The Platinum/Palladium Process

 

Six 8x10 negatives in tubes being developed in the wet darkroom 

Six 8x10 negatives in tubes being developed in the wet darkroom 

Platinum/Palladium prints are one of the most beautiful photographic processes available today. I enjoy Platinum/Palladium printing because of the extraordinarily long tonal range, the texture of the paper, and the special gravitas that the prints have. No other process, whether traditional or digital, shares the special appeal that Platinum/Palladium prints have.

While some use digital techniques such as digital cameras and/or digital negatives to make Platinum/Palladium prints, I prefer the old methods of using my large format camera and in-camera negatives to make contact prints. I find this experience most satisfying. While I consider both approaches valid, I find  images made from film and images made digitally have a different feel to them, and I prefer the former.

Watercolor paper coated with sensitizer, ready to be exposed to UV light

Watercolor paper coated with sensitizer, ready to be exposed to UV light

Platinum/Palladium paper isn't available for purchase pre-made, like silver gelatin papers. Instead, I buy watercolor paper and coat it with sensitizer, painting it on with a special brush as one would apply paint onto a fence. Once the sensitizer is dry, the paper and the negative are placed into a UV unit for exposure. The exposure time can vary from four to twenty minutes, depending on the density of the negative. During this time I'm usually coating paper for the next negative.

Once the exposure is complete, the print is developed in a tray of Potassium Oxalate, cleared, washed, and hung to dry. The process is very time consuming, but the reward is worth it.

Because this process is so variable, no two prints ever come out the same. Even prints that I’ve made one after the other show some difference. That’s a characteristic of hand-made prints. Each has its own personality and uniqueness.

My images have never looked this good before. No other process in photography demonstrates the glow and presence of a Platinum/Palladium print.