The film photography & darkroom work of David Kirby

Iceland Project Launch & Website Updates

Greetings friends!

Yes, what better way to start this long-time-coming post than with an over-friendly salutation.  The time has come at last for me to share my Iceland project with you all - justification enough for such a vigorous introduction.

It's taken a long time (mostly due to some laziness on my part) but the Iceland prints are now all finally finished, digitised and up for display on my galleries page.  The project is (oh so deeply) entitled A Silent Play in the Shadow of Power and consists of 30 landscape images from across the island.  It would be great to get feedback from you all if you feel inclined to have a look through the gallery and have any thoughts you'd like to pass on.  At some point in the future I will do a few "behind the print" articles about some of my favourite images from the gallery so you can see how I made them; you never know, you may pick up a few ideas.

In other news, the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed a few website updates that have gone live.  A few tweaks to the layout here and there to freshen it up a bit.  The main change is a new cover page which you should have landed on when you hit  This page is a cover advertising the new Iceland gallery with a link to take you there and some changing images from the gallery in the background - I think it looks quite good if i'm honest!

The other tweak to the website is a new page entitled "print sales" - a fairly self-explanatory title.  The page contains a form where you can inquire about purchasing a print of one (or more if you're keen) of my images, printed and finished by me in my darkroom.  If you are interested just fill in the form to make contact and we will get the ball rolling.

That's about it for now.  I am going to relax a little and spend some time networking to see if I can get the project published somewhere on some websites or in some magazines (a long shot but one must try).  After that I have some toning tutorials to write up and share and lots of negatives from Scotland and Canada to get to work on - a printers work is never done!

Thanks for taking the time to read this and looking at my new gallery.

Until next time, happy printing!

How To: Tone a Print - Sepia - Part III - Next Steps

In Part I of my sepia toning tutorial we discussed the basics of sepia toning, and then in Part II we went on to look at the split toning technique.  In this third part of my sepia toning tutorial I would like to discuss a few further steps which can be taken before I pack you a bag, pat you on the back and send you off into the wilderness of sepia toning alone for your own adventures.


This is a interesting technique and gives you some extra control over your final tone colour.  You don't need any extra equipment or materials to do it and so it is a nice extra feather in your sepia toning cap.

When we think about the sepia toning process we understand that only when the print is in the print toning solution do we see a visible change to the print tone.  However, the toning bath can also be used to effect the print before t is bleached, albeit without visible results.

To pre-sulphide a print you simply add the print to the toning bath for a chosen period of time, then pull it, wash and go on to tone as usual.  The result is a much cooler sepia tone to your print when compared to a standard toned print.  This technique can be applied to a fully bleached and toned print as well as a split print.  With a fully toned print you should notice that both the shadows and the highlights of the print have adopted the cooler sepia tone but that the midtones remain grey (this is most prominent when used on a warmtone paper processed in a warmtone developer).

One thing you will notice with a pre-sulphided print is that the bleaching process is now much, much slower than usual.  To compensate for this you could try to use a stronger bleach solution than usual. 

Below is a print which has been pre-sulphided in the toning bath for 15 seconds then fully bleached and sepia toned.

Pre-sulphided for 15s then fully bleached and toned.

Now let's compare this with a print which has been fully bleached and toned as normal and see if there is a difference.

Top:  Fully bleached and tones.

Bottom: Pre-sulphided for 15s then fully bleached and toned.

As you can see from comparing the images above the pre-sulphided print has a much cooler overall sepia tone, which is especially noticeable in the near shore area of the print.  Personally, I think it gives the print a much greater sense of depth when compared to the standard fully bleached and toned print.

Below is the same image which has been pre-sulphided for 15 seconds but split toned.

Pre-sulphided for 15s then split toned.

As you can see from this print the shadow and mid tonality has been maintained via the split toning, and the pre-sulphiding has imparted a cooler sepia tone to the high midtones and highlights.  Compare this to the original sepia toned prints and you can see a striking difference!

Additional Steps

As well as pre-sulhiding there are a few more steps which can be taken if you are wanting to experiment further.

