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How to Use Toners in the Darkroom

Benjamin Perlin

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Photographer Benjamin (Ben) Perlin takes pride in his work with the many elements of the photography process. Benjamin Perlin likes to work with traditional film cameras, and has a talent for darkroom development.

Darkroom development uses many types of toners to affect the final image. Toner can improve the permanence of an image, and creates significant color changes in shadowy areas. While dyes can achieve similar effects, toners bond directly with the silver of a print, which makes them more effective at stabilizing a photograph. Some items sold as toners work more like dyes, so developers should research what they buy.
Toners help most in cases where a print will face regular exposure to potential fading or contaminating agents. Environmental factors such as dust and regular exposure to sunlight will damage a picture more rapidly if it lacks a toner.
If using toner to augment an image's color, rather than its durability, frisket allows developers to add those tones to only the desired area. For instance, if one wants to add depth to a winter scene with iron blue toner without losing warmth in buildings or other areas, a coat of frisket over the buildings will preserve the warmer, less blue tones.