Friday, 8 May 2015


When I was last in the darkroom, which seems like an awfully long time ago now (before Christmas) I was having a lot of fun experimenting with toning - Selenium toning, to be precise.  This process not only makes the image more permanent on the paper, but also increases the blacks (Dmax) as well as giving the print a warmish, almost purple tone and removing the greenish cast that some papers have.  Some papers react better than others - for example, the standard Ilford Multigrade IV doesn't tone well at all, whereas Ilford's Fibre Warmtone paper does.  I've not tried the latter - although I did experiment with Fotospeed's RCVC paper and that did tone very nicely.   As I'm writing this I realise I'm dying to get back to having some fun in the darkroom again...

Here's a shot I snapped the other day.  It's the view I get when I step outside my front door, of the old sheds that in my grandfather's day were part of his butchery business.  The largest barn was where the animals were slaughtered and a very rusty old winch still lives there.  Nowadays, at this time of year, the swallows have a natural perching place on the wire rope.

Our yard, as it looks in Spring
When I scanned this neg I though how nice that would look printed, and either toned or even printed on lith.  Now as you know I'm not a big fan of Photoshop but it is necessary when you are working with digital images, even scans from negs.  So after a little poking around I came found PS's duotone effects.  This was a 'sepia duotone' effect.

Sepia duotone effect

It certainly warms up the original image, although one thing I find with most of the preset tones is that they are much too strong.  These are of course only the presets and with a little more time it might be worth learning how to configure things myself.  I'm just not sure I want to invest that much time and effort into Photoshop though.

There are of course many different toning chemicals available to the traditional darkroom printer, as well as Lith Printing, which I am really looking forward to experimenting with.  This is kind of how I would expect a Lith print to look, again using a preset PS duotone.

Lith effect

I think this photograph works really well in B&W and it might be one of the first I print if I ever get back in the darkroom.  The sink is all but finished - but I'm giving it shed-loads of gloss paint before I apply some yacht varnish, so it's another couple of weeks away from completion.  But it's getting there - honest.  


  1. I really hope you take the time to post a good scan of the darkroom print whenever you got it ready! It's a great photo for sure, and a shame to only stick away somewhere inside a box or something.

  2. This photograph can never be taken again - the tree in the shot has just been taken out (it was rotting) I definitely will be printing this neg and hanging it on my wall (and showing a scan of it on this place :).