A Noble Process - The Platinum Print As Collector's Item
Platinum is one of the oldest photographic printing processes, dating back to the mid to late 1800s - patented as a process in 1873. Platinum and palladium are often combined in the process and the prints are still referred to as simply Platinum Prints or Platinotypes. Very few platinum prints are made with pure platinum, both due to the expense of platinum and also artistic choice. Adding palladium to the process can offer a warmer tone, a larger tonal range, deeper blacks and a softer image with more delicate highlights. It's very rare to find a pure platinum print.
Platinum and palladium are both noble metals on the Periodic Table and resist oxidation. A platinum print can outlast just about any other photographic process. They are among the most permanent objects created by humans. Platinum and palladium are both more stable than gold. A platinum print, properly made and cared for, can last thousands of years and are much more stable than silver-based prints or archival pigment print processes. In a platinotype, the metals are imbedded into the paper's surface (versus in a gelatin emulsion coating the paper in silver prints) and absorbed among the fibers of the paper. This also gives platinum prints a matte finish, rather than a glossy one, contributing to their timeless beauty.
Beauty and permanence, make platinum prints treasured by photographers and collectors. Platinum prints can have a very broad scale of tones from black to white that are unobtainable in silver or other prints. In the deepest shadows, the platinum print can still present information and the whites can be very delicate, providing a three-dimensional depth in a print.
I create my platinum prints by hand, following archival standards. I enjoy the tactile, analog nature of creating these handmade prints. Each print is created individually, on paper coated with hand-mixed sensitizers immediately prior to printing it. No two prints are exactly the same. Each one will have some mark on it or slight variation in tone that distinguishes it from any other. In the world of platinum printers, there is talk about prints varying based on phase of the moon, what the printer had for breakfast that day, what they might be wearing while printing... There are any number of variables that do affect this beautiful hand-made process, including humidity levels, room temperature, water temperature and so on. One note on my particular approach to the process that may differ from some other platinum printers, is that I take minimal steps to control my printing environment. I allow the humidity of my environment - currently the American Southwest high desert - to be what it is. Thus my prints created in my current home-base, New Mexico, may not look like any prints I make anywhere else. This is simply a creative choice on my part. On some prints, stray brush marks can be seen and should be considered marks of the artist. These add to the individual, hand-made character of these special prints.
Each of my platinum print is made by hand, signed and numbered. I am currently only selling them in limited edition folio collections.
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More information on the platinum process for photography students and anyone interested in learning the process here....