Forte Polygrade warmtone split tones in selenium : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

There were some discussions (half a year back or so)on which papers that split tones in a single toner. Well, my brief experiments with Forte Polygrade warmtone indicates that the dark parts of the print tones more rapidly than the light parts. This can leave a print where the shadows are red in tone with the highlights appearing unaffected by the toner (Kodak Rapid Selenium).

Has anyone more seen this and which dilution do you prefer to control the process with this paper?

-- Peter Olsson (, November 07, 2000


For extensive information on this process, called split-toning, see Tim Rudman's The Photographer's Master Printing Course. The effect can be used to great effect. You can even use two toners. I have a great example of a print where I toned the shadows in selenium, converting them to a reddish tone, and the highlights in gold, which made them slightly blueish. As the shadows make up the foreground, and the highlight make up the background, the print has an amazing depth because the effect resembles aerial perspective.

Toners have different characteristics. Selenium eats its way down, coming from the high-density end (i.e. it tones the shadows first). Sepia and gold, OTOH, come from the other end; they tone the highlights first. There is a lot of room for experimentation.

With some toners the sequence is important, too. I think I remember that if you intend to use selenium and gold, you have to use the selenium first. (I can never remember, so I have to look it up in Tim Rudman's book almost each time.) Otherwise, the selenium may undo the gold toning.

My own experiments have mostly been performed with Forte Polywarmtone, not Polygrade. I use Amaloco T50 Selenium toner at 1+9. The gold toner is a ready-to-use solution made by Tetenal, and the sepia bleach and toner are mixed from scratch (ferri/potassium bromide bleach, sodium sulfide toner).

-- Thomas Wollstein (, November 07, 2000.

I have a long term interest in the split-tone effect. Split tones weem to occur more often with warm-tone chloride papers. I come closest to a split with Portriga toned in selenium, and sometimes with Bergger Prestige. The effect can be so subtle as to be almost unnoticeable, but the split always adds depth and three- dimensionality to the print.

I have read an article about split-toning Azo, mixing the toner with Perma-Wash, but I couldn't reproduce the effect when I tried. However, I wonder if the split tone doesn't have something to do with the pH of the print during toning. Perhaps an alkaline fixer would help?

-- Ed Buffaloe (, November 07, 2000.

Hi Ed,

I think whether the fixer is alkaline or not shouldn't make too much of a difference. Considering that 15 s in an acid stop is assumed to be enough to neutralise the alkali from the developer, 15 s in a fairly alkaline toner should suffice to have neutralised the acid from the fixer, and the print usually remains in the toner for much longer than 15 s. Of course the swelling of the gelatin is better in alkaline solutions, so coming from an alkaline fixer, the gelatin is already swollen whereas it might be somewhat harder coming from an acid fixer. This is pure conjecture, but all I would expect from using an alkaline fixer is that the toning occurs faster (assuming all the time that you don't wash between the fixer and the toner, which, personally, I wouldn't want to do.)

One further caveat: I think you are talking about selenium toning only. If you omit washing before a two-step toner, such as sepia, the residual hypo together with the ferri in the bleach will act like Farmer's reducer. And with acid gold toners, omitting the washing is not a good idea after an alkaline fixer. (I don't know how the process reacts to acid fixer residues.)

-- Thomas Wollstein (, November 07, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