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Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Very impressive, Carl!

Thanks VERY much for the tutorial/explanation of the platinum printing process and the accompanying slideshow.

You say that "The most important first step in making a platinum print (I’m following convention and using that term even though the prints are actually made mainly of palladium, with a small percentage of platinum) is to begin with a negative suited to the process." So is there such a thing as prints that are made mostly of platinum? And if so, does the printing process differ in any significant way?

Thanks in advance.



The more platinum, the higher the contrast, the cooler the color, and the more likely the tone will go from creamy smooth to gritty. 50/50 is pretty much the limit using the normal process.

In The New Platinum Print (long since sold out) we described a method of making a print with platinum solution only, which I dubbed "the extravagatype." You coat with ferric and the platinum solution, heat dry totally, then expose. Instead of the normal development you use a few ml of a mixture of developer and glycerine, poured over the print and moved around with a hake brush. The mixture develops the print very slowly--it takes several minutes of continuous brushing, but the end result is a print with relatively high contrast, especially in the midtones with lovely smooth tonality. There may be other ways to do it that I'm not aware of.

Awesome! Now I'm all excited about the possibility of making platinum prints again. I never got around to it last time! Maybe I will now, though!

Hi Carl, may I ask a question - one of the slide (slide 20) showed you looked at the contact frame half open. Is that process can be looked at? After reading (and just reading) for more than 1 year on alternative process, I thought that look is for print out paper process but I read that pt/pd is not. Very curious in why you look at the paper?

Alternative process is hard to learn here in Hong Kong. Last year I deliberately go to a large format user group (quite surprise myself that it actually exists and the group is mainly around a movie star Mr. Chow Yen Fat who do this for more than 10 years now). I tried to see anyone interest in alternative process but none of the around 10 4x5-8x10 shooter there seemed to be in it. Does not seem to be as easy as self learning to develop in E6 and HC-110.

Quite interested. For me getting some negative is easy (US$1.5 per 8x10 sheet from Mainland China in black and white) May bring some negatives and try to find someone in UK around Bath (where I would stay for 1 month in summer) and hopefully can have a chance to learn this.

In fact, do you have a kind of step recommendations for starter. Sort of starting from some process and end with pt/pd process.

Thanks again Carl - can't wait to get mine now, and compare it to the digital version. Are you going to show pictures of all the mouse clicks it took to make the digital prints? :)

I have really enjoyed reading and learning about all this Carl. I just wish I could engage in some of the purchasing at this time.

Great stuff Carl and Mike.

Thank you. That's the clearest and most enlightening description of the process that I've encountered so far.

Interesting and useful .... but ...

As these types of prints are from contact only would it be possible to make such a print from a digital negative ... for those of us without a large format camera. I was thinking of an inkjet print to a transparent material.


Thank you for an excellent illustrated process outline, Carl. I'll now appreciate my print even more, just as I did after viewing Ctein's dye transfer process video (from Luminous Landscape).

As with Ctein's dye transfer, however, I'm more than happy leaving Pt/Pd printing to someone else!


Very interesting indeed.

The fluorescent tubes in your UV box appear to be ordinary white tubes. Is that the case? How many Watts are they each? There appears to be eight of them, each probably 18" long.


The question remains - and can only be answered individually- whether certain pictures deserve longevity.

Thank you Carl for the information and images! Thanks Mike for giving Carl the forum to show us!

Carl, how do you handle different contrast levels (density range) of negatives? I've used both the NA2 and Ratio methods but not contrast control thru developer (poatassium dichromate included).

I too love the sound of this and the prints you have produce look great. Have you ever experimented with making 'digital negatives' - printing out a digital file onto a transparent material to create a negative? I guess this could help in controlling the tonal range of the 'negative'?

It's fascinating to watch this happen. And it's convenient that it can happen in bright light! I'm unlikely to try it, but I'm still more interested in it than I was before. Seeing a bit of what coating the paper entails is interesting.

Excellent, Carl. I've never seen the steps illustrated so clearly before.

Is there a procedure or book regarding making digital negatives that you would recommend to go along with your process?



There is a partial print-out image. You cannot judge the exposure accurately with it, but with practice it can *help* you get pretty close on your first try printing a negative. For a starter process that resembles Pt/Pd (except bright blue) and is much cheaper to do, you could try cyanotype.

Steven, you definitely can make enlarged negatives either in the darkroom or digitally, but both are advanced techniques requiring thorough knowledge of the traditional or digital darkroom. And of course, a print from an enlarged negative is *an enlargement*--they can be very, very good, but they are visually different from a direct contact print.

Roger they are special UV "black light" tubes: they just lack the head shop black coating. You're correct about the measurement. My large box has 16 24" tubes. I print my 7x17 and 12x24" negatives with that using a vacuum frame.

Doug, I basically never use contrast agents. I'm a firm believer in getting it right in the negative. Workshop students have reported back to me that their printing improved simply because I'd convinced them they didn't "need" to use contrast agents. This is partly my personal photographic style though: if a picture shows a scene in fog, I don't want to jack up the contrast to look like sunshine.

Darren, I have seen excellent results from the Precision Digital Negatives approach devised by Mark Nelson (you can search it easily). Mark took a private workshop with me to learn the "old fashioned way" before he worked out the curves and other elements of the system to make negatives for Pt/Pd printing.

Just as an aside--I don't know if you print on Azo/Lodima, but if you do, that blue Ikea halogen lamp there with the UV filter removed makes an excellent light source, and is much easier to deal with than the 300W incandescent lamps that people seem to like for that purpose. It doesn't put out enough UV for alternative processes (I've tested it with albumen), but it's perfect for Azo.

Truly excellent educational presentation.

Chow Yun Fat shoots large format? Wow. I didn't think he could get any cooler.

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