Hardener, papers, and toning

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I work in a public darkroom that supplies all the developing chemistry (for paper) which is really convenient but doesn't give one options. They include hardener in the fixer, though at a somewhat diluted concentration I'm told.

Does the hardener make it impossible to tone prints, or just reduce the effectiveness?

Also, some papers are said to "take" toners better than others. I use predominantly Ilford MG fiber paper. When I tried selenium toning (1:15 dilution), hoping to boost contrast in the highlights just a bit, I could see no effect even on prints treated for >10 min. Perhaps this was too dilute, perhaps it was the hardener in the fixer, or perhaps it was the Ilford paper, which someone said doesn't tone well.

Any thoughts on this issue? Any papers that work well with selenium toning (I prefer glossy finish, with neutral color). Anyone have experience toning Ilford papers?

-- Anonymous, February 04, 1997



Hi Cindy, When I was in the loop ;) just a few years ago, I found that Kodak Elite toned very well. It is a cold toned paper and is also extra thick. As far as hardner in the fix affecting toning I don't have any experience with that but suppect it could have slight effect on the toning. Oriental Egshell toned well but don't know if it is made any longer. Dell

-- Anonymous, February 04, 1997

RE: Hardener, Toning, & Papers

Hi Cindy! I just posted a reply to Jerry's question regarding use of selenium toners. You might check that posted message for more details but I will say that even a dilute amount of hardener in the fixer will make it more difficult to tone papers especialy at the concentration you used (1:13?) and the paper you used (Ilford). I predominantly use Ilford for my "cold"tone prints (I love the look of Ilford papers, by the way) and I typically use a 1:10 solution for 3 minutes and I get a darkening of the shadow areas (no hardener in fixer). I also pre-soak the paper in a warm water bath to help the toning process to go a little faster. Since you have no choice on the shared chemicals you could try using a stronger concentration of selenium, say 1:5 and see if you can achieve the results that you a looking for. If you go to 1:3 with Ilford you will begin to see the blacks turn a purplish-black color on Ilford VC-FB paper. Also, you could mix your own fixer without hardener and bring it to the darkroom if you reeeally get desperate! :) It just may take some experimentation and patience but you can get there. Oriental Seagull cold-tone papers and Kodak tend to tone more easily than Ilford, if that's an important factor to you. Lastly, I do not think that selenium toning will affect the highlights at all. It may appear "brighter" because the grays and blacks will darken and therefore add more contrast to your image. Good luck, Cindy!

-- Anonymous, February 04, 1997

What toner does

Thanks for the info. The point about what shades get altered is well-taken. I was trying to boost the overall contrast just a tad in a "white-on-white" print by darkening the darker parts (which are zone 6 or so) via toning as suggested to me by a fine art photographer friend. So my statement about increasing contrast in the highlights wasn't actually correct, except that the whole print could be considered highlight! Anyway I'll try a more concentrated solution and see what happens.

I really like the Ilford MG (now IV) Fiber paper too, if only I could get some more. This recall's a bummer!

-- Anonymous, February 05, 1997

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