04 Aug 2020

Toning Kallitype Prints

Kallitypes is an alternative photographic process in the same family as platinum/palladium prints. In Kallitypes, we use silver and iron-based compounds to form the final image. However, because in time, silver can rust or react to air, Kallitypes prints are initially not nearly as permanent. We need a toning step to address this.

Toning is a bit of a misnomer in alternative printing. We immediately think that when we tone an image, we are adding colour to it. But instead, the chemical process works by replacing the metals by more noble counterparts. A more noble metal is less reactive to the elements, and thus more stable. In the case of Kallitypes, Gold chloride and Palladium toners are common; unlike silver, these noble metals won’t oxidise or fade, and the permanence of the print is greatly enhanced.

But the toning process does also change the colour of our images. And we can use this for artistic purposes; to give prints a type of “mood”. The results can be rather attractive.

I would like to share this series of tests I recorded in the video below, to showcase the different steps and effects of the toning process in Kallitypes. This can be a relatively mercurial step, and sometimes that’s good, sometimes not so much. But I think there’s great potential, here.

Apologies for the vertical video — this was originally shared on Instagram.


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