Writings

Share below are a few extracts from Jonathan’s writings

Split-Toning: Background and Historical Antecedents

Split-toning is a generic, somewhat mercurial term used to describe the efforts at tonal splits in the darkroom. From the very beginning of photography, split-effects have been used and has formed a historical precedent for several contemporary practitioners of these processes. The question to be considered is when were these visual effects thought of and attempted? The first of the published works were Olivia Parker’s fascinating book, Signs of Life, in 1978 which now out of print and difficult to find.

Split-Toning: Processes and Procedures

The processes involved in achieving split effects are extremely diverse and constantly change as paper manufacturers keep reformulating their papers. The processes followed by every practitioner also varies: Olivia Parker, for example, printed on Kodak Azo paper and achieved artistic splits with strong, warm selenium. A book was written by Tim Rudman about the benefits of printing with lith developers and split-toning effects which can be achieved. Practitioners like Philip Borges have used special bleaching and toning methods which tones only certain areas while the remaining photograph remains unaffected. Linda Butler has achieved her split-effects as a result of combining Kodak Polytoner and Forte’s Fortezo paper, while Thomas Joshua Cooper uses a gold-based split-process. To conclude there is no thumb rule experimenting with the processes you might be able to create your own unique style.

Mordançage Background and Process Notes

Mordançage is a different name for the historic "etch/bleach" stated in vintage references. Besides, these old references form an excellent reference for tweaking your work of the mordançage process.

The Mordançage Solution

  • 750 ml of water
  • 10 grams - copper chloride
  • 25 to 35 ml - hydrogen peroxide
  • 50 ml - glacial acetic acid water to make one liter

    Method

  • Bleach a well-washed print in the mordançage solution for 3 minutes (make sure to wear gloves and work with good ventilation!), followed by a 15-minute wash.
  • Redevelop the print in any of the following: Dektol at 1:5 Weak or nearly exhausted Dektol Sulfide toner (Part B) - weak, used of full strength Polytoner, Brown toner, or thiourea redeveloper (Whatever else seems worth trying).
  • Rinse the print under running water. Allow the print to dry in the air for 5-10 minutes to oxidize.
  • Back into the mordançage solution - "timed" by inspection. Take a cotton ball and rub the emulsion off of the print - partly or completely - as the image and impulse dictate. You will see at this point that entire sections of emulsion - the darkest areas of the print - are floating in suspension, but still attached to the print. You may wish to rearrange and/or reapply this emulsion area to the print - in the manner of a Polaroid lift.
  • Redevelop or tone the print once again. Use stop bath to halt this action when judged complete. Wash the print for 30 minutes.
  • Screen dry
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