Platinum and Palladium Printing
The photographic images represented here are from direct digital capture, with Leica cameras using prime lenses with a monopod. Dick’s first publication using this format was Italy Through Another Lens.
Dick’s interest in cathedral photography is based on the work of Frederick Evans (1853-1943), a British photographer, who photographed English and French cathedrals using the platinum process. Dick began in 1980 to follow his footsteps using 8×10 and 12×20 inch cameras to photograph select English cathedrals, also making platinum prints.
Since Evans’ time, at the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth centuries, monochromatic photography in the dim interiors of cathedrals required the use of a tripod for long exposures. Many times, this cumbersome equipment interfered with other visitors and cathedral services. Most recently, however, ultra-fast lenses of smaller cameras allowed the tripod to be replaced by the hand-held camera or mounted on a monopod. With proper decorum and respect for the functions of a cathedral, the photographer can literally melt into the shadows.
For Dick, this represented an opportunity for a new approach to this time-honored endeavor. He works with a historical Leica f/1.4 lenses noted for its soft focus and flare effects, many times simulating the lenses used 100 or more years ago.
Dick also began to rethink of other changes that have occurred in cathedral photography since the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth centuries. Much of this is due with modern electric lighting not present during Evans’ time. Before electricity, there were centuries of candle light. At the time the cathedrals were built in the 14th Century (and before) to the late 19th, the interiors were viewed only from the light coming in from the windows, supplemented by soft candle light. This gave a monochromatic display of brightly lit windows in contrast to subdued light and shadows in the interior. Colors, if present, were muted.
To Dick, the presence of artificial light dilutes the effect of the shadows. Some cases areas are so brightly lit as to create a stage setting. While the electric lights can be obtrusive, most are easy to avoid. Dick uses only the light from, and dispersed from the windows.
For the aspect of religious service, it is a time of rest and reflection. Under such low-light conditions the iris of the eye is dilated. This even more softens the view. This reinforces the choice of the dilated and flared effect of his lens used at maximum aperture.
The images shown are available as Palladium prints, measuring approximately 8 x 10.5 inches, printed on 11×14 and 12 x 16 inches printed on 16 x 22 inch Hahnemuhle Rag Platinum Paper. Please contact us for prices.
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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.