Photographs by Frank

26 December 2021

Pt/Pd Printing – “Dialing It In”

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Pt/Pd Prints — Frank @ 12:00 AM

Learning a new process such as platinum/palladium (Pt/Pd) printing involves two distinct things. First, one needs to learn the physical process of making a print… what solutions to make, how to coat paper, what exposure to use, etc., etc.

Additionally (at least with digital negatives), one needs to “dial in” the processing of your digital photo in order to match the negative to the process. Without going into any real details, this involves two things. One needs to get the maximum density (Dmax) of the negative correctly adjusted. Then one needs to get the contrast correctly adjusted using the appropriate curve.

Getting things “dialed in” is an iterative process. One makes changes based on prior experience, prints a negative and then uses the negative to make (in this case) a Pt/Pd print. The resulting print is used to make further adjustments and the process is repeated.

Yesterday, I made three versions of the “Salmon River” negative in order to get the first print shown below. The “Church Window” negative took only two versions and the “Courthouse” negative was pretty good on my first attempt.

Hopefully, as one gains experience a negative get “dialed “in” more quickly and easily. With cyanotypes and salted-paper prints, I rarely have to make more than one negative… maybe ten-percent of photographs get a second negative. For those familiar processes the changes are usually to the dodging and burning in order to “fix” nature’s light. With experience, I’ll get to the same point with negative for Pt/Pd printing.

For my first set of Pt/Pd prints I used Legion Lenox 100 paper. This paper has been working well for my salted-paper prints and so I tried it. For the current prints, I used Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag (HPR).

HPR is (as its name implies) designed for Pt/Pd printing… it is sort of the “gold standard” <grin> of alt process papers. It is a heavy (300 gsm), 100% cotton paper. Lenox 100, on the other hand, is a bit lighter (250 gsm) 100% cotton paper designed for traditional ink on paper printmaking. The Lenox 100 is about one-third the cost of the HPR so it has that advantage.

I was surprised on how warm the prints on HPR came out. Pt/Pd printing is know for being quite neutral in tone and certainly the prints I made on the Lenox 100 were quite neutral. Hmmm… to check and see if I had done something different with the new batch of prints, I made a second print (the last image shown below) of the “Salmon River” photograph on Lenox 100. The only difference between the first and the last print is the paper.

Very interesting! And… I haven’t a clue why they are different.

This result, of course, suggest a further experiment… what about other papers? I did that experiment today. The prints are drying as I write and I’ll scan them tomorrow. Patience!!!

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Salmon River (on Hahn. Pt Rag)
Salmon River (on Hahn. Pt Rag)
Church Window with Stairs
Church Window with Stairs
Courthouse (Newfane, VT)
Courthouse (Newfane, VT)
Salmon River (on Legion Lenox 100)
Salmon River (on Legion Lenox 100)

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the education on printing – I just wish I had an inkling of what you were talking about 🙂

    Continue to experiment and come up with the process that makes you happy and best shows your amazing photography. In the meantime, I’ll be looking up some of this terminology to be better equipped for the next posting!

    A most Successful MMCCII, Frank!

    Comment by Joe Kennedy — 26 December 2021 @ 7:18 AM

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