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Does it have a good tone?

johnriley1uk > johnriley1uk Blog > Does it have a good tone?
25/04/2012 - 10:59 AM

Unique views 354 (457)

That's a phrase more commonly heard in the 1960s and 1970s and would probably be referring to something like a Dansette record player......Smile

Photographic toning is something else. When I had my darkroom up and running I did try various toners. Sepia is the obvious one and this suits a wide range of subjects, including but not limited to those we want to give a vintage look to. In any event I always used Chlorobromide papers, which were a delightful warm-black.

One of the strengths of black and white darkroom printing is that we can tone and colour. Toning involves soaking the finished prints in various toning solutions and then rewashing. The oprints used need to be thoroughly fixed and washed before toning. Sepia is brilliant - the image is bleached out and almost totally disappears before being painted back in in sepia using cotton wool soaked in a second solution. It's one of those magical processes that has to be experienced.

Other colours of toning can also be used. Blue is rarely appropriate, but when it works is very striking. Green is even more rarely a good choice. Selenium is very poisonous but gives a wonderful almost light sepia effect. I actually had Selenium toner still on the shelf until about a year ago. There are many toners, but perhaps the most expensive was Gold, which gives a very extreme colour but make a print very permanent.

Here's my digital take on Gold Toninj, perhaps not as red as it should be but as far as I wanted to go!


25 Apr 2012 - 5:12 PM

John - very interesting post many thanks
As a child my Father had a dark room and I remember him processing prints.
I have missed out on this entirely and this is a shame. My workflow with many images would not allow time for this - but then all aspects of photography have moved on (moved away - better term?) from this.
I love Lightroom but do not have a historical experience/apprecation of different film types and so rely on the manufacturer telling me that this is how it would have looked. The result - I very rarely go beyond B&W conversions (Silver Efex Pro) where I just go with what looks good to me.

So again - it was lovely to read your real experience written so well

Kind regards


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