This last experiment was to print pure palladium on Ruscombe Buxton and pure Platinum on Weston’s Diploma Parchment – Plat Pal. I used the ammonia process perfected by Dr. Mike Ware because I don’t want to experiment with pure Platinum using the traditional process until maybe much later. Besides the DMax from the ammonia process has proven to be so much better compared to all the other processes I’ve seen so far!
Let me discuss the palladium first. Pure palladium on Ruscombe Mill Buxton Platinum Print paper was quite disappointing. The paper has a very white if not cold white tint (meaning the actual color of the paper). Oddly enough, the palladium printed quite warm in the highlights negating the paper’s tint in spite of achieving about 80% humidity in the paper and having 65% humidity in the room. The tone could be considered sepia by some and orange by others. It’s just a bit too much for me. I had printed pure palladium on the Diploma and the tone was neutral and no where near as warm and quite pleasing. The tint of the Diploma paper is warm or has a “‘cream’ hue” as Dr. Mike ware put it in his Siderotype Report • January 2009 • Issue Number 1. I find the tint pleasing but the aesthetic options are limited with a warm paper base. The problem that this paper has is that it has a very light chemical fog that reduces the crisp snap the highlights otherwise would have while using pure palladium. My findings concur with Dr. Mike Ware’s observations in his report. The traditional Palladium process produced a very slight chemical fog as well on the same paper.
Again, I used only the ammonia process and must cover some specifics. Printing pure platinum has its issues. It doesn’t like to print out with at least some palladium in it where the palladium may act as a catalyst. My experiments were with both of the papers mentioned above. I found that there was no chemical fog concurring again with Dr. Mike Ware’s observations.
Steps to overcome non print out
The four ways to overcome the problems with pure platinum not printing out:
- add palladium — also noted as cheating
- process the print in a clearing bath of disodium EDTA that has already had palladium processed in it. This is not cheating as no palladium will end up in the print.
- use post humidification to help print out the highlights — works with palladium as well
- use a traditional developer like potassium oxalate or ammonium citrate
So far, I have attempted points two and three. The processing of the print in the diSodium EDTA clearing bath had no noticeable positive effect in printing out the highlights. Post humidification, however, clearly had excellent results with the Buxton paper. I would hesitate to say predictable though. The Diploma paper was much more erratic and unpredictable and very much a challenge–I did not get an acceptable print from it using points two and three.
The reason I’ve chosen these papers out of all the other papers I experimented with is that the highlights are absolutely smooth; there is no granularity, mottling or other chemical like problems accept for the fogging mentioned above. They have a fineness to them that I have been looking for.
Buxton is a paper that has a cold white tint; it also has a rather rough texture that I guess hand made papers are prone to. I’m not sure what this paper will look like if it were to be calendered, or pressed, after the image is made. A 22 x 30 inch sheet cost about ten times as much as the Diploma paper.
Diploma is a paper that has a pleasing warm tint and has an extremely smooth finish to it even after it has been wet. With palladium from both processes, it tends to have a very slight fog in the highlights but produces exquisite fine detail. With similar treatment, pure palladium tends to be cooler in tone than on Buxton.
Where I’m going to from here
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it in any previous post; I’m working towards a show of Bristle Cone Pines at Viewpoint Gallery this June 2010. Since the semester at Sierra College is starting tomorrow, I’m running out of time to “find the aesthetic” I have been looking for these last two years.
I could experiment with point number four with both papers and develop the highlights with pure platinum. I find the cold aesthetic of pure platinum on Buxton to not work with these magnificent old trees. I need a warmer image. Perhaps using a developer will cause the image to change its tone; I don’t know. I could ‘cheat’ and verify that one drop of palladium in 50 ml of solution will allow for predictable results. Will that change the tone? I suspect the warm tint on the Diploma paper will produce the aesthetic I’m looking for. Or should I go forward and try 75% platinum and 25% palladium on Buxton and see if I get a warmer overall tone while keeping white highlights I’ve found attractive in traditionally warm tone Silver Gelatin papers like the discontinued Forte or the Adox Variotone Warmtone photographic paper. The only way to find out is to print. The problem is I’m running out of time!
Comments are welcome.