View Full Version : Selenium toning dumb question of the day

Robert Vigurs
28-Apr-2010, 20:35
I am getting conflicting directions on selenium toning. My one book says after fixing, 3 minutes in permawash, then desired time in toning solution, then wash. Another says, fix, then directly into toner solution, then perma wash, then rinse wash. The Fred Pickering book which I had open today in the darkroom suggested the second procedure also. I had a print in the after fix soak tub. Double weight, FB, matte. Nice print I might add,(my own humble opinion.) So with Freds book open, I placed it in a fix again, then toner bath, at which time the non silvered borders immediately turned yellow, and some black silver started to leach towards the edges. Jeez, I thought, now that's interesting. I then placed the print in Herco, agitated then went outside to the garden hose and flushed 'er good for about ten minutes. Much of the yellow went away, and the print looks like it should. Can someone tell me the right procedure here? I thank you in advance. Robert

Ron McElroy
28-Apr-2010, 21:33
If your looking for the Fred Picker method, its a 2 bath fix with the first bath being fixer and the second one being plain hypo. I believe its 3 minutes in each. I use Photographer Formulary TF-4 at film strength for one minute, rinse and hold. When finishing I mix selenium with orbit bath at the desired strength.

28-Apr-2010, 22:24
One of the reasons I stopped darkroom printing was because of exactly the same problem. For many years I have used this procedure: first fix (Kodak or Ilford Rapid Fix at film strength) for 30 seconds, water holding bath, fresh second fix for 30 seconds, then selenium toner. After that, it's HCA for 5 minutes. Never a problem. In the last 3 years, with 2 separate stocks of Ilford Rapid Fixer, I began having stains. Never figured out why, since the fixer seemed to clear the silver just as well as the Kodak variety - I tested it. Very discouraging.

I know it's no help to you, but all I know is that if there's still any silver left in the white area, it will stain.

On a related matter, most people I know followed Ansel Adam's directions of mixing selenium with Hypo Clearing Agent, but I could never find anyone to tell me why. So I have always used them separately and have had no ill effect, even after 30 some years.

Sam Wang

29-Apr-2010, 06:35
Here is the optimum permanence sequence from Ilford's website for their fiber papers. This method has been developed and tested at the Image Permanence Institute at R.I.T.

Optimum permanence sequence with selenium toner

Fixation ILFORD RAPID FIXER (1+4) 1min
HYPAM (1+4) 1min intermittent agitation

Toning Selenium toner diluted with *min working strength ILFORD WASHAID instead of water, intermittent agitation

Rinse ILFORD WASHAID (1+4), 10min intermittent agitation

Final wash Fresh, running water 30min

I use this method with the following modification:

Instead of going right from the fixer to the toner, I fix the prints and let them soak in my washer as a batch until I am done printing for the day, then I tone them together.

*I mix my selenium toner with water instead of hypo clear. I adjust my final wash by adding 15 minutes washtime.

I rinse each print under running water for 15 seconds each side after toning, to keep the Hypo Clear fresh.

*Instead of using Ilford Washaid, I use Kodak Hypo Clearing Agent at a working strength of 1:4 for 3 minutes.

I have tested this method with residual hypo test kit and it comes out perfectly.

Notice, it is recommended to have a single fixer bath with rapid fixer. I use the fixer bath to 1/2 rated capacity, in other words, if it says 1L will fix 40 8x10's I use it to fix 20.

Brian Ellis
29-Apr-2010, 07:31
This difference used to bother me too when I printed in the darkroom. I don't recall exactly how I resolved it but I seem to recall that it's important to make the wash aid the last step before the final wash (i.e. your second method) because Kodak's selenium toner contains some hypo or other fixing solution IIRC and you want to get it out of the print.

Robert Vigurs
29-Apr-2010, 07:57
I thank you all for your responses. I am going to the darkroom this morning to look at the dried print. I appreciate those of you on this site with the knowledge you are willing to share.

29-Apr-2010, 08:00
I use the ilford method, 2 fix baths at 1+4 (for 1 minute each), directly into the selenium at 1:30 (with water), then perma wash for 10 mins, then wash for 45 mins. I have never had any stains or other issues.

I was always told that stains result from inadequate fixing.

29-Apr-2010, 08:12
I use the ilford method, 2 fix baths at 1+4 (for 1 minute each), directly into the selenium at 1:30 (with water), then perma wash for 10 mins, then wash for 45 mins. I have never had any stains or other issues.

I was always told that stains result from inadequate fixing.

For me, stains resulted not from inadequate fixing, but from inadequate washing. Inadequate fixing leaves silver halides, which will darken in time, but they won't look like stains. The brown stains are residual fixer.

To answer the question, I always fixed completely, put prints in the washer to hold, and then toned them together at one time. This was an issue of limited space for the toning bath. Also, if I toned all in the same bath, I ended up with more consistent toning across all my prints from that session. I mixed my toner with water, but then cleared the hypo with a clearing agent and then washed thoroughly. No staining or fading after 20-odd years for the prints still hanging on the walls.

Rick "who has made both mistakes while learning" Denney

Doremus Scudder
29-Apr-2010, 10:26
I've posted extensively about selenium toning here and at APUG. I'll give you a quick run-down, but you may want to search on my name for some earlier and more comprehensive posts.

First, it doesn't really matter if the print goes straight from the fixer into the toner or if you wash it first completely and then move it to the toner. What does matter is that the print be fixed well, and not be too acid (this is what is causing your yellow stains). At no time do you need to use a washing aid (HCA, permawash, etc.) before the toner. You should use it afterward, before the final wash.

If you do decide to go directly from the fix to the toner, as I do, you need to be very careful of two things. First, the fixer must not be exhausted (the closer to fresh, the better) and it needs to be rather neutral or alkaline pH. A two-bath fixing procedure will take care of the first point if you follow the procedure correctly. The second point can be taken care of by making sure your second bath is not too acid. Many use plain hypo, but that is not necessary. I use Ilford Rapid Fix diluted 1+9 with excellent results. I've used plain hypo and alkaline fixers like TF-4 as well with good results.

Do not mix your selenium toner with anything but water. The old practice of using wash aid to dilute the toner is wasteful and unnecessary. I advocate saving your toner solution and replenishing it with stock solution when times get too long for comfort. If you do this, you need to filter the solution through a coffee filter or the like before using it again to remove the precipitate. The advantage is that you never, ever have to dump dangerous, heavy metal selenium down the drain. I have two gallon jugs of differing dilutions that have been going this way for years. If you do dump the selenium toner, use it to exhaustion and then let it sit overnight with a few scrap prints in it. This will remove most of the dangerous selenium from the solution. When handling, use print tongs or gloves to avoid absorbing selenium through your skin.

After toning, transfer the print to the wash aid and then to the washer.

My work flow, in case you are interested, is as follows:

I develop, stop, and give fix 1, then wash and dry. I collect the keepers for a toning session which goes like this: soak, fix 2 (fresh Rapid Fix 1+9 for 1.5 minutes+) toner mixed anywhere from 1+9 to 1+20 or so. I tone till the desired effect is reached and then transfer the print immediately to the wash aid. I have been using a ten-minute treatment in the wash aid with agitation. After that, the prints are transferred to the washer.

Hope this helps,

Doremus Scudder

29-Apr-2010, 10:54
I usually print a couple of images then tone one at a time with the remaining images visible for reference. They key is to watch the change in contrast between the image in the toner and the one waiting or already toned. I avoid toning for a fixes period of time. Best to look a a specific area to see then change till you have sharpened you eye to the overall process.