tea brands for toning cyanotypes
I recieved a lovely tea-toned cyanotype from hermit in the last postcard exchange. I was inspired to try teatoning again. Previously my tonal range tended to be from dark chocolate to mud. Same results this time - highlights gone completely. I tried different strengths - I had started with 8 teabags in 2 liters of water. Too strong? How about 1 teabag in 1 liter, not letting it steep - dunking in the photo with the brew still hot, the colour quite pale, and only a couple of minutes to soak - still got mud. A little lighter, perhaps, but still very little range between highlights and shadows. Dang! What's the secret?
A couple of days ago I had a print I wasn't happy with (big thread across it), and thought I'd try teatoning again. Took the cold dregs from the teapot, added twice as much water, dunked the photo for a few minutes and got a result I liked. Highlights slightly toned, but still very distinct, and shading nicely into the dark brown of the shadows.
What was different? The tea. I'd been doing my toning with a cheap no-name brand. CZ Anderson's book "Alternative Processes Condensed" suggests that cheap nasty tea is better for toning as it has more tannins.
Last night I went through the cupboards and pulled out all the black teas, and the ancient jar of instant coffee kept for guests that gotta have java.
So the verdict - Red Rose (my husband's everyday tea) was hands down the best for toning. The coffee was pitiful - very pale - but then instant isn't really coffee is it? Two "fancy" teas (Yorkshire Gold and Murchie's Golden Jubilee) were not bad. The others (one a special blend, the other, er, a box with ?Sanskrit? writing and no English) were muddy.
So what do you use for tea-toning? Got a favorite flavour?
I wouldn't use anything drinkable for toning, so Yellow Lipton's is great. For toning.
PS: I don't bleach before toning, so the awful yellow stuff gives a very good steel-blue-black tone with pinkish highlights!
Last edited by Ole; 01-13-2009 at 03:37 PM. Click to view previous post history.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
I wonder how you'd do with loose teas. (That's all I drink.) You could probably reuse previously-used leaves for toning - that would accentuate your tannin content (if that's actually useful) and save you money, since it'd be a shame to waste a drinkable steep.
Darjeelings would be more subtle, with pale yellow-green-brown tones.
Assams would be darker, very brown, almost chocolatey at times. They might be more likely to deepen your highlights, which you don't seem to want.
Ceylons would probably be a lot like the Assams. (They taste completely different though.)
A Chinese Keemun would have a more red-brown tone, far deeper than Darjeeling but not as deep as Ceylon or Assam.
Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.
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It's only a guess as I have never used it for toning but in the U.K. we can now get South African Rooibos( Afrikaans for redbush) tea. I have never seen any tea which looks as red and I suspect it might produce a nice red/brown effect.
As a tea it is an acquired taste and quite unlike any Indian tea I have tasted but OK for an occasional drink and might make a nice reddish toner
Ole, I'm bleaching with washing soda before toning - I like warm tones. I'll play around now that I have a tea that works for me.
PhotoJim - all the teas were loose except the Red Rose - and I opened up the teabag so I could measure a teaspoon for the experiment.
Pentaxuser - I was wondering about Rooibos. I'm not fond of it and gave away the stash I had. I wonder about other herbal infusions. What about all those fruity ones full of hibiscus? My favorite - Licorice Spice is very pale - so not worth a try. The acidity of the brew is important, isn't it? Would green tea do anything?
I don't drink tea (or coffee) so I'll be happy for now to use my husbands Red Rose.
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How about posting a picture so we can see what you are getting?
Well, er.... I'm printing on fabric using large digital negs (from scanned film, of course!), so stictly speaking I can't post on APUG. My darkroom has been unusable (see my RANT elsewhere), so I'm mucking about in the kitchen and laundry room with these until I can get back to silver.
A pot of tea made with half normal tea and half Redbush is nice. Not sure about its toning properties though.
Originally Posted by pentaxuser
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.
Can't you just buy tannic acid from somewhere? Every tea will stain the paper whereas you'll get much cleaner paper base and highlights with plain tannic acid... And, definitely clear very thoroughly (develop, then clear in mild citric or acetic acid for instance...)! If not, you'll again get muddy / stained highlights and low contrast.
Please don't tell my wife, however I snagged a bag of her Miles tea that is sent to us by a friend in Somerset. 1 bag, brewed for a longish period of time and it did a great job. Bill Barber