Sepia toning black and white photographs (Traditional method)

Con­ven­tional ton­ing of pho­tographs is done by soak­ing the actual pho­to­graph (printed on black and white sil­ver based photo paper) in a ton­ing solu­tion. This ton­ing solu­tion can come in a mul­ti­tude of shades, allow­ing for beau­ti­ful mono­chrome pho­tographs. One of the most pop­u­lar colours for ton­ing is sepia. Sepia ton­ing gives black and white pho­tographs an antique light brown­ish look. It is made by sev­eral man­u­fac­tur­ers but Kodak Sepia toner is the most pop­u­lar (and the one we are refer­ring to in this arti­cle). This prod­uct con­tains 2 parts: a bleach­ing solu­tion and a ton­ing solution.

Black and white photograph

Same photo after being sepia toned

All you need to sepia tone one of your pho­tographs is:

1) Kodak sepia toner-available at most pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phy stores.
2) An actual pho­to­graph printed on black and white paper. If you don’t have one, take an old black and white neg­a­tive to a photo lab. Have them print a copy on black and white paper. Or shoot a roll of black and white film and have the lab print in on b&w paper.
3) Three Plas­tic trays( 12x15 inches to accom­mo­date 11x14 inch paper, a stan­dard size that’s not too expensive).Two of the plas­tic trays are for the ton­ing solu­tions, the other is for rins­ing the prints after each solu­tion. It’s always best to wear rub­ber gloves when ton­ing, espe­cially if your skin is sen­si­tive.
4)A well ven­ti­lated area in which to work which also has run­ning water.
5) Two 1 liter con­tain­ers to mix and store the chem­i­cals.
6) Three tongs (obtained from most pro­fes­sional photo stores) used to manip­u­late the prints.
7)A squeegee to wipe the print clean and a place to hang the fin­ished print to dry.

Please fol­low all direc­tions that come with the Kodak Sepia Toner.

Kodak sepia toner comes in two parts. Part A is the bleach that you mix with water. Part B is the toner that you mix with water.
Basi­cally though the drill goes like this. You will need to set up 3 trays. The first tray is for the bleach that you mixed, the sec­ond is for water, the third is for the toner that you mixed. It is the toner that gives the bleached print its brown­ish tone.

Just take a print, dunk it in the bleach, wash it, dunk it in the toner then wash it and dry it.…that’s it. Each photo will pass through the first three steps in under 10 min­utes. It must then be washed (either alone or with other prints) for about 30 minutes.

Tip1: Bleach­ing time, print con­trast and choice of paper deter­mine how deep the sepia tones will be. Longer bleach­ing times mean deeper sepia tones.

Tip2: IN GENERAL — The toner works the most on the mid tones (gray­ish areas) of the pho­to­graph. It does not affect the black areas too much. It makes the high­lights (white areas) go a bit whiter. That said, it is good prac­tice to tone prints that have been printed bit flat­ter (have less con­trast) than nor­mal. The whitest tones in par­tic­u­lar should be printed a bit darker ( 5–10% )to avoid washed out whites after the pho­to­graph is toned.