In addition to sepia toning, there are other historical processes an image could’ve undergone. Selenium, copper, iron and gold toning processes, all of which replace the metallic silver in a print with other metals, all exist and each changes the look and feel of an image. Iron will make an image look blue, copper, will give it a more reddish hue and all the other toning processes each have their own unique signatures.
On top of that, in this, the age of Instagram, we all know you can add all kinds of digital filters to change the look and feel of an image.
Filters can make the images look similar to what many of those toners did in the analog age or make the colors fade and look as if the color print were made in the 1970’s or on Polaroid film.
What you choose to do to the image after it’s captured is a mater of artistic choice.
For most of my artistic work, I’ve tried to stay true to my background as a photojournalist and avoid too much manipulation of the image.
I like to be able to assure those who view my work that what I show them in a print is a very close approximation to what the camera actually saw. Not some sort of digital manipulation of what a camera might have captured.
I want to portray reality. That, I feel, is one of the most significant aspects of the art form of photography. It is reality, as it was, if for only a split second. Capturing reality and then sharing the emotion of the moment, the feeling of a brief point in time, that is the challenge to the photographer.
So, for me, the choice really is just black and white or color. Maybe sepia. But definitely not much more than that.