Sorry to hear about the rc print deterioration...
Given the ilford decision announced today - no cooltone developer - it is probable they cannot make cooltone fiber work financially. Thats a shame but i really respect the company and they know what they are doing.
For all intents and purposes classical cold tone is dead in the darkroom. Thats pretty sad - i love the look and i like working in a darkroom. But i can still achieve what i want - digitally - lightroom, epson pigments, abw mode, baryta paper. And you get archival as part of the process. So thats where this story most likely ends.
It is what it is
Wrong, absolutely wrong. I already gave one answer. Kentmere Fineprint VCFB. Best kept secret around. Not Kentmere graded Bromide, which is nowhere near as rich, though it is cold. Fineprint is a fast emulsion apparently with some silver iodide in it. In conventional MQ developers or cold tone tweaks it will have a slightly chestnut brown coolish tone - but not a neutral black. If you want it truly gold you do amidol and then DMax it with GP1, plus optionally selenium too. Now to dispose of another myth - gold toning and amidol aren't expensive to use - a little goes
a long ways. You don't need very much per printing session. And mixing your own formulas from scratch is pretty easy.
I think this may be part of your problem.
Originally Posted by hansformat
Ilford Galerie is still around too, though not stocked many places.
Points taken. If you are willing to go to comparatively extreme solutions - printing only on one grade, gold toning, amidol, mixing your own chemistry, then you can get there. Fair enough. If those types of solutions are beyond your means or time and what you want is to flexibly work in the darkroom in standard ways at average costs well then i dont really think i'm exagerating to say it is dead.
For those of you who persevere in spite of these challenges i respectfully commend you. But it is a bridge too far for me and i would humbly submit most
Once again thanks everyone for your thoughts
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Name me one decent cold tone paper that wasn't expensive in its era. Did you read what I stated: VCFB (variable-contrast) Kentmere Fineprint. There's nothing extreme about any of this. It's more complicated in the kitchen helping my wife make cookie batter. Amidol is extremely easy to brew, and yeah, it's about 50 bucks for a hundred grams, and 1% gold chloride is around 75 bucks for 100 ml - but for me that's enough for about a year of making large prints! These chemicals are very effective, so you need quite little per session. Gosh - compared to what mere students will pay these days for raw inkjet paper with nothing on it except sizing - no silver, no gelatin - I don't see how anyone can complain. If you want cheap then use Ilford MGIV RC in any number of the published cold-tone formulas around. Seems like
you've decided the game is lost before you even got to a chance to bat. But if you must have a premeasured paper developer, just go to
some outfiit like Photographer's Formulary. They've got a decent premixed substitute for amidol, but true amidol is actually cheaper if you
mix it yourself.
I'd also like to know specifically which of the old papers OP considered naturally "cold" in the blue-black sense. Because it seems to me there were never many.
A paper that did the cold slightly bluish black was Forte Polygrade with Edwal Ultra black. It was fantastic. Only challenge was it went nuts in selenium - at 1:10 or 1:20 went purple in 1 minute or less. Ended up diluting 1:30 or 1:40 and very little image change (probably not much archival protection either). That paper was my favorite - toned or untoned.
The expense i refer to is not the paper...but the gold tone and the amidol and the time of mixing and dealing with those. They seem to me to be for folks who can commit more than i can. Gold toner from fotospeed is $130 for 50 8x10s. Thats a pretty big commitment. Plus not easy to work with (high temp required).
I am not ruling any of this out. It is just a stretch for me in several ways and i think probably a stretch for most.
All is not lost in the darkroom - the Adox 110 is great and with Moersch blue black dev i get a nice neutralish tone. The paper is great. For some imagea i like warm and of course thats no problem - adox again or Ilford or even others. Great choices.
It is just a shame that cold is such a challenge. The one i enjoy the most is the challenge! But i'll live.
Another solution is buried deep in this thread on MGWT:
Specifically starting about here:
Sal mentions using Moersch SE6 to get a neutral results with this paper, and a cool result with less dilute developer. I plan to try this - it may be as simple as starting with this warm, but very responsive to toners, paper and using the right developer.
Thanks for pointing out this thread. It may very well be worth a shot. I've been using the Adox 110/Mcc with the SE6; would be simple to try the Ilford MGWT with it.