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July 31, 2013 / Aware of the Void

Black and White – Now in Colour

Skerries by the Sea - Lith Print

I had done a small amount of print toning in my own darkroom, nothing major just a quick dig in selenium to see what it brought to the party. The results were a bit underwhelming for the efforts involved so with that in mind I set out to get expert advice and signed up for a one day print toning work shop to see what I was doing wrong.

The pre-workshop instructions were pretty simple, bring a selection of ready-made prints properly washed and fixed. I had booked the workshop many months in advance so of course had plenty of time to prepare images that I really wanted to see tested in different toners. I would like to say that I used the time wisely and took my time selecting and preparing my best work, I would like to say that, but it would be a lie.

I spent the two days before the workshop printing in my darkroom during the hottest Irish summer on record. I am not sure if sweating into my developing trays helped the process but I certainly gave it a try. I made a number of prints on fibre paper and resin coated to compare and contrast the two. I also made a few lith prints just to take advantage of how hot my darkroom was.

Peter has a very impressive darkroom, 6 enlarges and a wet print area the size of an indoor swimming pool. When I arrived he was already decanting chemicals like a mad scientist. There was about 20 trays laid out with various toners, bleach and developers. The instructions were clear and concise and we were given a bound set of notes that I have already used as a post workshop reference. Once Peter had covered the basics he just told us to experiment and have fun, he made some suggestions as to what might work best for our prints but was very clear that it really was best just to experiment.

I have posted some of my results below mostly for my own future reference, the eagle eyed among you will note that for the most part it is the same print over and over and over again. This is because of my relentless application of scientific methods. The trick is to use the science to constrain the fun and artfulness of the process.

The image above is a straight Lith Print.

Camera:Rolleiflex K4B
Film: Fomapan 100
Paper:Fomatone MG Classic Warm Tone (132 Matt)
Paper Dev: Moersch Easy Lith 10ml(A)+15ml(B)+800ml(Water)+200(Old Brown) at 34 degrees centigrade

Print_WS_005

Camera:Rolleiflex K4B
Film: Fomapan 100
Paper:Fomatone MG Classic Warm Tone (132 Matt)
Initial Paper Dev: Ilford Multigrade
Toner: Moersch MT3 Vario Sulphide  – Toner 50ml, Controller 30ml Water 900ml
Bleach: 1+20 for 15 seconds then toned for 30 Seconds.

Print_WS_002

Camera:Rolleiflex K4B
Film: Fomapan 100
Paper:Fomatone MG Classic Warm Tone (132 Matt)
Initial Paper Dev: Ilford Multigrade
Toner: Moersch MT3 Vario Sulphide  – Toner 50ml, Controller 130ml Water 900ml
Bleach: 1+20 for 30 seconds then toned for 30 Seconds.

Print_WS_006

Camera:Rolleiflex K4B
Film: Fomapan 100
Paper:Fomatone MG Classic Warm Tone (132 Matt)
Initial Paper Dev: Moersch Easy Lith 10ml(A)+15ml(B)+800ml(Water)+200(Old Brown) at 34 degrees centigrade
Toner: Fotospeed AU20 Gold Toner 30 seconds

Print_WS_003

Camera:Rolleiflex K4B
Film: Fomapan 100
Paper:Fomatone MG Classic Warm Tone (132 Matt)
Initial Paper Dev: Ilford Multigrade
Toner: Moersch MT5 Sepia Polysulphide  – mixed 1+30
Bleach: 1+20 for 10 seconds then toned for 30 Seconds.

Interesting side note – this stuff smells really strongly of rotten eggs and there is no chance that I will ever use this in my current darkroom due to the proximity to the other rooms in my house. It really stinks.

Print_WS_009

Camera:Nettar Zeiss Ikon 
Film: Fomapan 100
Paper:Fomatone MG Classic Warm Tone (132 Matt)
Initial Paper Dev: Moersch Easy Lith 10ml(A)+15ml(B)+800ml(Water)+200(Old Brown) at 34 degrees centigrade
Toner: Fotospeed AU20 Gold Toner 1 Min

Print_WS_010

Camera:Nettar Zeiss Ikon
Film: Fomapan 100
Paper:Fomatone MG Classic Warm Tone (132 Matt)
Initial Paper Dev: Ilford Multigrade
Toner: Moersch MT3 Vario Sulphide  – Toner 50ml, Controller 130ml Water 900ml
Bleach: 1+20 for 2 mins then toned for 30 Seconds.

Print_WS_007

Camera:Nettar Zeiss Ikon
Film: Fomapan 100
Paper:Fomatone MG Classic Warm Tone (132 Matt)
Initial Paper Dev: Ilford Multigrade
Toner: Rollei Selenia (Selenium) 1+20
Toned for 30 Seconds.

