Saturday, July 25, 2009

Today I tried Sepia toning. I'd observed this in a class once at Newspace but never tried it myself. Finally decided to see what it could do for my prints. I was pleased with the results.

The first step is to take a wet print and place it in a photographic bleach bath. The bleach starts immediately to bleach the "lightest" portions of the print first. Turning zones 9 where there is just the slightest hint of exposure, to zone 10, no exposure or paper base. The longer the print remains in the bleach all of these mid tones vanish. I guess if you left the print in the bleach long enough all of the silver in the print would be converted and the image would "disappear". It doesn't really disappear but the silver compounds that make up the grays and blacks in the print will come back as sepia or brown shades when the print is placed in the toning bath after all of the bleach has been rinsed off of the print.
I was frustrated a bit by the bleaching process when working on my Magnolia prints where large portions of the print, the white petals of the flowers, I print out in zones 8 and 9. If left in the bleach too long it seemed these zones of slight exposure, 8 and 9 were eliminated in the sepia toned print and I lose the details in that portion of the print. Perhaps I needed to leave the prints in the toning bath longer, or in the bleach bath shorter, or print a little darker if my intention is to eventually sepia tone the print. The bleach bath has to be hosed off the print rather then placing the print in a tray of running water. I found it best to put the bleached print in to an empty tray and turning the tray on its side with the damp print stuck to the bottom of the tray and using a bit of rubber hosing attached to my water faucet to wash away all the bleach as quickly as possible. The bleaching process continues as long as bleach remains on the print so I had to pull the prints out of the bleach and then hose the prints down quickly. The bleach is a dark yellow and it takes quite a bit of water to flush it totally off of the print.


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