</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (RobR @ Mar 24 2003, 01:49 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> Greetings!
I have reasonably good basic darkroom knowledge and equipment, and my black and white work is now exclusively in 4x5 format. I want to take my print-making to the next step in quality. I have a bottle of Kodak selenium toner, but I've never tried to use it. I understand that it will make my prints look much richer. How should it be used, and what precautions do I need to take with it?
RobR </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
As Eric has said papers respond differently so you really need to experiment to see the effect that you like. One paper that I would suggest that you avoid toning in selenium is Ilford Multigrade IV, my experience is that little happens other than to turn slightly blue.
Selenium can be used at many dilutions, I have used from 1 part sel to 4 parts water as well as 1 to 9 1 to 12 or up to 1 to 20. I know of many photographers who mix selenium with permawash but I think this to be wasteful as the selenium will then not last for very long. Temperature will also have a bearing on the end result, normally I use it at 20c but have used it at 1 to 4 at near boiling point, the effects are in my view amazing but the fumes from the toner are serious and can be harmful so if you try this wear some kind od mask and work in a very well ventilated place. As a further precaution I always wear gloves when handling prints in selenium.
When toning your first prints I would suggest you make two identical prints and place one in a tray of water to use as a reference point as the other is toning. Don't continually observe the print in the toner as you are unlikely to notice the subtle changes until you have some experience. The best way to work is to continually compare the toning print with the one in the tray of water. Selenium will affect the darker values first so that is the area to observe at the begining of the toning. If the print is very low key it will dry significantly darker after toning so I always make those prints slightly lighter than I wish them to be to allow for this. This effect is not to be confused with dry down. At this point I must say that I always use fibre paper so the effects could be differebt with RC, certainly I know that RC does not dry down as much as fibre.
My working practice when toning is to give the print a short wash, 10 minutes, followed by placing it in a hypo clear solution such as permawash as follow the instruction as to how long to leave it in before placing it in the archival washer for 30 minutes. The prints are then ready to tone in selenium immediately or they can be dried and toned at a later date. If you tone later it is advisable to place the dry print in water for 10 minutes before the toning takes place. After toning I wash for a further 20 minutes in the archival washer. Selenium toner will last for a long time so don't be tempted to throw it away after a few uses, I have been known to use mine for up to 9 months or until the toning takes so long that I get bored. I also never tone to time although I know that many photographers do. My thinking is that because the toner affects the darker tones first how can you determine the length of time to tone. I always observe and pull the print when I have the effect that I want. Clearly this gets better with experience.