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The Making of a Traditional Platinum/Palladium Print

        The Platinum print is one of the most beautiful ways to express your photographic ideas that you'll find.  The blending of the printing techniques, paper selection, and coating techniques, allow the photographer/printmaker to accomplish astounding clarity and luminosity.  What is it that draws the printer, the collector, and the viewer to the platinum print?   There are as many reasons as there are platinum prints.  To the neophyte, these prints are those made with platinum metal.  To the collector, these prints are photographic gems that will last as no other.  To the printer, these prints are an expression of truly great control, creating images of depth and brilliance.

        Prints made with platinum and palladium have been with us for more than a century.  Over that time, they have received the praise of many of the century's top photographers: Paul Strand, Irving Penn, Alfred Stieglitz, Frederick Evans, Laura Gilpin, and others.  For many years the cost and the hazardous nature of the chemicals keep many able bodied photographers and printmakers away from this excellent expression of the photographic image.  However, during the late 70's the process began a come back.

        Photographic prints commonly referred as platinum prints are usually a blending of two metals, platinum and palladium.  Platinum and palladium are members of an elemental group known as the NOBLE METALS.  That group also consists of the elements, osmium, iridium, ruthenium, and rhodium.  And although Irving Penn referred to iridium in his prints, most modern prints are made using only platinum and/or palladium.  One or usually both of these noble metals are used to make a print.  What do we call these prints made from the noble metals?  Platinum prints because the word platinum is more identifiable? Platinum/Palladium if both are used but more platinum than palladium? Palladium/Platinum if both are used but more palladium than platinum? Palladium? Platinotype? Palladiotypes? Noble prints?

        A look into the process of making a print, reveals a process that can yield an image easily but will take great care to produce consistent results.  The printing process is a contact process:  one requiring a negative the size of your finished print.  Whether you shoot large format B&W negative originals or choose to convert from other formats and film types, you'll be pleased with the prints' sharpness and richness.

        Let's start with a quick overview of the process of making a Noble print.  The basic items involved include a negative, material to sensitize paper, an Ultra Violet (UV) light source, a contact frame, a developer, clearing baths, and basic darkroom equipment: trays, timers, graduated cylinders etc.  We place the negative on the sensitized paper, which is held in place by the contact frame.  An exposure is made using a UV light source.  The reaction that follows can be explained by these equations.

Fe2(C2O4)3 + light (UV) = 2FeC2O4 + 2CO2(gas)
2FeC2O4 + K2C2O4+ K22PtCl4----> Fe2(C2O4)3 + Pt + 4KCl 

        You then place the paper in the developer, where the image comes up quite quickly.  After several minutes in the developer, clear the print in several clearing baths and then the print is washed. It sounds simple enough.


    Let's investigate the process of making a noble print in three steps.  Our  first step will be the creation of the printing negative. Secondly, being the chemicals used to create the sensitizing solution and processing chemistry.   Lastly we will look at the printing procedure and it's controls.

    Since the printing process is a contact process, you will either need to invest in large format cameras or learn to make enlarged negatives. The film and developers used in enlarged negative making are available from most photographic suppliers.  They are commonly used throughout "normal" B&W photography and the graphics arts arenas.  It is even possible to make printing negatives using your computer to make a high quality acetate output.

    There are two groups of chemicals to examine.  One group allows the printer to create the sensitized paper and the other is used in the processing of the print.  Both groups require you to be acquainted with several suppliers of photographic chemicals other than your local camera store.  There are currently several formulas that are used to make Noble prints.  Some formulas involve chemicals that are less hazardous than others, and some allow you to print out the image so that the next step is to place the print in water to develop it. The method that we will review, closely follows the traditional method.

    The basic components in the sensitizing solution include; Ferric Oxalate, the metal salts of platinum and/or palladium, and a solution or additive to contrast control.  Numerous mail order dealers sell complete kits, which for the most part will allow you to produce nice prints.  There are also several metal suppliers that offer the platinum and palladium salts.

    The print processing chemicals include the developer and clearing solutions.  Many developers can be used in the noble print process.  In choosing the developer, the printer will influence the color and contrast of the print.  Much like gelatin silver printing, we must remove the unused metal and clear the paper of residual chemicals, leaving behind the metal and the paper.  Several baths are used in series to achieve this end.  Weak acid baths of hydrochloric acid or citric acid can be used.  EDTA (tetra sodium) and sodium sulfite can also be used to clear prints.

