Platinum and Palladium Printing

Telephone, Isle of Harris, Scotland ©Dick Arentz 2011

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.

Featured Palladium Prints Made from Digitally-generated Negatives 


Fascinated by the minimalism of the landscape, I have been working in Scotland and the Scottish Isles for 42 years. Quite clearly it has been my favorite place for landscape photography. It began by using film in 1977. I continued in that medium until 2005. Some of these images can be seen in my book, The British Isles.

In 2005, I began anew with digital cameras. Having a portable method to capture images, my vision changed somewhat. I have been able to combine the immediacy of the moment with the time-honored contemplative process of view camera photography.

I concentrated on the many isles, divided the project into three sections: The Northern IslesThe Inner Hebrides, and The Western Isles (The Outer Hebrides). More recently I returned to the Scottish mainland. Next year in 2021, at the age of 86, I will continue my odyssey, following where my eye takes me.

The Isle of Harris


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

Recent Work & Current Projects

Contact Information

Dick Arentz
1640 N. Spyglass Way
Flagstaff, AZ 86004-7382

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Dick Arentz is a professional photographer, and retired University professor, who specializes in the platinum and palladium printing process. He has conducted over forty platinum printing workshops and has had over seventy one-man exhibits. His work is represented in public and private collections, including the New York and San Francisco Museums of Modern Art.

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