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Thread: Selenium Toner Impact On Negatives

  1. #31
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Selenium Toner Impact On Negatives

    Jorge, if I remember correctly, Wilhelm's tests of toners were chemical oxidation tests and not lightfastness tests. But the RIT tests I just posted were exclusively about chemical oxidation.

    On inkjet pigments, keep in mind they're not all the same. Piezotone inks use pure carbon pigments which (in theory, anyhow, for whatever it's worth) have the potential of being more stable than silver.

  2. #32

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    Selenium Toner Impact On Negatives

    they were all actually from the same person--Douglas Nimishura (sp?, I can never get it right...) from the IPI. He co-wrote that thing in the Abbey Journal, which was also done in another form on the Consdistlist that you can access through CoOL or subscribe to. James Reilly has also written several books and written papers dealing with these issues as well. If you've seen those kodak books "Conservation of Photography" and "Care and Indentification of 19th Century Prints", those are his. There are some books that deal with this. The out of print--"Collection, Use and Care of Historical Photographs" by the American Assoc of State and Local History, and Dennis Inch/Lawrence Keefe's "Life of a Photograph"--they actually have a chapter on archival film processing and outline a procedure for toning b/w sheet and roll film with gold, sulfide or selenium.

    The IAQ site--those people are conservators as well, and some are materials engineers as well and they have links to the IPI as well. They had an excellent research paper about ozone and inkjet pigment & ink deterioration a few years ago. That study was done at the IPI and was also tied in with an ANSI/ISO workgroup that was trying to figure out some new standards for digital ouput--the Consdistlist has many postings about this group as well, with many of the same people.

    I don't see this stuff as "opinions" as much as observations from those who are working in the field as conservators and engineers for the manufacturers. Anybody who works in a museum or an archive is going to be seeing some deterioration even within their own collections at a certain point--and they're sure going to see it in the stuff they accession. Whether it's an opinion or a fact--I don't know how they can really come up with a definitive statement if you really choose to get into it. It's like the term life expectancy (LE) in the standards now instead of "archival" because they deem that there is no definitive standard for archival....

    then if you allow me to veer off topic here--look at the standards for preservation documentation and how these changing as well. 100 yrs was the benchmark, and then that sort of moved down to 75, and they began accepting RC prints and soon most documentation was actually being done on 35mm rollfilm instead of 4x5 and prints were being made on RC paper instead of fiber. Now all that's a moot point, as this is changing to digital and inkjets. Soon this will be the standard--while most of the people I know working are playing catch-up here as we still shoot film & make prints the old fashioned way, and everything that was governed to us a "standard" has changed almost seemingly overnight--but we all saw it coming...

    so you can either do the accelerated tests and extrapolate the results--or you can look at what you actually have and how it was stored over a long period of time and what it looks now. On a side note--this is how I came not to trust many of the "archival" negative sleeves and the like--simply because they didn't hold up under a real time observation by this opinionated photographer....

    my opinions only as always/not my employers

  3. #33

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    Selenium Toner Impact On Negatives

    the tests were being done because the problems first showed up in microfilm. Microfilm is THE standard for records retention and reformatting projects in pretty much every government archive in the world since the 1950s. Whatever state or country you live in has a program that records all the public records, and probably most of the regional newspapers as well onto microfilm. Microfilm is the the media that all other forms of "archival" media is measured against. It's like the canary in the coalmine. Many of these institutions are going into digital now, but they still stick with microfilm as the standard. there are actually public records laws written around microfilm reformatting and retention schedules--it's going to remain a tool in preservation for a long time. forget sheet films, fiber prints and all that other good stuff. it's all about microfilm when it comes to preservation.

  4. #34

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    Selenium Toner Impact On Negatives

    well, you can read some of those links above, or read more of wilhelm's book that you all seem to have a problem with..or you can get online and check out CoOL, or delve into the almost 20 yrs worth of Consdistlist archives. Or you can go to one of those IPI conferences like I did--they usually last about a week and cost quite a bit, but they're chock loaded with archival management topics and then you can ask the IPI or whoever is there from NARA about silverlock. I noted in this chapter you all linked to--that Wilhelm mentions how NARA was going to being adopting the IPI polysulfide treatment for b/w film. The guy he mentions in that chapter was at the conference I attended as a speaker, but that was about ten years ago. You can see if anyone from NARA can field the quiestion as to whether they began using polysulfide toners on their film and how it differed from selenium in tests, and what it looks like now. My guess is nobody will know until we're all dead. Which is a moot point for us, but pretty important to the goals of these institutions.

    thats' it for me. I just take it on face value that these guys are experts in their fields. perhaps you know otherwise.

