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Monday, 12 September 2016


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As impressive as the platinum-palladium technique is...disappointing subject matter.Good luck with this sale.

[With all due respect, you haven't seen the pictures. I keep trying to explain this, but some people won't take my word--or anyone's word--or any "words" at all--for this. --Mike]

I'm happy to mail a check, but that requires a snail mail address. Do you want to post it? Or link to it?


[Hi Scott, when you send your email to Carl he'll give you the address. --Mike]

Mike, is it $100 off per print if I buy both?

[No $650 or $100 off the the total (2 x $375 = $750 – $100). --Mike]

The P/P printing must add something wonderful, I'll take your word on that. Can't say I'm wowed by the images, though. De gustibus non est disputandum and all that.

How about uploading a higher resolution photo of the prints? As mundane as the subject is I doubt there is much risk of someone stealing the image.

I am curious to see a platinum print in person. I expect a contact print from a 7" high negative to be spectacular but the photos of the prints look more like APS film enlargements.

The Dixie Milling image is from my neck-o-the-woods as they say. I think this is the first print from my local area that you've had on the site.

Looks great, I can't wait to get mine. The palladium prints have such a wonderful glow to them.

I like both photos and would have a hard time choosing between them. Unfortunately, I am not ordering because even at these nice prices, I just can't afford them. But I wish I could see them in person anyway. I've always liked the look of platinum palladium prints, even if I don't really know what that entails. Any chance of a fuller explanation for those of us who've never printed before digital?

Even at this tiny size I really like the fog image. Looks like something I would stop to stare at a lot. I suspect the print looks great.

Someone gifted me one of Carl's prints from the previous sale here on TOP. I'm so glad to have received it.

It is, without doubt, a thing of immense beauty. There is something delicately luminous about a Pt/Pd print that is unlike anything else I've ever seen. It makes the print fragile and alive. Paper and chemicals, yes. But I swear it has a soul.

And the detail of the large format is exquisite. So fine. It mesmerises me.

Although I haven't seen them in the flesh, I think the prints selected are well chosen. They will give you a first-rate feeling for the process. Full of detail and texture and depth.

On top of which, I think both photographs on offer here are gorgeous.

Is digital involved in these prints at all?

Jim, yes. The pictures were made with a 7x17 inch camera. The prints are made from digital negatives from scans of the in-camera film. That's because only an idiot (me in 2010) would commit to making a large number of sold in advance prints from an irreplaceable in-camera negative. Also why the next Pt/Pd print offer took four years to happen. That's how long it took for me to have a digital negative that I found sufficient. Two years on, they're even better.

Carl, thanks for the details. Shame to have to scan and deal with it digitally, it seems like a contact print would just be so much better. Is the neg at a large risk when printing this way? Normal b&w printing in a darkroom doesn't really risk a negative getting damaged, that I can recall.

Pt/Pd 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 6 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.

When looking at these sorts of images, I look at the qualities of the light, and particularly at the highlights. I see if the print has any of that glow (not all prints do, and it isn't required for a good print, but I like the way it happens in pt/pd more than any other process). I squint at a distance where I can see the whole print, trying to blur the image and see how light, dark and line play in the composition.

I'm really looking for great light, patterns of light and dark, and interesting lines. For me, the things in the images don't matter until I have that context. Recall Weston's pepper; the context can elevate most any subject.

Based on Carl's past work and what Mike is saying, I bet these are beautiful photographs.

Jim, these ARE contact prints, using a digitally created negative. I print platinum/palladium this way and printed silver gelatin in the old world b&w darkroom. With the digital controls available today, just speaking for myself, I can make a better pt/pd print this way than I could using a film negative directly. Making contact prints on hand coated paper, as Carl will here, is much riskier for the negative than conventional b&w contact printing on factory coated paper.

Clyde, thanks for that great explanation of the dangers (to the negative) of platinum printing. Watch for some interesting news about humidity issues in a technical post tomorrow morning.

I only use the term "contact print" to refer to something made directly from the in-camera negative. There are a few photographers who only work this way. 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.

Thanks for the clarifications re: risks to the negative. Learn something everyday!

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