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  1. #1
    Rudeofus's Avatar
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    Issues with Selenium Toning

    I tried to tone some images first with selenium toner, then with two bath sulfur toner in order to obtain dark black shadows together with yellow/brown midtones and highlights. For some reason my selenium toner appears unable to protect my prints from my bleach, though. Here is my setup:

    • Rollei Rapid Selenium Toner (RSE) used at 1+20 dilution at 20░C. The bottle with the concentrate is a year old but was unopened until today. It contains a clear liquid with no precipitate, and smells like Ammonia. When the test print is in the selenium toner, I see no change in the print, nothing.
    • Bleach contains 50 g/l Ferricyanide, 12 g/l KBr and 16 g/l Na2CO3
    • Paper is Ilford MGIV FB neutral tone


    The procedure is thorough wash, then selenium tone for X minutes, then wash, then bleach, wash, sulfur tone, wash. Even with selenium toning for 24 minutes my dark regions still get bleached by the Ferricyanide bleach. I reversed bleach and selenium toner step and can confirm that my selenium toner fixes the image away, sulfur toner will not recover the image after this reversed procedure.

    Can the selenium somehow become inactive?
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

  2. #2
    Rick A's Avatar
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    I always bleach, brown tone, then selenium tone, in that order for optimum D-max and deep shadow tones.
    Rick Allen
    Argentum aevum

  3. #3
    Rudeofus's Avatar
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    Rick, can you confirm that the final selenium toning step makes a visible difference on your print? When I went from bleach directly to selenium toner, the toner fixed away my image (selenium toner contains lots of Ammonium Thiosulfate).
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

  4. #4
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    I think something is wrong with your Selenium toner. I use Harman or Kodak selenium toner and even with Ilford MGIV I see a clear difference before and after selenium toning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rudeofus View Post
    I tried to tone some images first with selenium toner, then with two bath sulfur toner in order to obtain dark black shadows together with yellow/brown midtones and highlights. For some reason my selenium toner appears unable to protect my prints from my bleach, though. Here is my setup:

    • Rollei Rapid Selenium Toner (RSE) used at 1+20 dilution at 20░C. The bottle with the concentrate is a year old but was unopened until today. It contains a clear liquid with no precipitate, and smells like Ammonia. When the test print is in the selenium toner, I see no change in the print, nothing.
    • Bleach contains 50 g/l Ferricyanide, 12 g/l KBr and 16 g/l Na2CO3
    • Paper is Ilford MGIV FB neutral tone


    The procedure is thorough wash, then selenium tone for X minutes, then wash, then bleach, wash, sulfur tone, wash. Even with selenium toning for 24 minutes my dark regions still get bleached by the Ferricyanide bleach. I reversed bleach and selenium toner step and can confirm that my selenium toner fixes the image away, sulfur toner will not recover the image after this reversed procedure.

    Can the selenium somehow become inactive?
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  5. #5
    Rudeofus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    I think something is wrong with your Selenium toner. I use Harman or Kodak selenium toner and even with Ilford MGIV I see a clear difference before and after selenium toning.
    Further investigation of this matter turned out, that stronger concentration does indeed show some activity. With 1+5 dilution I get full selenium toning after about 10 minutes ...
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

  6. #6

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    Rudeofus, I'm glad you found the solution to the problem. MGIV, more than any paper I've used, needs to hit hard with both strong selenium and bleach to get anywhere. I use 1:5 for a few minutes, then full strength bleach, then sepia. That gives me beautiful results ; much nicer than I get with the new classic paper.

    In contrast, with the new classic paper, I'm using selenium at 1:20 for 2 or 3 minutes tops. And I can use a much more dilute bleach.

  7. #7
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rudeofus View Post
    Further investigation of this matter turned out, that stronger concentration does indeed show some activity. With 1+5 dilution I get full selenium toning after about 10 minutes ...
    Cool.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  8. #8
    Roger Cole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rudeofus View Post
    Further investigation of this matter turned out, that stronger concentration does indeed show some activity. With 1+5 dilution I get full selenium toning after about 10 minutes ...
    I never understood the people who said MGIV didn't respond well to selenium. I see a profound difference at 1+19 starting at about four minutes and if I'm not careful I'll go too far and get a purple tone I don't want, instead of just a cooler black and increased d-max. It responds far more and more quickly than MCC 110 which also DOES respond (albeit slowly and subtly - the difference is hard to see after prints dry but clear enough when wet.)

    Maybe I'm just really sensitive to tone changes.

  9. #9
    Rudeofus's Avatar
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    From what I remember, MGIV used to respond very strongly to selenium toning, and I'm starting to wonder whether the issues lies with Rollei's Rapid Selenium Toner. All the folks reporting success with MGIV and selenium toner used some other product.
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

  10. #10
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rudeofus View Post
    From what I remember, MGIV used to respond very strongly to selenium toning, and I'm starting to wonder whether the issues lies with Rollei's Rapid Selenium Toner. All the folks reporting success with MGIV and selenium toner used some other product.
    Test it with some warmtone paper if you have it around. It could be that the Rollei toner is not necessarily a bad toner, but that it may have shorter life span than the Kodak and Harman products.

    Or, simply get a bottle of Kodak, Harman, or maybe Moersch toner and try again. MGIV should definitely react to selenium. I have used MGIV with Dektol, Ethol LPD, and 130 and it has responded well after using either of those developers.

    Good luck!
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

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