Ilford CoolTone Fiber Further Observations
I took the prints (5 images plus all the tests) out from between the 2 books and weights for flattening and spent a 1/2 hour comparing vs. other fiber prints on other papers I have printed in the past. I thought the observations might be useful so here they are.
The blacks are really nice. The only ones that are in the same league (perhaps equal) are those of Forte Polygrade V also developed with Edwal Ultra Black. Both of these have that deep black hole kind of black.
The Ilford Cooltone is the best. The highlights have excellent brilliance. Very different from MG IV in my experience. The Forte were good, but I prefer the Ilford Cooltone on the highlights. Really is exceptional.
The ILford CT is cooler than MGIV (developed with either Edwal or Multigrade), Adox 110 developed with Moersch SE6 (with or without finisher blue), and seems to be about as cool as the Slavich cool tone printed with Edwal. It is NOT as cool as the Forte printed with Edwal. The Blacks and Whites are similar, but the grays on the Forte take on a slight bluish cool cast. I just love the tone of the Forte best. The Ilford CT is 2nd best. The Slavich prints seem a bit dull in comparison to the Forte, Ilford CT, and Adox. The Adox 110 with Moersch is neutralish and really nice...not as cool as CT but very nice nonetheless. I will keep using that paper, but I'll use it now with a warmtone developer and use Ilford CT for cooltone.
The CT is sharp, certainly as sharp as any of the others, perhaps slightly sharper than some. I have a Dichro enlarger and I don't think that is the best platform to make this distinction because it puts smoothness over sharpness.
The Ilford CT is very slightly glossier than the others. It is a really nice surface. It maintains all the "fiber wave" depth that I really like. It looks nothing at all like an RC paper. All told I liked this surface the best of the papers, but I love the others as well. Never met a Fiber Glossy I didn't like.
If there is dry down on the CT it is very slight. On one of the 5 images (the ultra contrasty one) an area that I was pretty sure was blown out has some degree of detail...perhaps a touch of dry down. I don't see it on the other 4 images - they look as i remember in the wash.
Bottom line - I really like the paper.
1) I will selenium these in a few weeks. The comparisons above are vs. selenium toned prints on the other papers. I hope to get a slight tone change to cool with this effort. Would LOVE to hear what people are seeing with selenium and what times/dilutions you are using.
2) Would love to hear if anyone has compared the 3 developers Ilford suggested - Edwal Ultra Black, Moersch SE6, and Dokomul. Which is coolest? Has anyone achieved that slight nuance to blue in the midtones?
I deliberately went outside my normal comfort zone this past weekend - took some high-key, high-flare outdoor shots with 6x7 ACROS which I knew would
be a pain in the butt to print, then went to work with the new Cooltone. Getting good consistent silvery long-scale gradation under such circumstances is something quite difficult to achieve with VC papers, and in the past there are only a few premium graded papers I trusted the task to. So I was pleased to
see just how well Cooltone did, and how I was able to achieve some very lovely prints from negs I would have normally just thrown away or put on the
backburner of never-to-be-done projects. Interestingly, the two main emulsions of Cooltone seem to be very closely matched in hue, though it does take
full development of the paper to make either fully cool. Yet I did attempt split-toning with a few of these and was successful, but using a somewhat different strategy than with Fineprint or MGWT. In two images I had some make-or-break highs which had to dry down absolutely precisely, and it appears
I properly estimated it. I would not agree that a single drydown factor will accurately control all such circumstances, because complex toning regimens
can really fool with the final look. But in terms of simplified technique, one could probably predict such things reliably. And yeah, one of the strong points
of this paper is the ability to hold a lot of fine detail way up there in the highs. It is somewhat different from any paper I have worked with before, but
holds a lot of promise. It's good stuff.
Drew , are you suggesting that this new paper requires a different printing strategy than Ilford Warmtone?
I have never approached a VC paper with a different split printing method, maybe the starting points change but the basic workflow always remains the same.
I am all ears to hear your wisdom flow from the West Coast.
No. You would have no problem with it, Bob, after a little practice. But it is different. Getting an evident gold-chloride/selenium split is disappointing. But a gold toner followed by Kodak Brown split is easy. You just need to be VERY brief in the brown if you want the split and not an overall shift that spoils the cool general effect. And in this case, it will be a neutral black versus the deep blue-black that gold produces with MGWT. Of course, the Brown can go anywhere from the tiniest hint of gold in the highlights to a downright peach color. I look at this as just
another tweak to Cooltone to be used in subtle moderation. MGWT is a better product for conspicuous splits or tris.