I just started a new blog devoted to platinum/palladium printing, where I will be posting about techniques, as well as events and interviews with other platinum/palladium printers and their work. Why not just post more about the technical aspects here on my current blog? From the start, I always planned on keeping my personal blog devoted to updates on my work, aesthetic issues, and my thoughts on photography in general. Over the last few years I have become passionaly involved with platinum/palladium printing and want to share what I have learned to the growing number of people beginning to work with the process. With a separate blog, those who only want to read about that can do so without the updates on my personal work, which is becoming more diverse as I incorporate digital appropriation, mixed media, and video installation with my more traditional forms of photographing and print making.
I am thrilled to have a large platinum/palladium print from my Remote Sensing series in Philadelphia Photo Art Center's 3rd Annual Competition and Exhibition. The opening is tomorrow, July 12th, from 6-9. The openings at PPAC are always a blast and you can bet I'll be there all night.
Also currently on view is another large platinum/palladium print from the same series at Portland, Oregon's Newspace Center for Photography. The opening was last Friday, and I regret that I couldn't make it out West for it and catch up with old friends in the area.
UPDATE 12/12/12: You can read more about platinum/palladium printing at my blog devoted to the subject at www.platinumprinting.wordpress.com/ —
When I started this blog I was reluctant to make too many posts on technical issues. However, for the past few weeks I have been testing a few different methods for making better platinum prints, as well as tests with the Jon Cone piezography inks for digital negatives—for both silver and platinum printing. I am planning on posting an extensive review of the Jon Cone "digital film" inkset in the near future.
If there were ever a lifelong quest of the platinum printer it would be in one in search of blacker-blacks. That is what led me first to double coating, experimenting with printing multiple separation negatives, and then waxing my platinum/palladium prints. So when I read on Swings and Tilts, Bostic and Sullivan’s blog, about pre-coating the paper with fumed silica, I was compelled to try that as well.
Most of my testing the last few years has been less than scientific, and I generally trusted my eye, and comparisons of new test prints of certain images that have proven to yield exquisite print qualities across a variety of processes. However, for the fumed silica I wanted to know exactly how it affected contrast and exposure for my standard calibrated platinum/palladium workflow.*
The initial write-up on the Swings and Tilts says to use a foam paint roller to apply either the liquid or powdered form of fumed silica evenly to the paper, but the webstore only has a liquid in a 500ml bottle. I didn’t have a foam roller on hand to coat the liquid fumed silica so I used a 3-inch foam brush and a small tray with a few drops of solution. I dipped the brush in the tray to pick up the solution and quickly coated the entire sheet of paper. I try to keep the brushing to a minimum as to not damage the paper’s surface while still keeping as even coat as possible. Once the paper is coated it will start to curl, but will lay flat again after it dries for 5-10 minutes.
To actually test the effects of the Fumed Silica on print quality, I used a standard Stouffer calibrated 21-step tablet exposed through a sheet of Pictorico Premium OHP (I printed through the OHP because I was also testing against my standard printing time and testing the density range needed for inkjet negatives).
The results were somewhat surprising: the D-max increased as expected, but the separation in both the shadow and highlight values both increased. The paper seemed to be slightly faster as well, which contradicts the updated instructions on the Swings and Tilts blog.
The first two papers to test were Revere Platinum and Arches Platine, which was my preferred paper until about two years ago. The last two batches I received have been terrible—a rougher surface, lower D-max and problems with white specks all over the print. (I later learned in a conversation with Dana at Bostic and Sullivan that the Arches mill was bought up by another company and they fired the old guy who used to select the cotton and oversee production of Platine). The problem with the white specks is from small hairs sticking up off the paper’s surface. Dana suggested I try Tween 20 on the Arches, which solved some of the problems, but that Revere Platinum was a better paper all around. I am sitting with more than 25 full sheets of Platine and hoped the fumed silica would let me salvage the paper. In short, it didn’t.
The Platine seems to be worse with fumed silica than without. Without fumed silica the D-max is still low and the print has a muddy appearance in the darker tones. With the fumed silica the D-max did increase, but brushing it on seemed to have dislodged the paper fibers and spread them all over the coated area, resulting in very spotty prints. It is possible that rolling the fumed silica on dry will solve this problem, but it is still too much trouble to be a usable paper for me.
