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  1. #1

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    Selenium toning, image permanence and how the heck do I do this?

    I'm not sure if this is a place to post this question or enlarging forum is better... but since it involves toning, I'll post it here. Mods, please move it if appropriate elsewhere.

    I have a print that I "perfected" to my liking. I print with Ilford MGIV FB glossy paper with good amount of darkroom manipulation. Un-toned, it is exactly what I want. Now that I'm experimenting with toning, I have issues. It's a bit too dark and the "feel" of the image isn't right. If someone can help me, I'd be grateful.

    1) I am using Selenium toner at 1:40 dilution (Kodak kind) for archival/image permanence purpose only. I do not need color change or Dmax change. It seems, at this dilution, at around 2 minutes mark, the rate of dmax rise starts to really take off. If I tone this for 2 minutes only, am I getting any increase in permanence of the image? More toning, better permanence? Or it isn't like that?

    2) I can tone it for 3 minutes, I guess... and according to Kodak literature, 2 to 4 minutes toning is recommended for image permanence. When I printed my image as I "perfected" it and tone it for 3 minutes, it didn't look right. The image was a "tad too dark" for lack of better descriptions. It isn't what I want. I reduced the exposure time by 1/12 EV and toned for 2.5 minutes. It's still not right. Too dark and the image has a different "feel." I've gone though more than dozen 11x14 paper trying to get this right. Ugh...

    What to do here? I can do minus 1/6EV and tone for 2 minutes but then issue with question 1 comes to play.

    I guess my real question is, what to do here? I need image permanence. I don't need tonal change. How much reduction in exposure and how long to tone? Or it isn't that simple? I can manipulate the image some more but I'll run out of hands to do it shortly.

    Thanks in advance for all the help I can get.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  2. #2
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Toning with selenium only increases the permanence of the image significantly if the toning is at or near it's maximum effect. So if your main goal is image permanence, you need to accept maximum increase in dMax.

    If I understand you correctly, you are saying that you are attempting to adjust for the increased dMax by reducing exposure. Are you adjusting contrast with split contrast printing or otherwise adding high contrast to emphasize the shadows? If so, you my have more success with the toning if you reduce exposure and also reduce contrast.

    When it comes to the appearance of the image, selenium toning mostly affects the shadows. It is the same with high contrast filters or high contrast papers.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  3. #3

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    Matt,

    What I see is that shadow got darker. It's hard to say how much but enough for me to notice it lost details. (it was barely there by intent before and now it's pretty much gone) Mid-tone also increased in density but by less of a degree. Highlight was unaffected. It also threw the image off-balance.

    My main exposure was 38 seconds with grade #1.5. Reduced this to 36 seconds with #1.5. Changed dodging from 20 seconds to 19 seconds. Then, reduced the toning time from 3 minutes to 2.5 minutes. Still not quite right. My fear is going to #1 filter will be too soft and I have no ways to do #1.25. I've been staring at the image for few days so far to see what other adjustment I can make to make it a great image - not necessary the same as the first, but still keep the essence and be great.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  4. #4
    MattKing's Avatar
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    When you say that you changed dodging from 20 seconds to 19 seconds, you tell me that you decided you wanted the area that you dodged to be darker.

    Isn't that the opposite of what you wanted?
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  5. #5

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    Over all, base exposure of 2 second reduction, plus one second less dodging results in one second less exposure to the dodged area - hence lighter by one second. Rest of the image received 2 second less exposure. It was part of my attempt to keep the balance intact.

    Really hard to explain but that was my intent.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  6. #6
    MattKing's Avatar
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    You mention that you have no way of doing a #1.25 filter. If you print for 1/2 the time with a #1 and the other 1/2 the time with a # 1.5, that will give you a #1.25.

    You might want to try something like the following:

    1) A 9 second print of the entire image with a #1 filter;
    2) A 9 second print of the entire image with a #1.5 filter; and
    3) An 18 second print of the entire image, with a #1.5 filter, while dodging the area you are trying to hold back.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  7. #7
    Ole
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    With some papers, shadows get distinctly darker after selenium toning. I have ended up toning test strips and test prints too, if I intend the final print to be toned in any way.

    The curve changes a little too, so you may end up with a rather flat untoned print before it looks great after toning.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  8. #8

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    I wonder if toning for purpose of preservation is even warranted if I'm going to tone it for 2 to 3 minutes only with 1:40 dilution?

    Matt,
    Thanks for how-to on 1.25. I didn't realize that but that makes sense.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  9. #9
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    Hi,

    If you plan on toning, you simply must print differently than you normally would. It takes practice (i.e. trial and error) to figure out exactly how.

    You can search the archives for endless discussion about toning and it's results. I have decided that for "archival permanence," selenium (or any) toning really is not needed, and it doesn't really do anything worth while unless it changes the color and density of the print anyhow (which I usually do not want).

    Just run a nice and clean two-fixer-bath process with plenty of rinses (and hypo clear), and the stuff will be better processed than most old prints I have seen that are absolutely fine, and that is in fairly poor storage conditions!

    I used to work for a museum exhibit preparation company organizing, cataloging, editing, restoring, and reproducing (digitizing via copy stand and hand printing) huge collections of vintage historical negatives, prints, and transparencies; and I also worked for an estate sales company, where I tried to hold onto complete family photo "archives" whenever possible, rather than seeing them split up for 50 cents or a dollar a print. I have personally handled literally over 100,000 OLD photographs (back the the 19-oughts was fairly common) and film frames. It was very rare that any print suffered any degradation of the silver itself. Water damage, stains, folds, holes, chips, tears of the base, sure. But very rarely would a print be "silvering out" or yellowing, and those cases were usually snapshots poorly stored in crummy cardboard in a hot environment. Don't throw your prints into low-quality cardboard boxes and stuff them in a hot garage, and then expect them to be perfect years from now when your grandchild pulls them out after your funeral (though based on what I have seen, they just might be fine, even in those terrible conditions).

    Based on what I have seen and worked with, the main keys to archival permanence are clean processing and proper storage. Don't get me wrong; toning can only help. But I'd only use it if you want the color change; it should not be viewed as an absolutely necessary part of an "archival" process IMHO. There is no reason you should compromise your desired image color simply for sake of achieving "archival permanence." It is simply unnecessary.

    FYI, there is a product called Sistan that may be of interest to you. It will make you feel a bit better about archival issues, but without changing the color of your print.

    This is not an argument against toning in general. I am just trying to say that I do not think it should be used simply for the sake of improving the archival qualities of a print, at the expense of unwanted contrast and color changes.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 05-31-2011 at 05:42 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "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."

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  10. #10

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    Hum....

    It seems Sistan is more of a product I should be using for this application. Thank you for mentioning it. I'll do more research.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

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