[Note: Mike here. I just thought I'd pluck these two comments from the mass of materials we've presented so far, to address the question of Pt/Pd printing direct from camera negatives vs. from internegs. —MJ the Ed.]
Clyde Rogers: "Platinum/palladium (Pt/Pd) printing does risk the negative if you're going for the best possible result. Pt/Pd is a contact process on hand-coated paper, and the paper needs a moderately high humidity level. If humidity is too low, you get uneven, spotty blacks. If you run the moisture too high, the best case is a muddy gray black. In the worst case some part of the negative sticks to the paper, is baked on by the UV exposure unit, and the pair is tossed in the trash.
"I have several of Carl's prints from the last sale, and they have an outstanding Pt/Pd black, so he is running at humidity levels that require a great deal of care. If his darkroom is off by 10% humidity, or he coats too heavily (or even just unevenly) one time, he very well could ruin his negative. You can put a thin sheet of acetate between the negative and the paper to protect the neg, but then you have two more dust-gathering surfaces, and have moved the neg a bit away from the paper, visibly reducing sharpness. I love the very slight softening provided by Pt/Pd interacting with a handmade paper surface, but find the additional softening of the acetate to be too much. Add to this zapping the negative with somewhere from six to 10 minutes of high-intensity UV for each print. Some folks who print one negative many times have reported some degree of either fogging or fading from all this UV. Finally, you're handling a large bare negative at least twice for each print. So, yes, Pt/Pd definitely does put the negative at greater risk than typical silver printing."
Carl replies: Clyde, thanks for that great explanation of the dangers (to the negative) of platinum printing. Watch for some interesting news about humidity issues in the next technical post [coming up next —Ed.]. I only use the term "contact print" to refer to something made directly from the in-camera negative. There are a few photographers who work this way exclusively. Kenro Izu with his 14x20 (that's not a typo) Deardorff comes to mind, and, well, me until two years ago. However, platinum prints from internegatives are more the norm than the exception. The platinum printers to the stars like Martin Axon and Sal Lopes work from internegs. Paul Strand made most of his platinum prints from enlarged negs, and so did Richard Benson when he printed for Strand at the end of his life. Most of the George Tice Pt/Pd prints I've seen at AIPAD booths were enlarged (I could only tell because they were bigger than 8x10). Expert printers using analog internegs often made multiple masks to gain extreme control of the tonal scale. Now of course we can get the same kind of control with even more precision in Photoshop.
Mike adds: When I was a student I wanted to buy examples of each of my teachers' work—a plan which faded quickly when I realized I would need stuff called "money" to carry it out—but I started by asking Frank DiPerna if I could buy a particular 8x10 platinum print from a series of portraits he made. He said I would have to make another choice. He had made one print of the picture I wanted, but, while making the second, the phone rang. When he got back to the easel, the "sun lamp" (meant for home suntanning, heavy in UV, also in heat) he was using to expose his prints had burned a hole in his negative. So the single print that existed of the picture I liked was unique and couldn't be replaced. I did buy an alternative—for $100, which was half off his regular studio-sale price, which I remember because it was a lot of money for the time—but I never liked it as much as the one I had originally chosen.
A quick snapshot of my Frank DiPerna. Sorry about the reflections. The frame is a bubinga moulding with an unusual "arrow" profile I copied from the frames at a Timothy O'Sullivan exhibit I saw in Philadelphia.
As far as internegs are concerned, Carl said "I’ll take a current state-of-the-art digital negative over a traditional internegative any day."
(Thanks to Clyde, Carl, and Frank)
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