The Revere Platinum without the fumed silica does show an uneven coating and a specked surface as some people have reported on APUG and DPUG. The fumed silica seems to have evened out all the surface and spottiness problems. It needs more testing with larger final prints with large areas of smooth tone to be certain, but this preliminary test looks promising. Like the Arches Platine, the D-max increased and it seems to have increased the exposure scale as well. I checked the step wedge on a densitometer and graphed the curve in excel. I was surprised at how the curve was smoothed out with the fumed silica.
*My standard coating mix is slightly different than the generally agreed upon ratio of sensitizer, metal salts, and restrainer. My system is based on four drops each of sensitizer and palladium to one drop of Tween 20 and one drop of NA2 at 2.5%–10%, depending on the image. My first coat is diluted with distilled water equal to the number of drops of sensitizer/palladium, keeping the Tween 20 and NA2 constant.
For a 4x5-inch print I use for a first coat a mixture of 2 drops each of Ferric Oxalate, and Palladium, 4 drops H2O, and 1 drop each of NA2 @ 2.5% and tween 20.
My second coat is 4 drops each of FO and PD, 1 drop of NA2 at the needed dilution, and 1 drop of Tween 20. When using the Jack Richeson “magic brush” you can get away with using fewer total drops, and while this is really too much solution for a 4x5-inch print, it scales up to an 8x10 print very well by only doubling the number of drops of each solution.
This month's featured print is another from my 2004 trip to Iceland, made on the Skaftafellsjökull glacier, in what is now Vatnajökull National Park.
About the Editions:
Since most of the work I regularly show is project-based, there are hundreds of images in my files that are never seen, or that I never made a priority to print. Now that I have been scanning and making enlarged negatives for platinum/palladium printing, I have been returning to some of the older work, and, in many cases, printing negatives for the first time.
As a way to bring some of these images out into the light, I will feature a new print each month as a limited-edition platinum/palladium or non-editioned inkjet print at a greatly reduced price to make my work more accessible to friends, new collectors, and fine-art photography enthusiasts.
The platinum/palladium edition is limited to 10 signed and numbered 7.5″x7.5″ prints on 11″x13″ 100% cotton rag Arches Platine, mounted and overmatted on 4-ply 16″x18″ Artcare Alpharag for a price of $200.
The inkjet edition is a signed 7.5″x.7.5″ print on 8.5″x11″ Hahnemuhle PhotoRag Pearl, mounted and overmatted on 2-ply 13″x15″ Artcare Alpharag for $25.
If interested, please email me to arrange payment and shipping.
Since most of the work I show is project-based, there are hundreds of images in my files that are never seen or that I never made a priority to print. So as a way to bring some of these images out into the light, each month I will be offering a new limited-edition platinum/palladium and uneditioned inkjet print at a greatly reduced price to make my work more accessible to friends, new collectors, and photography enthusiasts. This first "print of the month" image is one of several that I made in the lava fields around Landmannalauger during a trip to Iceland in 2004, where I camped and photographed around the countryside for seven weeks.
The platinum/palladium edition is limited to 10 signed and numbered 7.5"x7.5" prints on 11"x13" Arches Platine and mounted and overmatted to 16"x18" for $200.
The inkjet edition is a signed 7.5"x.7.5" print on 8.5"x11" Hahnemuhle PhotoRag Pearl mounted and overmatted to 13"x15" inches for $25.
Purchases can be made through my Etsy shop or by contacting me through email for payment by check or Paypal.
I will be showing new work (and some from the archive) with a few other photographers at the Lightroom Salon Gallery in the Art Museum/Fairmount area of Philadelphia for POST. I didn't know if would be in Philadelphia for the tour when registration ended back in June so I do not have an individual artist page on the POST website, but here is a link to the gallery page.
Details: October 1st and 2nd from Noon to 6 at 2024 Wallace Street, 19130. Please call 215-609-5814 if you have any questions or need directions.