My subjects - landscapes, urban landscapes and architecture all get pretty much homogeneous treatment. MGIV FB/Dektol, toned lightly in Selenium - just enough to keep the tone neutral, give some slight intensification, and a slight increase in Dmax.
There are no rules here. George Tice, one of my very favourite printers, uses a wide variety of papers/developers/toning depending on how each image prints. On the other end is a guy like John Sexton (another incredible printer), who uses a very narrow range of materials (the vast majority of his work is Kodak Polymax Fine Art FB in Dektol with a light Selenium toning).
The only suggestion I'd make is to stick with a limited selection of materials until you've got a lot of experience. And I mean A LOT. A guy like Tice has had the time and eye to master the subtelties of a large array of materials. Most people, being part time photographers - even very serious and/or talented ones - will never be able to do that, even if they think they can. Mostly they are fooling themselves.
Keep it simple.
Hi Katie, toning is something that never stops being fun to play around with! I always tone my "keepers." I don't waste time on the other prints unless I'm using them for test strips to find the right toning times, dilutions, etc for the keepers. Selenium and sepia are the two I use the most. I also enjoy Viradon, it is beautiful with MGWT. And I have gold toner on hand as well, but honestly don't use it that much to justify the cost so I doubt I'll move on with that into the future. So certainly have selenium toner on hand. I use Kodak's RST and dilute 1:9 for MGIV. With MGIV FB I tone 6-8 minutes at 1:9 and get the most beautiful charcoally cold tones. I love it! With MGIV RC you'll only need 2-4 minutes. With MGWT you can get splits with this dilution at around 6-8 minutes where the shadows are the plummy-brown and the highlights stay coolish-sivler, works well for some work. For more sepia split tone work I will use selenium at the 1:19 dilution for more control.
Sepia toner is an amazing toner and my favorite. I don't purchase pre-packaged kits. A thiocarbamide sepia toner is so easy and super cheap to mix from scratch there is no need to waste your money elsewhere. You only need 4 chems; potassium ferricyanide and potassium bromide for the bleach, and thiocarbamide and sodium hydroxide for the toner. By varying the amounts of sod hyd in the toner you can change the final color from bright yellows to cold purple blacks. And also diluting the bleach much more than normal gives more control, particularly with papers that bleach faster, (MGWT).
As for RC vs. FB if you really want consistency I would choose one and go with it. If you find yourself limited for time many times I would go with RC. There is nothing wrong with printing on RC and I love Ilford's pearl finish! What I have recently done is give up printing anything small on fiber paper. It's just too much work and I find I enjoy printing small on 8x10 and 5x7 RC paper. It's fast, and fun, and the prints are super flat. But when I go up to 11x14 I find that printing on RC paper is.. and quoting what one poster on here said once "like printing on a dinner mat!" I much prefer fiber paper for larger prints, just lovely! I'm hoping to get up to 16x20 soon but we'll see. My darkroom is large but not that large!
BTW... blue toner is not an archival toner and also very messy from what I've heard. I stay away from it for the simple reason of it not being archival.
I think you mentioned you're always spending time testing different things in your darkroom. Pick two papers and one or two developers and roll with it. I think at this point in time the best two papers to roll with are Ilford's MGIV and MGWT. The experimenting will come with toning.
Katie.. forgot to mention.. each and every of my photographs gets treated differently. I tone them each how I feel. Some with disagree with this approach. Take a look at my portfolio.
Last edited by brian steinberger; 03-05-2012 at 03:53 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Do you always tone your prints...
Brian Steinberger: "I don't purchase pre-packaged kits. A thiocarbamide sepia toner is so easy and super cheap to mix from scratch..."
Brian, are you using the cookbook for your toner and bleach recipes, or could you share the recipe with us giving examples of how much to vary the chemicals? Thanks.
Yes please Brian! I looked at photographer formulary and found the chems, (I already make my own ferri) but have no idea as to ratios! I love the warm/blue split or a soft (not red) brown.
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I tone most of my prints, either selenium or brown toner. For the brown I mix it very weak, 1/8th the strength it says on the bottle. This makes it very easy to control anywhere from just removing the green with a touch of warm to quite brown. Selenium is generally 1+19 for 3-5 minutes depending on the paper.
The more I use modern RC papers the more I wonder why I bother with FB anyway. Yesyes, it probably lasts longer, but modern RC will probably last long enough for me. Even not under glass, it can look so good the difference is quite subtle, and it's so easy, and the paper dries without curl, or at least without the wavy corrugated cardboard look - maybe a bit of smooth curl toward the emulsion in my experience. (The difference between different papers is way more than the difference between FB and RC.)
I'm still printing all my display prints and most for exchanges and such on FB, I'm just questioning my devotion to continuing to do that.
At minimum, I keep RC paper around for contact prints, which go on glossy for better d-max than matte and no interference with fine detail under a loupe as with any textured paper) and for things like quick family prints and such which go on some variety of something like pearl, currently Arista Private Reserve aka Adox MCP 312.
If all your work was of the same subject then I could see some argument for uniformaty. But for most photographers this is not true. Even AA took non-scenic photographs. Now this does not mean that a slight toning for archival preservation cannot be done. But archival protestion can also be achieved without toning. So my answer would be no.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Sure. I use the formula I got from the back of Tim Rudman's fantastic book, The Toning Book. Mine is a very subtle variation upon it...
Originally Posted by bluejeh
Thiocarbamide Sepia Toner
Potassium Ferricyanide 2-10g
Potassium Bromide 2-5 g
Water to make 1000ml (1L)
Sodium Hydroxide 3-10g
Water to make 1000ml (1L)
For the bleach it depends what paper I'm bleaching and how much I'm toning. If I'm toning to completion or almost to completion I'll use 10g or pot ferri and 5 g of pot bromide. If I'm looking for something more subtle like split toning MGWT I'll use 2g of each pot ferri and pot bromide.
And with the toner I always start with 10g of thiocarbamide and then add between 3 and 10g of sod hydroxide. With MGWT there is less color variation available than with MGIV. Also with MGWT you will lose highlight density quicker upon redevelopment with the weaker additions of sod hydroxide (3-5g). So for MGWT I will use atleast 5g of sod hyd. With MGIV you can get away with anywhere from 3g which will be bright yellow to 6.5g which is a very nice sepia, to 10g which is a plummy brown.
Last edited by brian steinberger; 03-05-2012 at 09:37 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Katie for this you will want to very lightly selenium tone first, whether it be MGWT or MGIV and then wash, then mix up bleach at 2g of pot ferri and 2g of pot bromide per liter for bleach. Bleach anywhere from 10 sec to 40 sec. for MGWT and possibly a little longer for MGIV then wash then redevelop in thiocarbamide toner with at least 5g/L of sod hyd for MGWT. My preference for splits like this is dependent on the image of course, but I would recommend starting with 6g/L for MGWT and slightly less for MGIV. You can then adjust from there.
Originally Posted by Katie
Selenium can also be done after sepia toning, BUT with MGWT things can get out of control very quickly, with everything going too reddish brown too quickly.
I tone with Se 100% of the time because of the dmax change and not necessarily the color shift (although I like that as well, as long as coldness is kept under control).
Originally Posted by tkamiya
I also rarely use RC for anything but contact prints. Even 5x7s I print on FB. I do not find this takes a significant amount longer than if it were an 11x14 or 8x10. Same amount of drying - overnight, and then I use a Seal press to flatten them. Same procedure irregardless of print size - hang and bang.
Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.