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Thread: Smelly Toners?

  1. #1
    rogueish's Avatar
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    Smelly Toners?

    After wading through the APUG search results on "toner" I have come up with several things.
    Sulfite toners smell bad and considered(proven) the most archival.
    Gold toners are also very archival.
    Kodak Sepia is now Kodak Sepia II and the main result is all the bath times have changed and are a pain in Bob Carnie's a**.
    Agfa Sistan doesn't change the image tone, but claims for archival properties have yet to be proven (only time will tell, we'll see in a few dozen years I guess).
    Tim Rudman's book on toning is a must read. I do have this and will be looking through it again tonight after work.
    So I have several questions:
    1> Are there archival toners that will change the tone (prefer warm) that do NOT have a strong smell. I can handle the smell of fixer, but have been warned sulfite toners are a little more ... robust.
    2> Are there toners that don't smell bad, regardless of archival properties.
    3> What is/are Hypo-Alum? Is this a toner, a toner base or am I confusing this with some type of fixer.
    4> How strong is the smell of gold toners? Do these only/consistently give a blueish/cold tone?

    My darkroom is comendered bathroom in a high rise condo. I print on Agfa MC-111 and Ilford MG(?) FB and am currently using Agfa's Multicontrast Developer, and a non-hardening fixer. Ilford's Rapid Fixer I think.
    Thanks in advance for any info given.

  2. #2
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    1 - Yes. Thiocarbamide toners have little odor and produce a brown color. They are archival. There are safety issues with thiocarbamide - it is a suspected carciinogen - but should be OK to use with reasonable care. Also, selenium toner has excellent archival properties and with proper dilution can result in a color change. It has a faint odor of ammonia.
    2 - Yes - Thiocarbamide, selenium, and iron among others.
    3 - It is a toner. You can find the formula in various references. It produces brownish colors.
    4 - Gold toner does not have a pronounced smell. There are various gold toners - some produce blue colors (especially on cold-toned papers) while others given neutral to brown results. Main issue with gold toners is that they are expensive.

    The results of toning depend on the toner, the developer, and very much on the paper. Ilford MG is known for not responding vigorously to toners; modern Agfa papers are reputed to be more responsive to toning but I have not used enough to have first-hand experience.

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    Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner only has a mild ammonia smell. It never bothers me unless I have my face right over the tray to get a close look at the print. It's not as strong as cleaning ammonia. It's archival when used to completion. I'm not crazy about the reddish brown tone so, most of the time, I don't tone to completion.

    The only gold toner I've used is Nelson's Gold. It's capable of extraordinarily beautiful, subtle and warm straw to brown tones when used with Ilford MG Warmtone papers. It doesn't have a bad smell but it's a pain to mix and to be used it has to be heated. Even hot, it can take 20 minutes or more to work. Sometimes it's worth it.

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    gandolfi's Avatar
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    go with the smelly ones!

    I once had a visitor from the Danish health dep. and he explained it like this:
    if you are on a safari, and you hear the roar of a lion - all is ok..
    it is when the lion stops to roar, life could be dangerous!

    the smell isn't that bad, and your respect for it will be intact.
    (on a personal note: I never use AGFA Viradon, as it tends to go in my tounge, and I can smell/taste it for days, which is'nt to pleasent..)

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    The thiocarbamide toners are easy to use, odorless, and versatile. You can get a wide variety of colors and effects depending upon the ratio of "part A" to "part B" AND the difference of how much bleaching you do. The ingredients seem to last forever unless you do a lot of toning; I have not seen any degradation of effectiveness even after 2 years of storage. With warm tone papers, the results all tend to be on the warmer side. With cooler papers, you can get a nice range of warm browns/sepias to cool purple browns.
    Sam

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    Bob F.'s Avatar
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    But, if you do use the smelly ones, use them well away from unexposed emulsions: hydrogen sulphide (for 'tis that which is given off - as used to make stink bombs: a delight to all small children) is also a foggant...

    Cheers, Bob.

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    George Papantoniou's Avatar
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    Gold toner will give its most pronounced colour effect if used after sepia toning (the smelly one). The resulting colour will (at least with chlorobromide papers) warm reddish... And it's archival. It may also work after thiocarbamide, but I never tried this combination.

    Lith prints with some papers (like old Kentona, for example) will go pink-blue in the Gold toner. You can do interesting split-toned prints this way... You just have to partially tone a print in Sepia and then put it in Gold toner. You might get a print with warm highlights and cold shadows...

    I usually tone outside (in the summer, when it's warm) so there's no problem with smells and the rest. When I go into split toning lith prints and other adventures, the ratio of successful/ruined prints lowers dangerously, but the impressive results of the good ones is quite rewarding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Shively
    The only gold toner I've used is Nelson's Gold. It's capable of extraordinarily beautiful, subtle and warm straw to brown tones when used with Ilford MG Warmtone papers. It doesn't have a bad smell but it's a pain to mix and to be used it has to be heated. Even hot, it can take 20 minutes or more to work. Sometimes it's worth it.
    Nelson's Gold is essentially a hypo-alum toner without the alum.
    That omision, I believe, is due to it's catalytic action. Toning is done
    at a 15 to 20 degree lower temperature than the alum version. In
    some manner that very minute amount of gold present affects
    greatly the results; no sepias. So little gold goes so far it
    must very economical. I've read that it can be used at
    room temperature although more time is required.

    I've all the ingredients and hope to get around to it soon. Dan

  9. #9
    rogueish's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info. It is pretty much as I figured.
    If I want sepia, I'll have to put up with the smell or be extra cautious with a carciinogen. Like some APUGer's have said (here and in another current thread), looks like I'll be doing mine outside. Of course for me, I'll be taking it to the extreme and be doing it over 300km from home :o (that's where the cottage is, my only other solution )
    When we toned RC prints in nightclass, I tried the Berg Sepia then into the Berg Blue. When freshly mixed, the Berg Blue was too strong and too fast. One print turned too deep (and dark) of a blue for me.I put the print in and pulled it in less than 2 secounds! I couldn't pull it fast enough. In the future if I use this blue, I'll dilute a little more than the box recommends. It worked better once a number of fellow classmates had done theirs. Tried toning in the sepia (light bleach, light sepia, just enough to turn it a light tan) then quickly in and out of the blue. The effect was nice (kinda like George P. mentioned above). I think I would have to practice more to get the look I really wanted.
    For the FB I'm printing at home, I'll be trying that package of Kodak Sepia II I bought a while back.

  10. #10
    FrankB's Avatar
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    If you want a more gentle blue, Rogue, try Speedibrews Porcelain Blue (details in the Rudman tome). It is (allegedly) slightly more archival than iron blue (which admittedly ain't saying a lot!) and works in the same two-stage way as sepia.

    I've used gold on warmtone FB (resulting in a steely blue/black and slightly whiter highlights) and absolutely love it. No odour, shame about the price! The Rudman tome also shows this being used after sepia resulting in anything from a red, as George says, through to a salmon pink.

    The selenium I've used is LP Selenia from MACO (a bit cheaper and allegedly purer than KRST) and the ammonia was a little whiffy... ...at which point I retreated sharply and opened a load of windows (I have a profound respect for selenium!).

    I have some Viradon, which I need for a job for a friend, and am not looking forward to using it. The examples I've seen look great, but it does have a bit of a reputation in the nasal stakes...!

    All the best,

    Frank

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