The Platinum Printing Process was developed in England during the nineteenth century. A suitable 100% cotton rag paper is hand coated with a solution containing platinum and/or palladium salts and an iron oxalate sensitizer. After drying the coated paper in heated air, it is exposed with a photographic negative to intense ultraviolet light, which causes a reduction of the platinum or palladium salts to pure metal. The light required is approximately one million times that needed for traditional black and white or color photography. This intensity of light cannot be projected through an enlarger. The negative must be placed directly on to the paper as a contact print. Therefore, the size of the printed image is determined by the size or format of the negative. After clearing to remove the remaining salts, the final print consists of pure platinum (Pt) and palladium (Pd) metallic fragments laid on to and embedded within the paper. The process used today is virtually unchanged from that first patented in 1873.
Because the print was determined by the negative size, the most common method was to use a camera, which produced a negative the size of the final print. This was used most frequently throughout the history of platinum/palladium print. I use view cameras of various sizes from 1980 to 2004. Reproductions of selected prints can be found in Archives section of this site.
Options included to in-camera film included various methods of photo-mechanical enlargement. In the 1990’s, pioneering work was done using digital techniques. Most common was the use of an image-setter, an in-house mechanism designed to expose film to a digital file. Dan Burkholder followed with the first method to use a common ink jet printer. A form of transparent material coated with an ink-holding surface was needed. This was eventually solved with the use of Pictorico and similar substrates originally used for overhead projection.
Mark Nelson, in 2000 defined the intricacies possible to the custom making of negatives allowing the photographer complete control of the process from digital capture to the final print. This is the method I use.
Those familiar with my work may notice a stylistic change in vision. I consider palladium prints made from film and those from digital techniques to be distinctly different media. Therefore, I adjusted my vision to accommodate those different characteristics. The print size is approximately 8 x 10.5 inches printed on 11 x 14-inch platinum rag paper. Larger sizes are available.
In 2004 I published the second edition of Platinum & Palladium Printing. Since then, the making of digitally-generated negatives for Pt/Pd printing has gained in popularity. Subsequently, I have also published PDF editions of an Addendum covering these techniques. I have recently revised and expanded Addendum 2021 to 85 pages.
Featured Palladium Prints Made from Digitally-generated Negatives
The City of Venice, and the cities and villages surrounding it, within a radius of approximately 75 kilometers, represent a region culturally distinct from the rest of Italy is known as The Veneto or Venetian Arc. It is here that medieval history and legends were born, from Venice to the ancient university at Padua, to Shakespeare’s Verona, and Palladio’s Vincenza. One can attend the street markets of Bassano del Grappa and the famous living chess board of Marostica. My late wife, Lucia Gillard and I began work in Venice February 2010-2011. Her work is featured in the Book section of my site Venice in Winter. Following her death in 2011, I continued, expanding to the Veneto area surrounding Venice. While there until 2014, I received considerable assistance and encouragement from the very active photographic community, coming from all the cities I visited. My complete portfolio of images can be seen by clicking the Venice link below.
Two-Day Private Workshops
at my home and studio in Flagstaff, Az. For intermediate and advanced photographers covering the making and printing of digitally-generated negatives. Requirements are a working knowledge of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop and the purchase of Mark Nelson’s Curve Calculator III. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.