Striving for Tonality.

Last month I made this photo of a tram near its terminus in Basel, Switzerland.

To achieve deeper tones, I’ve adjusted my photographic process, shortening the development time, then boosting highlights by toning the negatives after development.

Working with my Nikon N90S with f2.0 35mm lens, I exposed a roll of Ilford HP5, rating it at 320 ISO. I processed the film in Agfa (formula) Rodinal Special (mixed 1-30 with water) for 3 minutes 25 seconds at 68 degrees F.

By design, this resulted in acceptable negatives, slightly on thin (light) side. Then, after fixing (two stage) and a thorough 10 minute rinse, I toned the negatives in selenium (using a 1-9 mix) for nine minutes with regular agitation.

Selenium toner is poisonous, so I wear latex gloves and perform the toning outside to avoid breathing the fumes, and pre-rinse the film prior to bringing it back inside.

Toning the negatives in this way boosts the highlights, giving the images a slightly silvery glow, while improving archival stability.

For this photo, I made some additional changes in post processing.

After scanning, I imported the file to Lightroom, and digitally lowered the contrast and highlight density of the sky-area in the top 1/3 of the frame.

My intent was to produce an image with a darker moody tonality and glistening highlights. I wonder if this will translate to the internet well?


Agfa Rodinal Special and selenium toners can be purchased from Freestyle in California, (see:


Tracking the Light posts daily.

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