So, polysulfide toner does... nothing?

For color or permanence.

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tim.bowman
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So, polysulfide toner does... nothing?

Post by tim.bowman » Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:59 am

I've tried Formulary's polysulfide toner twice now on Fomatone, with no change in image tone. Well, that's not precisely true. The first time I saw, or thought I saw, a nearly impreceptible move toward red compared to the untoned print. The second time, I got an ever-so-slight-but-possibly-imaginary cooling.

I'm putting well-washed, wet prints in at room temperature for up to 20 minutes. Am I doing it wrong? I thought it was supposed to change the image tone as it turns the silver into silver sulfide.

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sanchell
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Re: So, polysulfide toner does... nothing?

Post by sanchell » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:10 pm

Polysulfide does ... something, but it depends on the process and materials. For example, Alexandra Opie, the head of photography at Willamette University, uses polysulfide as an integral part of her tintype process. Alexandra's tintypes are about the best I have ever seen.

As far as paper, the issue almost always has to do with the amount of hardener in the emulsion. All papers have some hardener, it's part of what makes the emulsion stick to the paper. But with the advent of machine processing, the amount of hardener was increased to prevent surface scratches at high temperatures and fast processing times.

While excess hardener is good for machine processing it is anathema for the fine art photographer who wants to tone. For a long time Foma had a great reputation as a paper that toned and bleached easily. In fact, it was Bruce Barnbaum's paper of choice for many years (if I remember correctly). I don't recall all the history, but at some point the company restructured or went Chapter 11. When they came back they had increased the amount of hardener in the emulsion and from what I have heard it responds more like over-hardened Ilford (and formerly Kodak and Agfa) papers. In other words, hardly at all.

I would try Adox papers and see how they do.
Do it in the Dark,

Steve Anchell

tim.bowman
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Re: So, polysulfide toner does... nothing?

Post by tim.bowman » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:17 am

Ah, so I'm not losing my mind! Why on earth would anyone want to machine process fiber-based paper?!

I have a 5-pack of Adox MCC 110, I'll give that a try.

I've been curious about Opie's silver mirroring technique, but it's completely invisible in online photos of her work. Maybe one day I'll run into a physical copy any be able to marvel at her ingenuity.

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sanchell
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Re: So, polysulfide toner does... nothing?

Post by sanchell » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:17 am

It came as a surprise to me when I first learned how much money, worldwide, was in machine processing of FB prints. Agfa, Ilford, and Kodak were cutting each others throats to win the largest share. The rise of RC was a direct result of the MP industry. FB sales to machine labs paled by comparison but in order to get business each of the three had to offer both RC and FB (the goal was to get labs to carry one brand of paper).

In fact, it was the demise of machine processing, largely due to digital, that put Agfa out of business and Kodak out of the paper market, leaving what little remains, relative to its heyday, to Ilford.
Do it in the Dark,

Steve Anchell

tim.bowman
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Re: So, polysulfide toner does... nothing?

Post by tim.bowman » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:38 am

I suppose it makes sense that manufacturers are coating the same emulsion on both RC and FB. I hadn't made the connection myself.

I love this forum for the collection of first-hand knowledge in all of your heads. Seems like every other place for chemical photography on the web is a collection of folks talking about things they've read about but not done themselves.

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