What is Platinum Printing
Platinum is darkroom printing process but unlike traditional silver printing the image is made from platinum metals. A solution of platinum combined with palladium and ferric oxalate is coated on to a sheet of watercolour paper. A platinum print is made by contact printing the coated paper and the negative under a UV light source.
The unique beauty of a platinum print involves a broad range of tones from black to white. The delicate, rich tones range from warm black, to reddish brown, to expanded mid-tone greys that are unobtainable in silver prints. The deepest shadows still have detail and the whites are soft and delicate; the depth of the image is alive and three-dimensional.
Platinum prints are not only exceptionally beautiful, they are the most durable of all photographic processes. The platinum and palladium metals are more stable than gold, and it is estimated that a platinum print, can last thousands of years
Why I use Platinum
I have chosen to produce my portfolio “Shadows of Industry” as platinum prints. It is in some way humbling that the prints I create may exist longer than the architecture I photograph. Truly a moment in history.
Platinum Printing Workshop
If you are interested in learning more about the platinum printing and other alternative processes I offer a selection of one day workshops which focus on these historic processes. You can find out more information here at Printing Workshops
An Illustrated Guide to Platinum Printing
A step by step guide to producing a platinum / palladium print using the dichromate method.
- Preparing the paper
I print most of my platinum prints on Arches Platine watercolour paper, which is specifically designed for platinum and other alternative processes. Tear or cut down to a size that leaves 2-3 inches around the print, then mark the corners of the negative with light pencil marks to make coating the paper more accurate.
- Mixing the sensitiser
To make a 9×6 inch print the platinum / palladium sensitiser is made up from:
- Ferric Oxalate – 10 drops
- Palladium in the form of Sodium Chloropalladite 15% solution – 7 drops
- Platinum in the form of Potassium Chloroplatinite 20% solution – 3 drops
- Coating the paper
The sensitiser is drawn up into a small syringe and then applied in a continuous run along one side of the paper. Then take a coating rod (a brush can also be used) and spread the sensitiser across the paper following the pencil outlines. You should get between 6 and 10 passes to give a nice even coat, any excess can be mopped up with a cotton bud. Once coated the paper is left to dry in the dark.
- Holding the paper and negative
The negative is now placed on the coated paper and held firmly together using either a contact printing frame, a vacuum frame or two heavy sheets of glass.
- Exposing the print
The negative and paper sandwich is then placed under the UV light source and exposed, exposure times can vary between 5 and 10 minutes using a bank of black light blue fluorescent tubes, other light sources may require different exposure times.
- Developing the print
The print is the placed in a tray and Potassium Oxalate developer is poured over the print. The print is then developed for 2 minutes with constant agitation.
- Clearing the print
Clearing the print involves 3 baths of hypo clearing agent (EDTA can also be used). The print spends 5 minutes in each bath, the first with constant agitation the second with intermittent agitation and last with no agitation.
- Washing the print
The Print is finally washed in running water for 30 minutes before being hung to dry.
Thats it, once dry you have a platinum / palladium print that can be mounted and framed as required.