    Most serious printers coat their own paper with a solution that contains the platinum and palladium salts and other components.  The advantages to coating your own paper include, a more precise control over print color and contrast, and it allows you to adjust coating styles such as brushed edges.

    In choosing a paper, you will determine aspects of color, sharpness and apparent contrast of your print.  Paper manufacturing has undergone some changes in the last 10 to 15 years.  Some of these changes have affected whether a paper will work for noble printing.  Papers that worked yesterday, may not work tomorrow.  There are several papers that currently work well for the noble process.  They include but are not limited to; Strathmore 500 drawing paper, Beinfang 360, Fabriano Artistico,  Simili Japon by Van Gelder, Gallery 100, and Platine by Arches. The pH of the paper and what type of sizing will determine if it will work for you.  Some papers can be sized to make them work.  Sizing is an additional step found unnecessary by some printers, and an absolute part of the process to others.  Once you have chosen a paper or papers, it may make sense to buy a good supply.  This will aid you in making consistent prints and will allow you to eliminate one ingredient that might be the source of problems down the line.


Our first choice will be to determine the size of the print and thus the size of the printing negative.  If you are using a format as large as your desired print size, all you must do is create a negative with the proper contrast range.  Since noble prints can hold information over a larger contrast range (Dmin to Dmax) than silver prints, you should ask yourself if you plan to print this negative as a noble print only or also as a silver print? You can expand the range of the negative for the platinum process if the answer to that question is only as a noble print.   However, users of pyro processing, should not expand their negatives.  The stain of the pyro process boost the contrast of the noble print to very acceptable levels.

    For original formats that are smaller than the desired print size, you must make a printing negative.  The best solution is to make a positive from your original negative, and then to enlarge that positive to the desired print size onto an appropriate film stock.

    When making the inter positive, you can use your enlarger to project the inter positive or simply to provide light for the film/negative sandwich.  For original negatives of 35 mm to 4" x 5", I'll make a 4" x 5" inter positive. And if the print size will larger than 16" x 20", I'll make an 8" x 10" positive for those negatives.  For in camera originals negatives of 4" x 5" up to 8x10 , I use a contact frame to hold the negative and film sandwich.  An important consideration is control of dust and surface imperfections.  I use several films to make my film positives. They include: Kodak Technical Pan 4155, Kodak Pan Masking Film, Ilford Delta 100 or Ilford Ortho film.  The film type used on a particular positive is determined by the contrast in the original negative; tech pan is for medium to low contrast originals, and the ortho film for high to medium contrast originals.  For example, the tech pan can be processed in HC 110 diluted @ 1:11, and up to 1:25 from stock (not concentrate). It can also be processed in Technidol.  Ilford Ortho film is processed in Ilfotec @ 1:31 dilution.

    I generally use Kodak Professional Copy 4125 film for the enlarged negative.  It has excellent expansion and contraction capabilities and also has good tooth for pencil retouching.  Some other acceptable films include Agfa N31p, Kodak Tri X, Kodak Tmax 100, Ilford Delta 100 , Ilford HP5 and Ilford FP4+.  Some of these are limited in size to no larger than 11x14 without a special order. Darkroom Innovation is a source for some of these special order items.  Special orders may cost several thousand dollars, so it may make sense to try and get several printers together for a purchase.  Working with one film stock to generate your printing negative, that range from small to large, will save you the time of running additional film and developing test.  The Professional Copy 4125 is available from 4" x 5" up to 20" x 24".  I process it with HC110 @ 1:11.

    The density range of your printing negative should be approximately 1.5 to 1.9 (Dmin to Dmax).  This will depend on how you like to print and your own abilities to control film processing.  If you do not have a densitometer to calibrate and measure the film test, you might be able to get a local custom lab to read the densities for you.  And for the computer users, there are programs that will plot that test for you.  For both the positive and negative steps, it is also advisable to use a light meter to adjust the amounts of light to some standard that will work for you. The meter should be able to read light down to 1/8 foot candle or lower.  This will help save you extensive film test down the line.


