p
Well there's certainly a big difference between 10 mins washing time( Ilford) and 60 galls per hour. I have no idea what rate of flow the Ilford routine specifies but I doubt it to be a gallon a minute. 60 gallons per hour is an incredible use of water in time of diminishing resources. I checked my garden hose operating at a reasonable rate in the summer and that was less than a gallon a minute. I wonder how the water authorities in Australia would regard that kind of use in the drought conditions several APUGers there have mentioned.
In the UK we now have water meters. At this rate my water bill would probably outweigh my other materials cost! I had thought of giving FB a try but at 60 gallons an hour neither my wallet nor my conscience would stand it.
I recently started using FB paper and I use the recommendations found in John P. Schaefer's "Ansel Adams Guide Book 1: Basic Techniques of Photography" (1999 Revised Edition). On page 315 upon recommendations from Ilford's research:
3. fix (ammonium thiosulfate)-- I use TF-4
4. drain, place in a tray of running water for 2 minutes, then move to a holding tray of clean water for collection of all the prints for the session
5. set up three trays each containing a wash aid (I use Kodak's HCA); to the middle tray add selenium toner to make a 10% solution (100ml per liter)
6. place prints in first tray agitate continuously for 3 minutes, then transer to the tray with the toner
7. tone for the desired time with continuous agitation, then transfer to the third tray
8. agitate in the last tray of HCA for 5 minutes, then transfer to a tray of running water for a few minutes, then put in an archival washer
9. wash until a residual hypo test (HT-2) is negative
12. store in an archival storage box
So far, it works. I want to be able to say that my prints are archivally processed and for it to mean something to those who know. I figure if I follow this method and keep getting a negative HT-2 test at the end, then I'm being truthful with my claim.
Re your step 5 -
Adams advocated mixing selenium toner in hypoclear. That's fine as long as you dispose of the entire bath after each session. However, selenium doesn't deplete very rapidly and can be reused - but only if it is NOT mixed with hypoclear. There are some minor environmental concerns with disposal of undepleted selenium toner, so the current preferred practice is to mix selenium toner with plain water only so that it can be saved for reuse.
Alkaline swells the film gelatin coating and an acid stop contracts gelatin. Using an acid stop preserves an acid fix and was need when papers required hardening due to ferrotype drying techniques. The modern fix method is to use a neutral or alkaline fix like TF-4. A couple of Saint Ansel methods are out of date such as his fix and toning routine. Regarding washing, David Vestal discovered the amount of water is not critical. A surprizing small amount of water is required to diffuse hypo out of the paper. Follow Ilford's directions for processing. Be mindful of fixing around 10 to 12 8x10 prints per L unless using a two fix method.
The Film Developing Cookbook mentions that Sodium Thiosulfate is no longer recommended to fix contemporary photographic materials. Materials changed and we know more since Ansel authored his books.