Selective / Localized Bleaching of Selenium Toned Prints
Been searching the forums and most posts talk about bleaching prints before selenium toning. I have some prints with dark spots that I thought I could live with and now I'm rethinking that.
Can I selectively bleach a print that's already been toned with selenium? If so, what kind of bleaching agent is recommended and what are the risks of color shifts/staining? One old post mentioned a post-selenium bleach, but did not give any exact information.
For some info about my prints: Ilford MGIV Fiber Base, Matte Finish, toned in Ilford Selenium Toner 1+9 for about 10-12 minutes
Any advice and/or sharing of past experiences/experiments would be greatly appreciated.
You'll find bleaching after toning difficult and largely unsuccessful with bleaches like ferricyanide that affect the silver. Silver grains in the print are combined with the selenium, which doesn't like to bleach. If you bleach to completion, the bleach will have little or no effect; if just a bit, then you may have more luck, but, you'll be changing the image tone in the area you are bleaching...
I would recommend careful etching and then retouching with the proper color of dye (Spottone or similar) mixed with gum Arabic for gloss.
I prefer etching to bleaching for removing small dark spots on prints anyway. I use a small scalpel and an 10x loupe and etch very carefully to minimize the depth and size of the crater that is inevitably caused. I then retouch to match surrounding tone with either a mix of dye and gum Arabic, or a coat of gum Arabic after the retouching to fill the hole a bit and match surface gloss of unferrotyped glossy fiber-base paper. With matte finish paper, you may not need gum Arabic at all.
Hope this helps,
I think the areas might be too large for etching - but I can always try on a test print (I've never etched a photograph before).
Are there bleaches that don't solely act on the silver in a photograph? I imagine there's got to be something?
Also, are there any other creative solutions excluding bleaching or etching - particularly for larger areas or scratches? I only have experience spotting prints - are there any fancy retouching ideas that I should consider trying?