Toning to completion: how long?
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 -
I do stepwedge test and read of a densitometer for selenium. Cause Dmax falls when it shifts to brown.
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?
Last edited by litody; 11-11-2012 at 09:22 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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.
In other worlds he has
darker days, blacker swells.
Strokes that mix noir revenge
on waves of grey.
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.
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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...(:
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.
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...
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.
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).
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?