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  1. #1

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    Is my selenium dead?

    Greetings!

    After searching through various posts here and talking to a few folks I have decided to come here and post a thread for a 'final' definitive answer to my little question.

    I recently purchased a bottle of Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner and having never used it before I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I have toned kallitypes and van dyke brown images with various toners (platinum, gold) in the past so I knew what I thought I was going to see when I toned some prints. Well, I never really saw much of what I expected. I am beginning to wonder if I was looking for too much, or expecting something different that doesn't happen when toning gelatin silver prints in selenium.

    Up to this point I have tried toning Oriental Seagull VC FB-II, Ilford MGIV FB and RC and Agfa MCP310 RC in dilutions from 1:20 to 1:3 from 2 minutes to over 10 minutes. I mixed my solution with distilled water, tap water, HCA with tap, HCA with distilled.. all with the same results..... barely anything happening..

    My process is 2 mins in ilford PQ 1+9, ilfostop 1+19 20-30secs, two baths of ilford rapid fix 1+4 for 1 minute each, water rinse, KRST, HCA, final wash..

    I made attempts at using older prints printed with a different process, new prints with the above process, all the same result, I cant even tell the difference when looking at the prints as to which was done in which dilution, 1:20 and 1:3 look the same......

    Is there something wrong or am I just looking for a more drastic change that isn't going to happen?

    I have attached two images that I hope will help to shed light on the situation.. Each image is cut in two one side being toned the other not... Each one was toned over 10 minutes in 1:3 KRST with distilled water... a pair of many prints I tested..

    Does the way these images appear seem consistent with everyones experience with KRST?

    in the first image, the top portion was toned, in the second image the right hand side was toned

    edit: the first image is Oriental Seagull and the second is Ilford MGIV FB glossy
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails toned1.jpg   toned2.jpg  
    "Where is beauty? Where I must will with my whole Will; where I will love and perish, that an image may not remain merely an image."

  2. #2
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    Chris -

    My experience with Seagull is very limited (one package about 15 years ago), so I can't comment on it. But I have used a lot of Ilford MG, and my experience is that the effect of selenium toning is VERY subtle. I can see a difference between the right and left sides of the MGFB print that is about what I would expect from this paper.

    Selenium doesn't go bad. I have a bottle that I am continuing to use that has to be at least 10 years old.

  3. #3
    ann
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    take a careful whiff and if you can smell ammonium it should be fine.

    At a low ratio i.e. 1:3 you should be getting a shift in color from the oriental seagull.It may take longer than 2 minutes. We never use the timer to determine how long to leave the print in the toner, rather , keep a wet copy of the print next to the tray of toner for comparison.

    Ilford's neutral papers are resistent to shifting color but they can be forced to shift with a high strength and longer times.,

    I am not familar with the Agfa papers and selenium.

  4. #4
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    In my experience with ST, the changes are subtle -- but nice -- at least for cold-toned papers. Much more obvious with warm-toned. That said, the effect is probably not enough to show in scans.

    I dilute mine around 6 oz in a gallon of HCA and tone for about five minutes and the effect on cold papers is quite nice. Super rich blacks, brilliant whites, and greater archival permanence. With warm-toned papers, I use about 1/3 that strength and tone about the same amount of time, but NOT enough to turn it brown. The effect is quite pleasing, generally more so if you don't overdo it.
    Michael McClellan
    Documentary Photographer
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    http://www.MichaelMcClellan.com

  5. #5

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    agree with Ann, forget the timer and just watch the print. MGIV does not give a dramatic change IMO. Oriental is more obvious, Ilford MGWT and Agfa show the most change at least in my experience. Also, I have found that the developer used can influence the print as well - a warm tone developer, will tend to tone warmer.

    The first prints I toned with KRST, were printed on MGIV and I had the same impression that nothing happened. As Ann also mentioned, it may take more than x minutes so be patient, sometimes it takes a while.
    Mike C

    Rambles

  6. #6
    reellis67's Avatar
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    Ilford MGIV does not show much change at all. I use KRST 1:20 with MGIV and Warmtone and the only way I can be sure that there is a change with the MGIV is to put an untoned print next to a toned print and then there is a slight difference in appearance. The Ilford Warmtone paper is more responsive than MGIV though, so if you are looking for color change you may want to consider the warmtone. I've never toned RC or brands of FB paper other than Ilford's MGIV and Warmtone so I can't shed any light on the rest of your situation...

    - Randy

  7. #7
    reellis67's Avatar
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    One more thing. As Ann stated, watch the print for change. As the selenium gets used, it will slowly begin to take longer to get the same effect so times you used in the past will become irrelevant over time or if you mix up a fresh batch.

    - Randy

  8. #8

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    The new Seagull VC FB II does not tone well in selenium, IMO. I've seen only a very subtle color shift at a 1:10 dilution for 10 minutes.

  9. #9

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    Thanks for the replies everyone, I guess I have one more question now. If this is how this toning agent should behave, how do I know when the image is fully toned and not just partly toned when I cant really see much of a change happening?
    "Where is beauty? Where I must will with my whole Will; where I will love and perish, that an image may not remain merely an image."

  10. #10
    ann
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    There will be a change, it may be very sutle and it takes experience to learn to see those changes. I know this is not what you want to hear, but with some papers that are resistance to color shift this is just the reality.
    '
    Is there a school that offers classes in photography in your area? If so, see if they offer classes in toning and take one. It is a great opportunity to use a variety of toners and gain a lot of experience, hopefully under the guidance of a good instructor.
    Once you train your eye to see the shift, it becomes rather easy.

    As an experiment you might try the follow; (which is what we do, when we want to discard spent selenium) take a tray and put some old prints in the selenium and let it set for several days. Regardless of the paper type you will see a change, even with heavily used selenium. I have seen Ilford RC paper turn a beautiful brown shade after about 4 days .

    With a ratio of 1:20, you will need (?) about 10 minutes, but again this is a guess that may vary in your environment. I would recommend that you use distilled water with which ever ratio you use.

    Warmtone papers shift quickly and it is easy to determine when the highlights have changed. Remember selenium works form the shadows up.

    Have fun

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