Kids can fall asleep almost anywhere. There’s a funny story associated with this photo. My wife has been caring for our granddaughters, while their parents are off earning a living, each weekday for almost 12 years now, and until the twins were born last year, the girls would come to our house.
One day, a few summers back, my wife came running upstairs to tell me that Julia fell asleep in the living room and I had to come down to look. Naturally I brought my camera with me. You can’t see Julia’s legs in this close up but they never made it onto the sofa that day. She must have been asleep on her feet and when she got to the sofa simply collapsed, half on and half off. She certainly looks peaceful here. If I remember correctly, we rearranged Julia after I took a few photos.
I thought this found portrait would be a perfect candidate for the warmth of sepia. I’m glad I always keep at least one of my cameras loaded with film. You never know when the moment will arrive and you must be ready. This photo is a few years old and I can’t remember which of my Nikon bodies I used. I think the lens was my 35mm. The film was Ilford FP4+ that I developed and scanned myself.
I fooled around with sepia tinting a few years ago, but it’s just in the last week or so that I’ve gotten interested again. I’ve been refreshing my memory with the how to and the why. I’m planning on writing a tutorial (maybe more than one) outlining the steps I take to arrive at my finished sepia toned photos.
Sepia toning, in fact all toning, originated in the world of black and white wet printing in the traditional wet darkroom. Toning serves two purposes, archival permanence and aesthetics. The image in a straight B&W print is made up of metallic silver. This form of silver is susceptible to fading and discoloring at the hands of atmospheric chemicals. Toning converts the metallic silver into a more stable form.
According to Roger Hicks and Frances Schultz in their “The Black & White Handbook,” the most common sepia toning methods convert the metallic silver to silver sulphide.
The color changes inherent in the toning process are a by product of the chemical changes. Photographers and master printers have come up with many different ways to tone prints. All extend the life of the print and each different method has it’s own aesthetic.
I would never consider wet chemistry toning because the chemistry is highly toxic. We’re fortunate that we can emulate the aesthetics digitally with none of the nasty environmental hazards.
I’ll explain more when I write the tutorial(s), but it’s important to understand that for a successful sepia toned photo, you should always begin with a good black and white image. I’ve always liked the B&W portrait of Julia sleeping, but the warmer sepia version takes it a notch higher.
PS — Be sure to visit MaryT’s Sepia Scenes for more sepia photos.