Platinum and Palladium Printing

Wells Cathedral

One of the more iconic platinum prints was Wells Cathedral, Steps to Chapter House, done by Frederick Evans (1853-1943) in 1903. He used a full-frame view camera (approximately 8 x 10 inches) To make the glass negative. It has been referred to as “The Sea of Steps”, which shows the wear on the steps caused by walkers over almost five-hundred years. He was a London bookseller and a friend of G. B. Shaw, who himself was an avid amateur photographer. It is said that Shaw interested Evans in photography, to the point where he sold his store a took up photography as a profession.

Wells Cathedral Frederick Evans 1903

In 1990, I returned with my 12 x 20 inch Folmar Schwing 12 x 20-inch camera. We backed it into the corner and, with some difficulty, we tilted to the vertical position. It involved the use of monopod extension. I decided on my 12-inch Gold-Dot Dagor as the lens to use. At an aperture of f/45 it shows a bit of vignetting. We calculated the exposure to be five minutes. It was a Sunday afternoon, so people were constantly on the stairs. We used a nineteenth-century technique of periodically blocking the lens with a lens cap. When anyone stopped in the field of view, I capped the lend and my assistance stopped the timer. When people moved briskly, I removed the cap. They did not register on the film… except on one case. I printed it in palladium and titled it: “Homage to F. Evans”.

Look carefully at the detail and you can see a blur of a person. Once, my Chicago dealer was showing the print to a client. He objected to the blur. The dealer asked what it was. I said that it was the “Ghost of Frederick Evans”.

Wells Cathedral Dick Arentz 1990
Wells Cathedral Detail

 

 

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

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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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