Max Black with NO color : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi Folks, I print B&W at home and want to obtain the blackest blacks with no color tints/tones in the image. I have tried selenium but the image took on a 'color', the images without selenium also have a 'color'. I want BLACK and white - no tone whatsoever. I use Ilford MG IV RC and Oriental Seagal RC. I develop with ethol 1:4 for 1- 2 minutes. I would appreciate any advice which I can use. Thanks in advance. Keith

-- Keith Baker (, July 13, 2000


Have you tried a different paper? if Photographer's Formulary is still in business you should correspond with them, or with Bostick & Sullivan. I think what you are looking for is a cold toned paper, my impression is that both of the papers you are using have a warm tone built in to them. Maybe Kodak or Agfa has what you are looking for.

-- Ellis Vener (, July 13, 2000.

I think that Agfa Brovira produced some of the coldest blacks and purest whites.

-- Dave Richhart (, July 13, 2000.

Ilford MGIV fiber developed in LPD 1:3 and toned in selenium toner 1:4 for three minutes looks mighty black to me. No color that I can see.

-- John Hicks (, July 14, 2000.

Trying to achieve the blackest black a given paper will yield will most likely crush any detail there may be in dark tones that are any lighter than black (Zone II, for example). Toning will darken the darkest areas of a print and it's safe to assume that there will be some dry down that will account for an additional deepening of the darkest tones. If you frame you finished print behind glass (ordinary window glass), you will darken the overall image even further. Depending on where the image will hang, the local lighting will impact how black the blacks look as well. Black only needs to look black when the print is in its final viewing form. Taking all the above factors into consideration, the black you need to achieve in the darkroom may not need to be as black as you think! If by any chance you are printing an image to be viewed on one of those high intensity light box things that camera clubs use, the above info may not be of any help.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, July 14, 2000.

Keith, I agree with Robert that the final viewing area will have an effect on the final look of the blacks in a print. For my own work, I have found that Kodak Polycontrast III developed in Dektol for 1 1/2 minutes with a final slight toning in selenium gives me great blacks. Most papers have a slight green cast that selenium helps correct. The color of the light source used for viewing also has an effect. Good luck in your quest.

-- Doug Paramore (, July 14, 2000.

Were it still available, I'd suggest Kodak Elite as the paper with the most neutral color right after fixation. Since Elite has been discontinued, give Polymax Fine Art a try. It's almost as neutral as Elite was. When I next print on it, I'll be trying Sistan instead of selenium toning at all, since the untoned color is so pleasing to my eye.

-- Sal Santamaura (, July 14, 2000.

At the risk of being flamed by all the RC users out there, get rid of RC and use a FB paper like Brilliant which has one of the best DMax ratings on the market, the other one is Arista Classic. The only way you will know for sure is to TRY them. Pat Now if I can just dodge those flamming arrows!

-- pat krentz (, July 14, 2000.

I'm with you Pat... how 'bout graded? (duck Pat)

-- Trib (, July 14, 2000.

Ok, Ok I know I am going to get into trouble for this one, but if you like printing on RC paper and you are happy with the Ilford and Oriental thats fine. Your vision. My first step would be to try a different developer. I think both these RC papers are considered developer incorporated as well. Either the Multigrade developer put out by Ilford or Ultra -Black put out by Edwal. Both will give you great blacks. You might want to consider boosting your contrast a bit during printing. Lots of folks are taught to print with out filters IMHO big mistake. I also understand that lots of folks don't use filters when they are making the exposure, IMHO another big mistake for B+W. Also your developer may be too warm, this will give a somewhat muddy appearance to the little zones. (1-3) Also are you giving the paper constant agitation? The guys are right though when they talk about detail, (although you did not mention it)and how the print is going to be viewed. Only you know what you are looking for. Hopes this helps.

-- jacque staskon (, July 14, 2000.

We need to clarify; I assume what Keith wants is a neutral-colored print as in not warmtone or cooltone, just as neutral as possible, rather than looking for the highest D-Max possible.


-- John Hicks (, July 14, 2000.

Hi, It Keith again... Thanks for the input so far - I have considered all of it. John asked for clarification: I do want a deep DMax, but I don't want the blue-black or green-black or brown-blacks etc. I want only black - no hint/tint/color/hue and so on. I don't know if that is 'neutral' or 'cold'. I will try the different dilutions of ethol. I presently use 'neutral', I will conpare to both a more dilute (warm) and a more concentrated developer (cold). I saw a print when I was out in Calif by an old guy named 'Adams' - The thing had jet black shadows and they were CLEAN - not a hint of any color. As alway, thanks for your thoughful input. Keith

-- Keith Baker (, July 14, 2000.

OK, I assumed right. Ilford MGIV fiber in LPD 1:3, toned in Kodak selenium toner 1:4 two to three minutes.

You're working with a two-part problem; you need a paper and developer that give you neutral color plus doesn't take on a color when selenium-toned. MGIV fiber is that paper. Lots of people grouse that MGIV fiber _doesn't_ change color in selenium.'ve noted that LPD will vary color according to dilution; it does a bit but not tremendously. Also, if the paper color is a little warm (brownish) you can cool it with the addition of a little benzotriazone or Edwal Liquid Orthazite to the developer.

Display illumination is also a factor; tungsten lights make a print look warm while fluorescents make it look cool. RC really goofs up color; the titanium dioxide brightener fluoresces.

-- John Hicks (, July 14, 2000.

I bet Mr. Adams never printed on RC paper. If you want to imitate his "Look" you need fiber paper. My all time favourite is Ilford Gallery. It's very neutral right after fixation and I normally give it just a touch of selenium toning (diluted 1:20 or so) - this will intensify the blacks, but not shift the color.

-- Andreas Carl (, July 15, 2000.

I hate to say it, but black is a color to the human eye. Most people find a reddish/bluish black more aesthetically pleasing than a green black, and thus the popularity of selenium.

My advice is to find a chip or sample of a black you find acceptable under your final print evaluation light and compare various paper D- Maxes to it. That's similar to the process I used as a textile colorist...

-- John O'Connell (, July 16, 2000.

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