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PLATINUM PRINTING PROCESS

 

Platinum printing was a technique patented by William Wallis and Alfred Clements in 1873. At the time, the more common process of Albumen printing had been around for a longer period of time and was more common as a processing technique. But Platinum printing was so much more different from all other printing processes, that it became known as THE KING OF PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESSES. 

 

Platinum printing is exceptionally beautiful and contains a soft glittering shine over highlighted and shadowed areas, translating into a wide tonal range in such an effective way that it allows the viewer see at a great three dimensional depth. Traditional printing uses four contrast levels while a Platinum print has 14, allowing the printer to have a wider range of control over the printing process. 

 

HAND MADE PRINT 

 

The photographer utilizing this process prepares his own coating solution containing a combination of pure metal platinum and palladium, along with some oxidizers to increase and decrease the contrast. Occasionally, the photographer will use gold to control the hue of the print. 

 

After mixing the coating solution, the photographer usually chooses a natural acid-free paper, similar to water color paper, selected from the wide variety of types available and depending on the artists taste. After humidifying the paper and coating the platinum over it with a brush or a glass tube, the paper is dried using a hair dryer or by leaving in a dark place until completely dry. 

 

The paper is then usually sandwiched with a sheet of negative film within a glass frame. Personally, I prefer a vacuum frame to ensure good contact of the large negative for superior image sharpness. The paper is then exposed to sunlight or UV light for a time ranging from 5 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the density of the negative. Following this exposure, the paper is dipped in five separate stages of chemicals and finally washed with water and left to dry. 

 

The coating of the platinum print is of sensitive metals which is IN the paper rather than ON the paper, giving it enhanced depth and feel, along with a longer shelf life, with some saying that the picture outlives the paper itself. It is for this reason why the great color of Platinum prints is still enjoyed till this day, and the process has not faded since its birth in the 19th century till our present day. 

 

Presented by Nasser Alhameli