    Some of the chemicals used to make Noble prints can be very hazardous to your health as well as the health of those around you. Extreme care should be taken when handling the chemicals.  The noble metals are heavy metals and should not be absorbed, inhaled, or ingested in any form.  The oxalates are poisonous and should be handled with proper chemical safety precautions. Use a mask and gloves when mixing the powdered chemicals and a fume hood if possible; the ferric oxalate and palladium chloride are  particularly fine powders.  The commercially available chemistry is for the most part, pre-mixed and ready to use.  Do not use metal containers for mixing, storing, or handling the chemicals during the processing of prints.

    All chemicals, except for some clearing baths, are mixed with distilled water.  I use clear glass flasks and beakers, with an electric mixer to get dry chemistry into solution. You should then filter them and store them in brown bottles with mixing dates written on the outside of the bottle. You should allow 24 hours for equilibrium to be reached for all but the developer, which is ready to use shortly after mixing.  Allow the chemicals to mix in the safety of a well ventilated darkroom.


* Platinum Salts & Palladium Salts
* Ferric and Potassium Oxalates
* Sodium Chloride (table salt)
* Sodium Phosphate dibasic
* Oxalic Acid
* Hydrogen Peroxide  (3% solution)
* Phosphoric Acid 75%
* Citric Acid
* EDTA (tetra sodium)
* Sodium Sulfite

Alternative Chemicals
· Muriatic Acid (pool acid)
· Kodak Hypo Clearing Agent
· Potassium Chlorate
· Ferric Ammonium Oxalates
· Platinum & Palladium Salts ammonium based


Potassium Tetrachloroplatinite - K2PtCl4

    10 grams of Potassium Tetrachloroplatinite is added to 47.5ml of warm (90F) distilled water to make the saturated solution.  As the solution cools, some of the salt will precipitate out of the solution, requiring warming prior to use. It will also require occasional filtering to remove solid platinum metal left over from the making of the platinum salt. You may also see another by product of manufacturing; a small amount of a yellow platinum salt. This should be filtered out as well, as it may lead to small lines in the finished print. This solution, when stored in a brown bottle, has an indefinite shelf life.

Palladium Chloride  (Sodium Tetrachloropalladite - Na2PdCl4)

    To prepare the palladium solution add 3.5 grams of sodium chloride to 35 ml of warm distilled water (90F). Now add 5 grams of palladium chloride to that solution.  You should then add water to bring the total volume to 40 ml. This solution, when stored in a brown bottle and has an indefinite shelf life.  Another option is to use Sodium tetrachloropalladite.  This palladium salt already has the NaCl added.  If you use this chemical, mix 8.5 grams to make 40 ml of warm distilled water (90F).  You will also obtain good results if you make 50 ml of solution instead of 40 ml.  The resulting prints will be a little cooler.  I have even seen this mixed at a rate of 5 grams of palladium chloride with 3.5 grams of sodium chloride into 65 ml of water that produced reasonable results.

Ferric Oxalate  ( 25% solution) [Making Ferric Oxalate]bullet

    The ferric oxalate solution consists of 7.5 grams of ferric oxalate powder, 25 ml distilled water, and .3 grams of oxalic acid. Add the ferric powder to 20 ml of distilled water warmed to 90F to 110F.  Stirring constantly, add the oxalic acid. Now add water to bring the total volume to 25 ml. Although the addition of the oxalic acid is optional, it  prevents the formation of ferrous ions and extends the life of the solution;  it will also change the pH of the solution slightly.  This solution may be refrigerated to extend its shelf life, which is approximately four months un refrigerated.  These mixing instruction are based on a powdered ferric oxalate purchased from B&S, these amounts may change based on your supplier. Keep adding small amounts of oxalic acid until your solution in clear, not cloudy.

    This product is available commercially from several sources, but it can be made in your lab at home.  An excellent resource for making ferric oxalate is Making Kallitypes - A Definitive Guide, by Dick Stevens that lists "The Three Best Ways of Making Ferric Oxalate."  Of the three listed methods, I prefer the use of ferrous ammonium sulfate, 30% hydrogen peroxide, and oxalic acid.  Great care should be taking when making your own ferric oxalate as many of the chemicals and reactions are very hazardous.


