A Noble Process in a Digital Age
The platinum/palladium printing technique was developed in England in the late 19th-century and was soon widely acclaimed for producing prints of exceptional quality and beauty. Many well-known early photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz, Frederick Evans, Paul Strand, and Irving Penn printed their finest images in platinum/palladium. Production of commercially-made platinum/palladium papers ceased in the 1930's when the metals became too expensive for photographic use. Today's practitioners of platinum/palladium printing must purchase the chemicals, mix them to produce a liquid coating, and then brush or spread the coating on fine cotton-rag or linen paper. Once the coating is dry the hand-coated paper is placed in contact with the negative and exposed to a strong ultraviolet light source, either the sun or ultraviolet lamps. After immersion in developer and three clearing baths, the print is thoroughly washed and dried. In the finished print the image is solely composed of microscopic particles of pure platinum and/or palladium metal resting on and in the uppermost fibers of the paper. Composed of inert precious metals the image will never tarnish or fade; it will literally last as long as the paper upon which it rests.
Platinum/palladium photographs are characterized by a lovely gray to warm brown color, a noticeable luminosity, and a long tonal scale. They have a unique presence and show well in almost any setting or light. Moreover, they are acutely sharp because they are printed by contact, not by projection. Because of their great beauty and longevity, platinum/palladium photographs are highly regarded by collectors and are especially appropriate as fine gifts.
In a market that places a high premium on archival work, the struggle increases to balance art, commerce and technique. Crossing the line from machine made to handmade does necessitate a commitment, and true, the work is labor intensive, but the finished results ensure a satisfaction that comes with the freedom to define many decisions while working with materials that allow you to be true to your vision. And in the end, what unfolds before your eyes is more of an ‘art-object' than an ordinary photograph.
Please contact me to discuss your printing needs or your next project.
David@davidtepperphotography.com or fill out form on the Contact Page. Thank you.