Selenium Staining : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

Hi. Does anyone understand why my RC prints would develop rust colored splotches soon after immersing in selenium/hypo solution? The prints have been washed for 10 min. or so. Any way to get rid of the blush? Tried soaking in peroxide and even Lime-Away. No luck.

-- Ted Davis (, March 09, 2001


How are you fixing them?

-- John Hicks (, March 09, 2001.

I'm fixing them in Nu-Fix concentrate dilution 1:9. Double fix bath then wash in archival tank for 10 minutes, then toner. Could my toner be contaminated? Note: Never have this problem with FB paper, only RC.

-- Ted Davis (, March 10, 2001.

No idea on that one. I presume you're fixing for a minute or so in each bath. Usually staining in selenium toner is an indication of insufficient fixation, so of course be sure your fix is fresh enough.

You might try giving the prints a rinse in distilled water before toning and try mixing the toner with distilled water; if you still get stains that'll rule out water problems.

Also try mixing the toner with HCA rather than plain water.

-- John Hicks (, March 10, 2001.


The term "splotches" isn't a very concise description. If the "splotches" are actually very small spots that are only a couple millimeters in diameter, you could be having a problem with airbells clinging to the print surface during the wash. I had that problem one time myself.

The problem could also be related to the wash. You said that they were washed for 10 minutes in an archival tank. How many changes of water occur during the wash time? To be most effective, there should be 4 or 5 complete changes. Make sure the emulsion side of the prints do not come into contact with the tank dividers. With RC papers, such a thing would create a nearly watertight seal.

When the prints were fixed, were they fixed one at a time? If not, there can be problems with a print emulsion being in contact with another print. I don't know the details of why this can cause stains, but it can happen. If I am processing more than one RC print at a time, I place two of them back to back, never allowing the emulsion sides to come into contact with another surface.

I wouldn't think peroxide could be of any help at all. About the only thing it could do is cause whatever materials the stain consists of to oxidize. This could possibly compound the problem. And I doubt that Lime-Away could accomplish anything either. More than likely, these prints are a write-off, but there are a few books on restoration of old photos that might have some info that could prove useful. Though I can't remember the titles, Kodak has several such publications.

-- Ken Burns (, March 10, 2001.

Thanks for all the imput, I simply reprinted sans toner. Believe it or not, Lime-Away actually lightened the 'splotches', but not enough to hand the prints to a client and then deposit a check and feel good about it. By 'splotches' I'm describing big stains that look like light coffee was spilled on the print. Also seen little dots so I think the air bubble suggestion of Ken's was right on. In my over twenty years of printing this is a new one. The fixer batch was freshly made and prints were processed one at a time, never touching. The toner was mixed with HCA but I must admit the solution is almost a year old. I'll discard and mix new. Wash is good, even generous with lots of agitation. Maybe it's the water quality as John has suggested. Will try distilled. Thanks again!

-- Ted Davis (, March 11, 2001.

I put some balanced alkli in with the toner, some papers are more prone to staining, RC paper is not considered archival really, so an archival wash doesn't mean much. Unless you are just looking for atonal change it might be better to print on fibre for longevity. Cheers Steve

-- Steve Mitchell (, March 16, 2001.

Hey Ted, I pretty much agree with what Ken and Steve are saying. When I tone RC prints, I just go for a regular wash after the fix, and then tone in selenium ( or polytoner), then rewash. No hypo clear for RC. In fact, you probably want to keep the wet time down to a minimum (if you can) with RC, so the chem. doesn't penetrate the edges of the paper (or leave wide borders & trim the edges off). I've had a staining problem with fiber before (long time ago, can't remember the brand of paper), but I solved this as Steve has suggested, by adding Kodalk (balanced alkali), and using a plain hypo bath as the second fix bath... In the winter time, I've had problems with excessive airbells in my washer too, so that can happen as well.

-- DK Thompson (, March 16, 2001.

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