Platinum/palladium prints by Carl Weese
Some things, you just have to see for yourself. In photography, several of the traditional "alternative processes" are best seen in person. This is certainly true of "platinum prints." (The real terms should be platinum/palladium, since virtually all modern prints use both noble metals.)
We've been trying to arrange this print offer for more than two years; I really wanted to give readers who have never had a chance to see a platinum print up close and personal (sans glass) the opportunity to do so without breaking the bank. All along, I had hoped that my friend Carl Weese could be the photographer, but he just never had the time to spare until now. Carl is deeply knowledgeable about, and experienced with, this venerable medium. He helped develop the modern Ziatype, a variant of Captain Pizzighelli's palladium POP process; he is the co-author (with Richard Sullivan) of The New Platinum Print (nla); and he has taught Pt/Pd printing in many schools and venues. (By the way, "Pt/Pd" is the proper and preferred abbreviation for "platinum/palladium," as "Pt" and "Pd" are the chemical symbols for element 78 and element 46 in the periodic table of the elements.) He is a platinum printer of long standing. In his modest workroom in Connecticut, he has crafted a dazzling array of different types and sizes of beautiful Pt/Pd prints.
If you're not familiar with TOP Print Offers, what we do is collect orders in advance and then fulfill the orders already received. This allows photographers to produce the work as efficiently as possible, knowing each print has already been sold. This is what makes the very reasonable prices (typically half to a tenth of gallery prices) possible.
Three pictures are available in this sale—each as either a Pt/Pd print or a digital inkjet print. One, I'm happy to say, is from Carl's Drive-In Theater series recently featured on the New York Times' "Lens" blog. Tomorrow, Carl will write a little about each one to give you some background.
The Pt/Pd prints are 8x10 contact prints exposed from the original negatives. Image area is just under 8x10 inches (the film edges are masked by the film holder, as on all contact prints from sheet film) on sheets of Stonehenge paper with a generous border, signed in pencil on the verso. (Incidentally, the black areas at the edges of the image are the result of brushing the light-sensitive solution on to the sheet, and are a natural part of the platinum printing process—most people, of course, hide this with an overmat when framing.)
This sale will be open for this week only, through Friday, April 30th. No orders will be accepted past that day. PLEASE NOTE: It is possible that we will have to end the sale early if too many orders come in. This just can't be avoided; platinum printing, as you will see a few days from now here on TOP, is a very labor-intensive process. Even "mass production" can only proceed but so quickly.
The old and the new
A big part of our print sales is simply to make fine prints available to our readers for prices that are eminently affordable relative to the wider marketplace. However, as you probably well know, there's also a didactic component to our interest. For this reason, we're doing something here that has to the best of my knowledge never been done before: From each of three 8x10-inch original negatives, Carl has made both a Pt/Pd print, using traditional methods that go back more than a century, and also a digital inkjet print using a state-of-the-art HP Z3200 printer.
Why? This isn't a contest—there's no "best"—but we thought it might be interesting for you to be able to compare and contrast the old with the new, simply to better understand the visual differences. (Again, some things you just have to see with your own eyes.) Also, if you like the pictures but don't need to own a platinum print, it allows us to offer a less-than-half-as-expensive version of the print as an option for you.
Each handmade platinum/palladium contact print is only $180. Each digital print is $80. If you buy the pair of prints of any picture, the digital print is half price. If you order any combination of prints of any two different images, you get a further 5% off; and if you order any combination of prints from all three images, you can take 20% off the entire order. (We need Ctein to help calculate the number of possible combinations this results in...I can't do it!)
[Content removed—sale ended 4/30/2010]
Orders will be fulfilled the order the initial emails are received. Carl will be working full-time on this for at least the next three weeks. Periodic updates will be published here on TOP about how the fulfillment is going. If you order late in the week and are back in the queue, you can email him for a status update, but please wait until four weeks have passed before doing so. (He'll be busy!) You can also email me about the current status of fulfillment, if you think you might have missed one of our updates. My email address, as always, is in the right-hand column.
No better way
We're going to be keeping Carl very busy in the next few weeks, and I want to thank him sincerely for making this offer possible. I just don't know how you'd be able to get a full-sized 8x10" handmade platinum/palladium contact print for anywhere near this price any other way. Looking at original prints is certainly not the only way to enjoy photography, but I find it a great pleasure. And there is no better way to see original prints than to make or own your own.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
UPDATE (Monday 10:30 a.m.): We're really delighted with the initial response to the offer. Sales are strong but not too strong, if you know what I mean (walking that ineffable line between success and too much success). Carl is feeling pleased and just a tad overwhelmed, and asks everyone's understanding that he isn't routinely responding to each order email. He says he's got his hands full just doing careful and accurate data entry for all the orders.
UPDATE #2 (Friday 4/30/2010, near midnight): Sale's over! Thanks to everyone who ordered.