Albumen and selenium toning
I thought I'd test selenium toning with albumen today with some scrap albumen paper and a 6x6cm neg, and despite warnings to the contrary it doesn't look so bad compared to gold toning. Following recommendations for silver gelatin POP, I fixed first, rinsed, then toned, rather than toning before fixing. I also tried TF-4 instead of plain hypo.
So the sequence was--
10 min rinse
1 min TF-4
15 min rinse
3 min KRST 1:32
The albumen paper was actually coated a few weeks ago, and I still ended up with a pretty clean white (cleaner on the print than in the scan) and good density range. I think the bleaching effect of the fixer and to a lesser extent the toner makes up for the slight browning of the aged paper.
So historical authenticity aside, is there any good reason not to selenium tone an albumen print? I'll leave the print out and will store some of the adjacent frames on the roll in a folder to see if there are any obvious short-term archival issues.
I've got a pretty good stock of gold chloride on hand, but for those wanting to try out the process, with gold pushing over $700/oz lately, that's sure to be a barrier, and the option of selenium toning would certainly make albumen printing more widely accessible.
On a normal 72dpi screen, the attached image will be about twice the size of the contact print.
I'm glad to see you try this and post the results David - thank you. One of the things that I had wondered about and which had held me back from trying Albumen (although I have practised the coating process to get it smooth and even, I have yet to sensitise with silver) is the price of toning with gold. Now that you have shown us that selenium does a good job, I am going to try the whole process soon.
I have been using Sodium sulfide for toning my Albumen prints and as far as I am concerned they look just fine. You can use the part B of Kodaks sepea toner or just buy the Sodium sulfide in bulk,it's cheap and a little goes a long way, But it shuld be used at half or third strength or it will yellow the highlites too badly. Be shure the fixer is washed out well or that will cause yellowing of the highlights too. About 10 seconds or so will make a change.
Experiment and see what you get.
Hey Kevin, funny meeting you here....
David, it is hard for me to tell on screen, how does the tonality differ from a regular gold chloride print? I note that the Chicago Albumen Works (POP manufacturers) has a selenium toning formula on their website, but I have never tried it.
As an aside, Blake at http://mostlymetals.com has good prices for Gold Chloride, about $22 per gram with a minimum order of 5 gram. He is also an good guy who makes Uranotypes...
Yeah, I bought my gold chloride from Blake when it was around $16.50/g for 25 g. I recommend him as well.
The screen image is a bit redder than the print. It's pretty similar to a gold toned image, and very much like historic albumen prints. Gold can probably get closer to neutral with longer toning times.
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Originally Posted by JG Motamedi
Hey Jaason, I'v been here for about 3 months now.
David, thanks for posting your results. I have done some albumen, but the cost of gold toning has held me back from doing more. I find your results very promising.
Do you know why it is recommended to reverse the usual sequence (i.e., tone first) for selenium toning? I have tried both Vandyke and POP with selenium and toning first seems to work just fine. I wonder if there is a benefit to the different order or is it just following standard practice for bromide papers?
Moderator's apology--Oh, crap! I accidentally pressed the "edit" button instead of the "reply" button, Celac, and I edited your post, deleting half of it I think, instead of responding to it. Sorry about that, and I hope the question and the answer are clear.
I'm not really sure. I did take a couple of slips of exposed albumen paper and tried one one way and one the other, and the one that I did selenium first then fixer lost more density in the toner than the one that I did fixer first, so I suspect that's the reason.
Generally, one exposes albumen paper so that the untoned print is about 1.5 to 2 stops "too dark," because it lightens up in the toner, then lightens more in the fixer, though it then has some dry down, so it gets a little of the density back.
I suppose another issue might be that gold-alkali toners are alkaline, and fixing first might more quickly exhaust or contaminate the gold toner, where that wouldn't necessarily be a problem with selenium (since we do it all the time with regular silver gelatin papers).
As far as I understand toning for albumen prints, the recommendation is to tone first before fixing. The traditional toners (gold-borax or gold-thiorea) basically leave the silver chloride undisturbed, while the high percentage of sodium thiosulfate in Kodak's Rapid Selenium Toner (about 30% as I recall) works to dissolve the silver compounds. Hence the very visible drop in density when the print is immersed in KRST prior to fixing. The fixer then removes the remaining non-image silver. So toning in KRST prior to fixing introduces two stages where hypo gets to work on the print.
Originally Posted by pelerin
I think that selenium toning after fixing gives more control over the final density and tonality of the image for two reasons: first, the overall image density is already established, and second, the dilution of the selenium toner, and the duration of immersion allows us to decide when the print "looks right." It's much harder to do this if selenium toning comes before fixing, since its difficult to visualize the full extent of the bleaching effect of hypo.