CYANOTYPE TONING

by Steven Berkowitz

There are three types of chemicals that affect Cyanotype prints.
These chemicals can be used singly.
One approach is the bleach the color out of a dark print.
Another is to intensify the color of a normal print.
A third is to alter the color of a print. And then there are a slew of combinations.

With Silver prints a common practice is to bleach the color out of the silver and then re-develop the print in either Sepia or another Developer. This same technique can be done by combining a bleaching step with a toner step. The most common combo for Cyanotype is Sodium Carbonate and Tannic Acid.
Many of these recipes can be used in either direction, or repeatedly back and forth, each time producing a different tone. And each time you print, different tones may result.

Reducers – act as bleaches, degrading the blue color in the print
Sodium Carbonate, Ammonia, Clorox, TSP, Borax, Dektol …

Intensifiers – deepen the color of the print
Hydrogen Peroxide, Citric Acid, Lemon Juice, Vinegar…

Toners – change the color of the iron in the print
Tannic Acid, Oolong Tea, Wine, Cat Urine, Pyrogallic Acid…

General Considerations:
Overexpose prints to be toned by at least one stop (until the highlights are gray).
Prints should cure at least one day after printing.
Soak the prints in distilled water before you start toning.
Do a final wash for 10 ~ 15 minutes in running water at the end.
Replace the chemicals as soon as they start to get dark (maybe 15 prints per tray).
Always rinse between chemicals to increase toner life by about 5 prints per tray.
Always add chemicals to water, not the other way around.

Recipes :
Yellow – Blue Split Toner  Sodium Carbonate Household Bleach or TSP [reduction]
tray 1 – distilled water – soak for 5 minutes until thoroughly soaked
tray 2 – 1 pinch of Sodium Carbonate in 1 quart distilled water
immerse for less than a minute – the print will begin to degrade if left too long
tray 3 – distilled water
pull the print quickly from the Sodium Carbonate and watch the split
final wash – 10 ~ 15 minutes in running water
note: TSP (Tri sodium Phosphate) commercial cleaner can make a yellow & white print
note: Clorox household bleach can remove Cyanotype completely from parts of a print.

Deep Blue Toner – Hydrogen Peroxide [intensification]
tray 1 – distilled water – soak for 5 minutes until thoroughly soaked
tray 2 – 5 tsp. Hydrogen Peroxide (or vinegar, lemon juice [acidic]) in 1 quart. of distilled water
agitate the print until darkening stops (several minutes)
final wash – 10 ~ 15 minutes in running water
note: this chemical simply accelerates the oxidation process that will occur anyway as the print dries.

CYANOTYPE TONING – redevelopment

Red–Brown Toner Tannic Acid > Sodium Carbonate
tray 1 – distilled water
soak for 5 minutes until thoroughly soaked
tray 2 – 9 grams Tannic Acid in 1 quart of distilled water [or Oolong Cha (tea)]
agitate the print 30 seconds to 5 minutes
you will not see a color change until you put the print into the Sodium Carbonate!
tray 3 – distilled water – wash for 5 minutes
tray 4 – 1.5 tsp. (4.5 grams) Sodium Carbonate (Washing Soda) in 1 quart. of distilled water
agitate the print until the desired color is reached
optional – 5 tsp. Hydrogen Peroxide in 1 quart of distilled water
agitate the print to intensify the color
final wash – 10 ~ 15 minutes in running water

You can go back-and-forth with this, each time getting a different tone!

Eggplant–Black Toner Sodium Carbonate > Tannic Acid > (Sodium Carbonate)
note: you can do the above in reverse order for a different effect,
Soak the print, put it Sodium Carbonate very briefly until it starts to bleach then transfer to the wash tray and watch it bleach (note: Sodium Carbonate will continue to bleach even after it is put in to a wash tray!), put it in Tannic Acid until you get the desired tone, (optional) return the print to the Sodium Carbonate for a few seconds, final wash for 10 minutes.
You can go back-and-forth here also, getting a different tone each time!

Purple–Brown Toner Ammonia > Tannic Acid > (Sodium Carbonate)
tray 1 – distilled water
soak for 5 minutes until thoroughly soaked
tray 2 – 21 ml Ammonia in 1 quart of distilled water (acts as a bleach)
agitate the print until highlights bleach and shadows turn purple
tray 3 – distilled water
wash for 10 – 15 minutes
tray 4 – 3 grams Tannic Acid in 1 quart of distilled water [(or Oolong Cha (tea)]
agitate the print until the desired color is reached
optional – 1.5 tsp. Sodium Carbonate in 1 quart of distilled water until reaching a red-brown tone
final wash – 10 ~ 15 minutes in running water
You can also do the back-and-forth processing with this recipe.

CYANOTYPE TONING – color change

Violet Toner Pyrogallic Acid > Hydrogen Peroxide
tray 1 – distilled water
soak for 5 minutes until thoroughly soaked
tray 2 – 5 tsp. (10 g.) Pyrogallic Acid in 1 quart of distilled water
agitate the print until the desired color is reached
tray 3 – distilled water – wash for 30 seconds
tray 4 – 4 tsp. Hydrogen Peroxide in 1 quart of distilled water
agitate the print to intensify the color
final wash – 10 ~ 15 minutes in running water
You can also do the back-and-forth processing with this recipe.
note: this toner is greatly affected by water quality, humidity and type of paper used. It does not always work!
note: Tannic Acid and Gallic Acid have a similar effect, because Gallic Acid is anhydrous Tannic Acid (without water).

Eggplant–Red–Black Toner Dektol > Tannic Acid > (Dektol)
tray 1 – distilled water
soak for 5 minutes until thoroughly soaked
tray 2 – Dektol mixed straight from the Vat (or other hard developer)
agitate until a goldenrod color is reached
tray 3 – distilled water – wash for several minutes
tray 4 – Tannic Acid or hot Oolong Tea
agitate until a smokey black color is reached
final wash – 10 ~ 15 minutes in running water
optional – Dektol or Ammonia solution, followed by another 15 minutes final wash

Brown–Green Toner Dektol > Selenium
tray 1 – distilled water
soak for 5 minutes until thoroughly soaked
tray 2 – Dektol mixed straight from the Vat (or other hard developer)
agitate until a goldenrod color is reached
tray 3 – distilled water – wash for at least 1 minute
tray 4 – Selenium diluted 1 : 3 or more from the Vat
agitate until the desired color is reached, but not too long
be careful because Selenium contains Potassium Fericyanide, a bleach
final wash – 10 ~ 15 minutes in running water
You can also do the back-and-forth processing with this recipe.

Speckle Toning
Splash water across the surface of the print before immersing in water developing bath
Splash Dektol across the surface of the print while toning to make dark speckles

RESSOURCES
This information is garnered from several sources:
Photo-Imaging: A Complete Guide to Alternative Processes by Jill Enfield
Amphoto Books (October 2002)
ISBN: 0817453997

The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes – by Christopher James
Publisher: Thomson Delmar Learning; 1st Edition (June 2001)
ISBN: 0766820777

The Photographer’s Toning Book: The Definitive Guide by Tim Rudman
Amphoto Books (April 2003)
ISBN: 0817454659

and lots of studio experiments…