  5. #35
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    Selenium Toner Impact On Negatives

    When it comes to my own film, I don't tone it in anything, and I put in those mylar sleeves than Ken (probably justifiably) is suspicious of . Why? Because I'm not going to be around in 200 years to print them, and I don't care about them as historical documents. Any archival worrying is aimed at my prints, which for reasons of hubris I hope will last a while.

    I only raised the point about not trusting selenium because someone brought it up as a reason to tone film. If you're interested in any kind of toning for preservation, I think it makes sense to look at what the research has revealed. The scientific evidence I've seen, however good or bad, has not supported selenium's usefulness. The only support I've seen has been annecdotal, "common sense" or from the home laboratories of guys like Ctein, who don't have the best track records when it comes to devising sound experiments.

    It matters little to me who you choose to believe ... and as Kthompson pointed out, we'll all be long dead before anyone knows for sure. I'm just suggesting that if this matters to you, it might be worth questioning what's been prevailing as common sense.

  6. #36
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    Selenium Toner Impact On Negatives

    or from the home laboratories of guys like Ctein, who don't have the best track records when it comes to devising sound experiments

    Paul, I happen to have visited Ctein during the time he was running the experiment that became the foundation for his published report on RC paper. I saw his experimental setup, which was well-conceived and well-controlled, and his results, which were convincing with respect to the specific, carefully qualified conclusions he drew from them. I'm sorry, but your generalization about his experimental skills is simply unwarranted. And it is very clear that selenium toning - or at least toning with the specific product Ctein used in his tests at the time - does have a protective effect that at least under some real-world circumstances suppresses at least one important mode of print deterioration peculiar to RC papers.

    That doesn't prove how long those benefits will last for an RC print, nor that the effect is entirely due to selenium per se, or that selenium toning will have comparably dramatic benefits for FB papers, or negatives, of course. The bigger problem here is precisely the extrapolation of evidence from one experimental system to make sweeping claims about the properties of other systems that are analogous in some respects but not others.

    Wilhelm's tests pretty much unravelled the idea that selenium does much for print longevity.

    I'd appreciate a reference that supports that claim. There's nothing in "The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs" that has any such implication, and he is quoted as recently as the Jan-Feb 2005 issue of Photo Techniques as saying that "the fiber-base black-and-white print, when reasonably well processed and washed - and especially if it's selenium toned - can be considered the high water mark of photography in terms of permanence". This is a statement that excludes specialized processes such as Pt/Pd, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion that at least as far as silver printing is concerned, he thinks selenium toning has some value in this respect.

    I don't really know whether selenium toning of FB prints, or of negatives made with general-purpose photographic films, has a meaningful protective effect under the real-world conditions my prints and negatives are likely to see. The caveat to take vendors' claims with a grain of salt is always warranted, especially when the evidence supporting the claim is not provided for critical evaluation. But no evidence has been provided here to support strong claims that there is no practical benefit.

  7. #37

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    Selenium Toner Impact On Negatives

    Michael - You're partially correct, I shouldn't have said that the shadows "and midtones" are unchanged by selenium toning of a negative. The statement is correct with respect to the shadows, they are in fact unchanged (or if there is a change it's so slight as to be iimperceptible) but the midtone densities will increase slightly as you point out.
    Brian Ellis
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  8. #38
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    Selenium Toner Impact On Negatives

    I started a new thread on toning here: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/502270.html

    The information that I found was valuable enough that I wanted everyone to be able to find it.

    One thing I'd like to clear up: I was mistaken in attributing my conclusions to Wilhelm's publications. I was remembering a paper someone had forwarded to me several years ago, and for some reason thought it was from Wilhelm. I'm sorry for the confusion.

    Wilhelm's book supports using Selenium for print permanence, but this conclusion is not based on any of his own tests. They're based on the same sources everyone else has been using: tradition, kodak publications, and common sense.

    The information in the new thread does not support these conclusions.

    However, in the context of this thread, selenium toning the crap out of a negative, with the goal of maximum intensification, may well offer strong protection against many kinds of oxidation--since it has a fighting chance of converting all the silver to silver selenide. Partial toning offers very little protection.

    But please read the full post if you're interested--I have not seen this information published anywhere else.

  9. #39
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    Selenium Toner Impact On Negatives

    "Albiet a minor inconsequential one. "

    We're ALL gonna die!

  10. #40
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    Selenium Toner Impact On Negatives

    We're ALL gonna die!

    But with a judicious choice of toner, at least you can be well preserved...

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