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 02:53 PM. Click to view previous post history.