Since upgrading my darkroom to the heavenly delights of running water and a nice big sink, I’ve been exploring chemical toning and to an extent different types of paper – specifically Ilford Warmtone FB paper which generally responds a bit more enthusiastically to colour changes with toners than a neutral paper like standard Ilford Multigrade Classic FB might do.
The untoned image on Ilford Warmtone Paper, shot on my Holga using Ilford HP5 film, developed in ID11 at 1:1 for about 15 mins.
I used the Fotospeed ST20 variable toning kit. Mixed with the 15ml / lt additive as per the instructions for the standard “sepia” tone. I only bleached back the highlights as the full blown sepia look all the way through to the shadows I’m generally not a fan of… so I guess technically it is a “split-tone”.
Now this is where things get a bit more interesting and the warm tone paper really shows it’s personality!
If this had been a neutral paper like Ilford Multigrade Classic FB, you may see a deepening of the blacks for sure with subtle purple tints throughout the shadow areas depending on how strong the solution is. With the warm tone paper it distinctly warms up with lovely reddish-browns throughout the print. I really like this look.
I toned the print in Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner, mixed 1:5 for approx 5 mins.
Sepia / Selenium
Taking things one step further now. I bleached back the print in the sepia bleach very slightly and toned as per the first print. After a thorough wash, this was then toned in the same selenium toner as the above for around 5 mins.
So it’s definitely a toss up between the straight selenium print or the sepia/selenium split. On a screen the split toned one for sure it has the most impact but I have the feeling the selenium toned print with its understated feel will look better behind a frame over time.
Overall, I’m feeling pretty inspired with the possibilities offered by toning darkroom prints – I really encourage darkroom printers to try it out it for themselves and see where it takes them!