Selenium toner and shadow areas
Spent the weekend trying my first go with selenium toner.
I mixed Ilford/Harman's selenium toner 1:10, and toned a few prints I'd made on Ilford's Warmtone VC fibre base paper.
I was pleased, for the most part. While I know a greater dilution will have a more subtle effect on the print, I was most curious about the effect on the print's dark areas.
They didn't quite block up, but the print got noticeably darker. My question: is it wiser to print slightly lighter, or less contrast, if one knows they'll be selenium toning later on?
I suppose it is a matter of why one is toning.
Just for archival purposes, one uses a much more dilute toner -- which results in little or no change in density or color. No reason to print differently.
Toning for color change -- usually higher dilution, which can cause an appearent rise in contrast with the shadows darkening slightly (highlight values remain the same). Might want to print with slightly less contrast -- not over-all density (that is, lighter), so that the highlights stay the way one wants them. Printing lighter might lose the delicate highlights one wants.
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
Yes, the shadows definitely went darker, even losing some detail slightly.
I'd like a subtle tone shift, and archival quality remains regardless of dilution used (or so I've read).
I think the degree of deepening of the shadows is pretty variable with different papers. I've only selenium toned with Ilford MGIV FB and I don't feel the need to change my desired contrast, but with a different paper, I may find otherwise.
A factor you may wish to consider is Dry Down. Some papers do not require this consideration and I don't know if yours is one of them. But a print will dry to a darker tone overall than is anticipated when looking at the wet print. IF your paper is subject to dry down and you haven't taken that into consideration then you will get an even darker print after toning. This is not to say the blacks will lose seperation but they will not look well defined.
Les McLean has a lot of info on dry down in his book and there probably is a lot here if you do a search.
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Thanks for the headsup, Bruce.
I did wait until papers dried, in both cases, before making a judgement. I also had several identically printed versions of each to go by, too.
Sounds like more experiments with dilution ratios are in order.
And temperature. Also a source of inconsistency.
Originally Posted by Colin Corneau
Ilford Warmtone fibre (glossy) is my favourite paper. I always selenium tone it, to enrich the print's appearance, using Harman selenium toner at 1+3. As you have discovered this does darken the shadows. Two ways you can deal with this are:
1. Selenium tone as part of of the process, not as an add-on afterwards. When my print comes out of the fixer I wash it for 1 minute, then soak it in hypo clear for 1 min. then selenium tone it. If the shadows go too dark I can then easily do another print. I sometimes do this with test strips too.
2. Aim to first get an untoned print that looks good in the shadows and highlights when judged wet. For the final print knock 10% off the exposure time. This will take care of dry down in the highlights. The shadows will also look lighter but will darken down to what they were (or a little darker) when you selenium tone the print.
I watch the print like a hawk when it is in the selenium toner, and transfer it to water as soon as I see a colour change -or indeed any change- start to occur. I like prints with just a hint of colour change.
As far as the colour is concerned I find that if I develop in Neutol WA I get a coolish brown/purple, and if I develop in Harman Warmtone I get a warmer colour. I prefer the latter, but others may not.
When you get used to this paper and how it changes in selenium you will find that you won't need to do step 2 so rigorously. The whole process will become intuitive and easy to control.
Hope this helps.
I use a super bright little spot when selenium toning and see the color and density change very early. If doing important stuff I make 3-4 prints of everything and place one print in water next to the toner under the same light so I can see the change in the toning print. I usually print slightly lower in contrast with most papers when selenium toning. some, like Oriental Seagul gain LOADS of density including highlights, when well toned. Others, Like MGIV tone very slowly and once done more closely the resemble the original with deeper blacks and more richness. Ilford Wt is somewhere in between, despite being WT. Forte papers go nuts if you are not careful!
Great advice, all. Alan, I like your approach and will try it next time I'm in the darkroom.
I've done a lot of prints already for this exhibition, but can easily do more if need be and at least I have lots of prints to experiment with!