Print_WS_015

Camera:Rolleiflex K4B
Film: Ilford Hp5 100
Paper:Ilford Multigrade IV RC
Initial Paper Dev: Ilford Multigrade
Bleach: 1+20 for 4 minutes pretty much wiped the image
Re-developed: Ilford Warm Tone Print Developer

Print_WS_016

Camera:Rolleiflex K4B
Film: Ilford Hp5 100
Paper:Ilford Multigrade IV RC
Initial Paper Dev: Ilford Multigrade
Toner: Rollei Selenia (Selenium) 1+20
Toned for 30 Seconds

If you made it this far, well done, my conclusions remain inconclusive. I enjoyed the workshop and I think it allowed me to make some very direct comparisons. Experimentation seems to be the key. I think I prefer the results on the fibre paper, they are certainly more dramatic and seem to take a tone better.

A quick note for anyone freaking out about my spelling of the word colour, it is correct where I live!

16 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. nivetha / Jul 31 2013 1:44 pm

    I can’t help comparing this (especially with your scientific method), drawing parallels and grinning in excitement!

    • Aware of the Void / Jul 31 2013 1:51 pm

      Your right Nivetha we do need to get out more…at least for you it’s a job!! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Stephen G. Hipperson / Jul 31 2013 4:36 pm

    How else would one spell colour? 😉

    Even if I had my own darkroom and sufficient skill to print reasonably well to get a print worth toning, there’s no way I would get away with sepia toning – I found it difficult enough to bear it when I worked with it on a couple of occasions – the family would never stand for it.

    • Aware of the Void / Jul 31 2013 4:41 pm

      Stephen it was only one of the toners that was bad, the poly stank. The other two sepia were “normal” darkroom levels of odour.

      • Stephen G. Hipperson / Jul 31 2013 4:52 pm

        Thanks, perhaps that’s what I used.
        I’ll bear it in mind for the future (any darkroom facility is not imminent – though I appreciate it can be done next to the kitchen sink etc – but it’s about hitting the ground running with some background research already carried out!

      • Aware of the Void / Aug 1 2013 6:59 pm

        Stephen, I have a pretty basic setup at home, once you can make the space dark you are good to go, running water is nice but not essential!!

  3. Moni / Jul 31 2013 5:36 pm

    Fun! I did the sepia toning in my darkroom class and it’s pretty awful smelling but it was fun to play around with. It would be great to do a whole class on toning prints.

    • Aware of the Void / Aug 1 2013 6:58 pm

      Only one really smelly one, the polysulphide, the other two sepia tones were fine and I would use them on my house.

  4. christian harkness / Jul 31 2013 7:40 pm

    I am in total awe over your persistence in carrying out all these tests/experiments with the different chemicals. I really think the Moersch stuff is great and his photos are fantastic too. Working in a hot darkroom, wow that can test your concentration.
    While I love toning and bleaching I have to admit that after working with a few of them, I ‘settled down’ and really enjoyed doing lith prints – I found the process to be the most rewarding, and I actually like the fact that basically one can’t duplicate it. At least I can’t, I can come close, but not like I can with regular developer. I also feel that lith printing really freed me up in the way I approach my photography.
    Thanks for posting all this & have a wonderful time in the darkroom!

    • Aware of the Void / Aug 1 2013 6:56 pm

      Thanks Christian, I think the setup we had on the day allowed for a lot of testing and experimentation, I think maybe I should have brought a more diverse range of images, the other photographers did, but I was curious of how they would compare.

      I think I enjoy liths for the same reason, the dramatic changes as the chems cool and expire. Always exciting.

      Thank you for taking the time to post such a nice response to my post.

      • christian harkness / Aug 1 2013 7:31 pm

        No, I am a 100 percent with you. Making all these tests with one image is the way to go, as far as I am concerned. It is the only way you can really see the effects of the various toners and chemicals. If you use different photos, they will react differently.

        Cheers!

  5. sibokk / Aug 5 2013 3:46 pm

    Lovely to see the the different effects. Before I go anywhere toners I’ll have to wait to see what sort of space I get as a darkroom whenever I move house.

    I like the cool tones of the Rollei Selenia and the greenish hints from the Moersch MT3 Vario Sulphide.

    Lovely stuff!

  6. mjculverphotography / Aug 8 2013 12:14 pm

    Super results. We do a lot of toning on our prints in the darkroom. We did try the lith developing but developing times made it a laborious effort. Not to say we won’t do it again but for now we’re doing a lot more split toning. Sepia/selenium or carbon split toning seems to work really well for us. I do like the results you’re getting on the warmtone paper. Thanks for visiting.

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