  • Pre-Developing - to pre-develop simply place your print into heavily diluted (around one tenth usual strength) print developer between the bleaching and toning steps.  As soon as you start to notice the print beginning to redevelop transfer the print to the toning bath.  As the toning continues the shadow tones will redevelop with a much cooler tone and appear "stronger".  One thing to note is that this will contaminate your toning bath with developer so if you are toning other prints during your session without pre-developing then tone your pre-developed prints last or mix up a separate batch of toner.  As always paper/developer choice and duration of the pre-developing stage will dictate your final results.
  • Triple Band Toning - for this process you simply need to follow the steps involved with split toning.  However, bleach for a shorter time and tone as normal.  After a thorough wash bleach again.  The parts of the image already toned will not respond to the bleach and the lower tones will bleach back.  After the usual wash the print is placed into the toning bath, this time with a different additive strength than the previous toning stage (meaning that the print has effectively been pre-sulphided by the first toning bath).  This results in a duotone sepia colour to the toned areas and the usual shadow/midtones in the unbleahed areas.
  • Reverse Split Toning - develop your print as normal, then bleach as you would for full sepia toning.  Use a more dilute developer than normal and partially redevelop the print.  As the development will be much slower than usual you can observe the print as it redevelops and snatch it from the developer once the highlight and midtones have redeveloped but the shadow tones have not.  Now, simply wash and tone as usual.  The shadow tones will take on the sepia colour whilst the midtones and highlights will retain their tonlity.

Final Comments

And that is all I have to say about sepia toning.  I hope you have found these articles helpful and that you now have a few ideas for yor prints and some new techniques to play with.  Next up in my toning tutorial series will be my favourite toner - selenium.

Until next time, happy printing!


Yesterday presented somewhat of a personal milestone.  In the absence of Mrs. Kirby (who was away for the weekend) I made great advances in my weekend goals of slobbing, feasting, socialising and, of course, printing.

Bravely did I endure the searing heat of the darkroom in an uncharacteristically hot English spring day (an Englishman should not have to tolerate temperatures in excess of 20 celsius).  Boldly did I mix up fresh batches of developer, stop bath and fixer.  Serenely did I wave my hands to and fro over paper, both blocking and adding light.  Patiently did I endure the crippling processing times for fibre-based paper.  Until, many hours later, I triumphantly emerged from my shed like a butterfly from the chrysalis, clutching seven new prints in my chemical-splattered hands.

These seven prints represent somewhat of a milestone for me because they are the last of my Iceland prints.  A couple of reprints and the last of the new negatives and now, at long last, all my printing is done (bar a few reprints which may be required should I mess up on the finishing).  Thanks to the lighter evenings we are ahving these days I was able to do my toning yesterday too, and as you read this the prints are drying in my bathroom ready for a final review upon my return home from work.  I must confess to being rather happy to have reached this stage; it’s been a lot of work in the darkroom and I’ve had to deal with some really tricky negatives, so it’s nice to have that little sense of achievement in knowing that the end is in sight.

Alas I now face a path far darker and more perilous than that which leads through the Mines of Moria, the considerable task of scanning the prints.  I hate scanning, that’s no secret; but I’m hoping that I will be able to get the scans done well enough to present a decent-looking gallery of images on this site for you all to look through.  All being well I will be able to get my monitor calibration issues sorted, get the scans done and have the gallery uploaded in the next few months.

I’m really looking forward to hearing all of your feedback on the project, both good and bad.  It’s nice to be able to look forward to having a new body of work up on here and to be able to (hopefully) start getting a print sales section of the website up and running should anyone wish to own a print.

That’s about all I have to report on the progress of my Iceland project for now.  In other news I will have part 3 of my sepia toning tutorial uploaded in the next week or so for any of you who have been following that series, to be followed by the next toner in the series at an as-yet-to-be-determined date, most likely this will be selenium.

Wherever you are I hope that whatever you are working on is going well and that 2017 has been kind to you so far.

Farewell for now and, until my next update, happy printing.