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  1. #1

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    Fixing after bleach and toning - what is the correct process?

    I do quite a lot of very dilute bleaching (1:100+) and toning using sepia and selenium. I mostly use Ilford Art 300, MG Fiber WT or MG FB. My typical process goes something like this:

    • Print
    • Develop, Stop, Fix, 10 min inse in archive washer, 10 min Hypo wash, 20 min Rinse in archive washer
    • Dry

    Then I take to toning and it goes something like this:

    • Soak prints in water
    • Bleach (very dilute e.g. 1:100)
    • Quick rinse in water tray
    • Sepia tone (very dilute e.g. 1:100)
    • Quick rinse in water tray
    • Selenium tone
    • 20 minute wash in archive washer

    I sometimes use carbon, sienna or blue toning.

    Does this toning process require any fixing or are my prints sufficiently stable?

  2. #2
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    When you tone your prints, for example when you use selenium toner, you turn the silver into silver selenide, (you transform silver from one state to another, and that in itself makes the print more stable. Blue toner is an exception and is not considered archival treatment).

    When you fix your prints, you remove undeveloped silver halide components from the print surface.

    After toning there are not more silver halide components to remove from the print, thus fixing after toning is completely unnecessary.

    -

    Edit: I should add that if you do indirect toning, and bleach before you tone, however much you bleach back the print, you must 're-develop' the print in your toner to completion. The bleach does indeed return the silver to a halide form, and you don't want to leave any of those undeveloped, because they are not stable.
    Last edited by Thomas Bertilsson; 06-05-2013 at 09:20 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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  3. #3
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    It looks like you are doing everything correct , I suspect you get a very slight tone in the highlights and cooler blacks which is one of my favourite toning looks.

  4. #4

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    Thank you for the replies. Yes, I get a beautiful warmth in the highlights, I literally drag my prints through the sepia as it works very quickly after bleaching and then I give them a couple of minutes in selenium. So far it's a look that I love and works for me.

    Here is an example of the toning effect I get from my process.

  5. #5
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    Looks like Art 300, you are getting quite a bit of warmth with the bleach dilution, how long do you bleach for?

  6. #6

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    The bleaching takes quite a while, probably about 2-3 minutes or until I see the highlights coming out, then I snatch it out and put it into a tray of fresh water to rinse it. At this stage it seems to be very sensitive to sepia toning (I use Moersch sepia tone) and I literally drag it through. The print does not get more than 5 seconds in sepia as it acts very very quickly.

  7. #7
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Funny how different people work

    I use a bleach formula that is very strong by comparison, and I try to be in the bleach no more than 40 seconds, sometimes I just dip it in the bleach for 5-10 seconds to get a hint of sepia in the high regions.

    I have found that having running water and a aluminum sheet on a tray to immediately wash off the bleach is very handy.

    One thing I learned from Bill Schawb is to build up the tone by bleaching, washing, tone, then re bleaching / toning until I get the desired tone I am looking for.
    This allows more control of the colour and actually not a pain by adding more time as it is a very fast sequence.

    I am doing a series of prints for a personal show in California right now where I need to bleach the print to lift the highlights , then fix , hypo clear wash as normal.
    then do a quad tone sequence.
    This allows me to bleach lightly to get tone in highlight only, then gold tone for the upper mid-tones, selenium for the shadows and then horror of horrors add a blue tone that seems to want to attach itself to the lower mid-tones. I do this on Ilford Matt paper which really likes toning and the effect if I do it correctly is beautiful.

    Since Solarizations try to move everything to middle grey other than the maki lines, I have found that my toning sequence needs to be more sophisticated than any other print process I tone for. I feel that I am getting a handle on it now after quite a few prints. FWIW - this is one of the most rewarding parts of wet darkroom work, the ability to control the final look and create an intense emotion out of silver paper.



    Quote Originally Posted by Ghostman View Post
    The bleaching takes quite a while, probably about 2-3 minutes or until I see the highlights coming out, then I snatch it out and put it into a tray of fresh water to rinse it. At this stage it seems to be very sensitive to sepia toning (I use Moersch sepia tone) and I literally drag it through. The print does not get more than 5 seconds in sepia as it acts very very quickly.

  8. #8

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    Hi Bob,

    Thank you very much for your input, your examples are wonderful. It is funny how different people work. Much like food and cooking, we develop a relationship with the materials and 'get inside' how they work and think, or feel.

    I have made a few prints where I used a bleach, sepia, blue tone sequence, which i love. I used my usual dilution for bleach and sepia to warm the high and mid tones. The blue seemed to hit the mid to dark tones which is exactly what I was after.

    This was on Agfa MC 118 FB

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Ghostman; 06-05-2013 at 04:08 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #9

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    I have a question for you pros:

    I have a bunch on fogged papers that I want to print normally (print, develop, stop, Fix). After the fix, can I Bleach them to save it from the slight fog? And do I simply wash it after the bleach or do I have to re-fix it? I'm only looking to give it an edgy look and clear the fog a little bit...

    Thanks!!

  10. #10
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    re fix if you only bleach, then wash.
    If you add toner then just wash.

    If you do not your print will be comprimised

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