(more on) Split toning
I made a print. I liked it. I sepia toned it (Legacy Pro). I liked it but didn't like the contrast anymore (too light). I made a dark, contrastier print. Bleached it the same as the first time, sepia toned it, but the densities did not return nearly as much as with the first print.
I have now rinsed, fixed and washed the print. I am wondering if I could now use a selenium toner to bring it back to its original density.
Would selenium toning darken the print at this point?
I've done a redevelopment stage, after toning, a few times. After the bleach/toner/wash, I had another tray of developer (Dektol, in this case). I redeveloped for about 1 minute. It may be worth exploring. Here's an example:
If you have fully bleached and then sepia toned the print to completion, re-bleaching doesn't have much to work with, and selenium toning has even less.
If you have only partially bleached and sepia toned the print, re-development and/or selenium toning may have an affect.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
(more on) Split toning
Selenium toning will do nothing as you've converted the silver to silver sulfide of which sodium selenite cannot convert to silver selenide. Go the other direction next time, selenium toning first, wash, and bleach+sepia or direct polysulfide. You can do sepia to selenium but you've got to give the selenium something to work with first. What Matt described with partial bleaching would be one way of doing that.
Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.
Not knowing exactly what your are trying for:
1) For complete bleaching and sepia toning, make the print (generally, and depending on the paper and sulfide/NaOH ratio you use) slightly flatter and denser. For fiber paper, 1/2 or 1 grade less contrast and don't compensate for drydown, this usually works.
2) If you want the harder shadows and sepia highlights, you really have to do a light selenium tone first to lock in the blacks, then bleach and sepia tone. Great look, but the process is quite a bit longer for fiber because of the hypoclear and wash after the selenium.
3) If you try partial bleaching, that is to say grabbing the print before it gets to the shadows, it still has affected the shadows. You will see this even if you finish with selenium.
And yes, if you bleach to comlpletion and sepia tone to completion the selenium will do nothing. Playing around with full bleach and partial sepia redevelopment followed by selenium results in varying degrees of rusty red-brown.
In any event, density is always lost with bleaching.
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Originally Posted by Rich Ullsmith
This is exactly what I needed to know. Thanks, Rich and everyone else.