Sepia Toning / Bleach Bath help
Hello all, hoping you can help me out with some quick and hopefully easy questions. First of all, I'm completely new to toning, I've never done it nor watched it being done.
First stupid question... I see references to a bleach bath but cannot seem to find what makes up this bath. Is it just bleach, plain and simple, is it diluted bleach, or something else altogether? What's a good starting point for the amount of time to leave an RC print in this bath and is it different for Fiber based papers?
Any other tips that a toning newbie would appreciate?
Thanks for any help!
It is a combination of two chemicals; Potassium ferricyanide and Potassium bromide. The comination changes the silver in the print to a different chemical compound which is then redeveloped in the 'toner'.
As for time to bleach, it all depends on what results you want to get. The bleach works from the highlghts down, so you have to watch it as it bleaches to know when to pull the print. To start learning I would suggest printing a number of the same negative and try bleaching first to completion (letting it go until no further lightening is visible) and then try pulling the next prints at different times to see the results. Time is variable from one paper to the next, as is the effect, and you can do any number of things to get different results, but for now, try to keep things simple and save your results, marking on the back what you did so that you can learn how your paper responds.
It's a good idea to always wash the bleached print in running water for 5 minutes before moving the print to the toner bath to prevent contamination of the toner. It is also important when toning with any toner to make sure the print is well washed before toning. Lastly, don't tone in the darkroom as some toners can fog paper and film with the gasses that are given off. Most toners are perfectly safe to use in room light or even indirect sunlight. I tone outside in indirect sunlight and get very repeatable results without any problems.
Perhaps most important is to have fun with it, but keep track of the details. Toning is very rewarding and can take your prints to a new level. Pay attention to what you are doing and you'll learn very fast.
If you buy a sepia toning kit, both the bleach and the developer will be included. Be aware that there are basically two types of sepia toner: ones that will stink the house out and those that do not. Use the former outside, but the latter has no smell and can be used inside. In either case, the bleach has no objectionable smell.
You have two options when toning: tone to completion - i.e. until the image has all but disappeared, wash and then put in the toner... Or, only bleach part of the way, until the highlights have gone, but the shadows still remain. This gives a more subtle effect, depending on how long you leave it in the bleach.
If you want to know the chemistry and a shed-load more besides, get hold of Tim Rudman's toning book.
Have fun, Bob.
thanks so much for the replies, I'll be diving into this in the next day or two!
"...two types of sepia toner" ... "In either case the bleach..."
Originally Posted by Bob F.
And how would you classify hypo alum toning? Hypo alum toner
is a sepia toner and uses no bleach. Is it of a third type? Dan
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You forgot to pull me up on Polysulphide toners as well, which are also sulphide toners so arguably should be classed as Sepia too...
Oh course, I didn't actually mention any type by name at all: only that some stink and some do not...
Have fun, Bob.
Last edited by Bob F.; 12-11-2006 at 08:26 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: Removed shadow...
"... Polysulphide toners as well, which are also sulphide
toners so arguably should be classed as Sepia too..."
Sulfur toning is what S. Anchell speaks of. A sepia color
apparently is the usual result.
"... I didn't actually mention any type by name at all:"
Categories, Steve's word for. Two of them, bleach
and redevelop and direct. Hypo-alum and polysulfide
are of the direct type. Nelson's Gold Toner is of the
hypo-alum type but without the alum. Warm tone
prints are produced at cooler solution
Some sulfide toners use no separate bleach but nevertheless change the silver image into a silver sulfide image. In some parts of the country, this toning takes place if you don't take steps to prevent it. Silverware tarnishes at different rates at different places, but where people, cattle, horses and even here the ground fart there will be a sulfur compound in the air that will eventually make silver prints into silver sulfide prints. Why not beat nature to it?
OTH, there are protective methods. I think moderate selenium toning changes the color of the print very little and even intensifies the blacks somewhat, while it coats the silver with a silver-selenium compound.
I'm rambling. Good night all.