Selenium Toning for Maximum Black
I just posted two instructional videos on youtube on doing a BTZS paper test to determine the toning time for maximum black when selenium toning:
It's a very simple test to do. The basic procedure is in video #33:
Selenium toning is important for archival processing and increases the density of the darker tones in your print.
This procedure simplifies toning to a time for selenium toning (see the video). Also with modern papers such as Ilford Multigrade IV and Warmtone paper when toning the black will get blacker but there is no color change, so the testing procedure determines the time for toning to produce maximum black.
Any questions, please email me.
Looking forward to watching these. Thanks for posting.
Fred, I bought some DI #13 recently and I have some questions/clarifications beyond what's in the printed instructions. It says for further information on the developer to go to darkroom innovations, but since that doesn't exist anymore does viewcamerastore support this product? Figured I'd ask since it's a Phil Davis formula.
The instructions in the DI-13 box are old and based on the old 100 - T-max. My suggestion would be to do a film test. It does work best with 100 T-Max and Phil has suggested not to do a pre-soak for best results. For information on the BTZS film testing procedure please see the instructional videos on youtube. To find them just do a search on the word "viewcamerastore". Also you can email or call me for more information.
Thanks for posting this. I'm sure many will find it useful.
For me, however good this information is to know, I still prefer to tone each image to the amount of image tone change that best compliments it. For those prints that only need enhanced D-max, maybe the "cookbook method" will work well, but for me, toning is part of the creative process, and a visual assessment of the print as it is toning is indispensable.
I just toned a batch a couple of days ago and was again struck by the fact that two different images printed on the same paper, same grade and developed for the same time in the same developer needed markedly different toning times to get the best out of the image.
Let me plug again, while I'm at here and posting (and waiting for the print washer), my method of replenishing and saving selenium toner solutions. I never discard my toner, rather, as toning times get too long for comfort, I simply add more of the stock toner solution (I use KRST) to the working solution to replenish it and decrease toning times. The solution is saved, and filtered through coffee filters before each use. The filter removes the black precipitate and any crud that may have accumulated.
I have two gallons of toner solution, strong and weak, that have been going this way for several years. They tone fine and, most importantly, I never, ever have to discard toxic selenium into the environment. Selenium discarded into municipal sewer systems is not removed, rather it (and other heavy metals and toxins that are not degraded biologically) is concentrated in the sludge produced by water treatment plants. I find it much more economical and responsible to replenish.
For those concerned about possible contamination using this method, let me report that my last batch of prints, fixed in Ilford Hypam (2-bath), toned in 4-year-old replenished toner, soaked in HCA for 10 minutes and washed for one hour in an archival washer all passed the residual hypo and residual tests (silver nitrate and sodium sulfide respectively) with flying colors; no stain whatsoever.
Okay, down from the soapbox.
Thanks again Fred for this and all your other very informative videos.
Hi Doremus Scudder,
Thanks for your comment. I started doing the procedure because with papers like Ilford Multigrade IV, you can't see any color change. With warmtone papers I don't like the split toning, so the procedure works fine so that I stop the toning before it split tones. What paper are you using that you can see the difference as you tone? It was nice when you could see the color change on the papers many years back.
The selenium toning for maximum black works well on portfolios, so that all the prints match. My videos are aimed also at beginners so that they can get good results by testing and not go through all the trial and error like we did originally.
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I in no way wanted to contradict your contribution or method, just add to it, also for the benefit of those who may not be as experienced. For those who want no image change, but wish to increase D-max, your technique is viable, to a point.
The only problem I have with it, is that it relies on a constant strength solution. In practical reality, a solution of selenium toner loses strength as the selenium is used up and times to reach the same degree of toning gradually increase. In your case, the time to reach D-max for the first 8x10 in a liter of solution and the 50th will be markedly different, since the effective strength of the toner will be less after a number of prints are run through it. This is not taken into account in your tests.
One could simply discard the toner after a certain number of prints had been treated per volume of toner and achieve a degree of repeatability. Unfortunately, this entails discarding a lot of still active, but weaker, toning solution, a practice I find both uneconomical and environmentally irresponsible.
Replenishing the solution is a much better and more environmentally-sound method than discarding toner with a lot of active selenium compounds. In your scenario, one could replenish at a certain rate depending on the area of paper run through a given amount of toner. This would work extremely well, but require testing to determine the rate of replenishment. Maybe you feel like doing these tests and posting another video :-)
For me, since I desire a change in image tone that ranges from simply neutralizing the greenish cast some papers have to adding a subtle but marked eggplant tone to the print, a visual approach is more useful. I tone with an identical untoned print in a tray of water next to the toning tray, and pull the print being toned when it looks right. Lighting type and intensity make a difference here, so I try to tone under lighting that I prefer for print display. Since I usually have multiple copies of a print that I am toning, I note the time for the pilot print and then tone the others to that time, keeping in mind that the toning times are slowly increasing. If I have a batch of, say, five prints, I am careful to keep comparing subsequent prints to the original pilot to make sure they are toned enough. It's all rather subjective, not the carefully controlled method you have developed.
This allows me, however, to replenish and save my toning solutions indefinitely, as I described in my previous post. I've just finished another toning session, and both my strong and weak solutions are doing just fine and the prints test perfect for residual hypo and silver. I've had these two jugs of toner for at least five years (possibly 10!) and have just added stock to the working solution as needed (when toning times become too long) and filtered them before use each time.
To answer your questions, I use primarily graded papers: Oriental Seagull, Adox Nuance, Slavich, Foma, etc. with some VC for times that the graded papers won't do the job (Kentmere, Adox). I see tone change as I tone on all the above papers. It's been a long time since I used Ilford products, but saw tone change on the papers from them I used also (Ilfobrom, Gallerie). In my experience, almost every paper will exhibit a marked change in image tone with selenium toner if the dilution is strong enough (although I have worked with one or two that just seemed to get colder and denser... maybe the Multigrade falls into that category now). Papers like Oriental and Kentmere require a rather strong solution. The Adox papers tone very rapidly in a very weak dilution of toner (so did the old Bergger NB papers). Slavich papers are somewhere in the middle. Hence my two solutions, one strong, one weak.
Maybe, if you find my methods valuable, you can pass them along to the many photographers you help with toning, etc.
Thanks for the links. It is good information.
I don't use selenium unless I want the color of the print to change. From what I have read, it doesn't protect unless the print is fully toned...and most of the time I don't like the hue given by selenium.
Also, I have seen plenty of very old prints that were likely not processed "archivally," and that were stored in terrible conditions (hot and/or musty S. CA garages and attics for 50+ years), and they have survived fine for the most part. I don't buy the "YOU MUST SELENIUM TONE OR YOUR PRINTS WILL FALL APART" viewpoint.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
I can't think of any paper I've used where sel toner did not produce some kind of color shift. Maybe some of us are more attuned to it than others. I consider it an important fine-tuning control to the image, just like the subtle yet significant change in the DMax. The degree of development and kind of
developer is very significant in this respect, as well as the specific type of paper, toner conc temp&time; and in VC papers, even to what degree the two layers are respectively exposed. Ilford MGIV does seem somewhat less sensitive in this respect than many other papers, esp the RC version.
But that's one reason I rarely use MGIV.