    The coating solution is made up of the ferric oxalate, metal salts (platinum and/or palladium), and many times will include a contrast agent, typically potassium chlorate or hydrogen peroxide. The volumes of ferric oxalate to metal salts should be equal or slightly more ferric than metal salts.  For example, if 1 ml of ferric oxalate is used an equal 1 ml portion of noble salts should be used.  In practice, I have seen a wide variety of concentrations of solutions used to produce reasonable prints, some with much more apparent metal salts, and others apparently equal ferric oxalate to metal salts.  I recommend the solutions as outlined in the chemical section above with a 10% increase in the amount of ferric oxalate used in comparison to noble salts to make the coating solution.  The equation for the coating solution is A with B = the coating solution
Where A = Ferric Oxalate without potassium chlorate, B = Noble Salts of platinum and/or palladium salt.

    The volumes of solution needed to coat the paper will depend on several factors.  A reasonable starting point is 1.1ml of ferric oxalate with 1 ml of noble salts to coat an 8" x 10" printing area (about 9" x 11", or about 99 sq./in.).  Different papers will require more or less solution as do different coating methods, but the proportions of the chemicals remain the same.  The type of paper and the type sizing will also affect the amount of coating solution needed.

    Other possible additives to the coating solution include 3% hydrogen peroxide, or potassium chlorate.  Both of these influence the contrast of the print.  The 3% hydrogen peroxide solution can be added to the coating solution at very small rate, .05 ml -- or 1 drop from a standard dropper -- increase the contrast of your print.  This amount will have a noticeable impact at an 8" x 10" size print.  If you find that a drop adds too much contrast, make a dilute solution that allows smaller adjustments in contrast. If you find that it adds too little contrast, you can use more.  Using hydrogen peroxide will slightly warm the print, and adds very little if any grain.  Since it is relatively cheap at $.50 a bottle, a fresh bottle should be used after 2 or 3 months, and diluted solutions should be discarded after the printing session.  It is very important to the life of your Hydrogen Peroxide to keep the cap securely fastened when not in use.

    If potassium chlorate is included in the coating solution to add contrast, it will generally appear as B in the following formula. [A + B] with C = the coating solution     Where A = Ferric Oxalate without potassium chlorate, B = Ferric Oxalate with potassium chlorate, and C = platinum and/or palladium salt.  It can be added to the ferric at a rate of .01 gram to .06 gram per 25 ml of ferric oxalate. It can also be mixed separately and added in the same manor as the hydrogen peroxide.  The down side of using potassium chlorate as a contrast agent is added grain.

    Gold chloride in concentrations of 1% to 3% solution can be added to the coating solution.  The addition of Gold Chloride will change the color and the contrast of a print.  As a starting point, the amount of gold chloride added should be 5% to 15% of the combined amount of platinum and palladium.  The more platinum you use in the coating solution, the stronger (closer to 3%) the solution of gold chloride can be to produce an effect.  Gold Chloride will produce a violet to purple color in the print.


    As earlier mentioned, you have several options when choosing a developer for the Noble prints.  The most commonly used developers are potassium oxalate based and ammonium citrate.  Potassium oxalate is a warmer tone developer than ammonium citrate.  The smell is also not nearly as bad as the ammonia based developer.  However, with both, prolonged exposure can cause breathing difficulties, and, they should be used only in well ventilated darkrooms. Other developers include; sodium acetate, sodium citrate, potassium sodium tartrate (Rochelle salt), sodium carbonate (hot), and sodium phosphate.

E. J.'s Formula
    I have been formulating my potassium oxalate developer from Potassium carbonate and oxalic acid.  The formula is 2lbs of carbonate with 1.75lbs oxalic acid to make 1 gallon of developer.  First warm a bit less than 3 quarts of distilled water to 100F.  Slowly add the carbonate with stirring until all is dissolved.  Then slowly add the oxalic acid to the potassium carbonate solution; it will bubble or effervesce quite a bit.  Keeping adding the oxalic acid until the bubbling stops.  This is used warm or cool.

    My extra warm tone developer is a potassium oxalate based developer. I have made some modification to the standard 500 grams to 1.5 liters of water.  I mix 280 grams potassium oxalate, 20  grams of sodium phosphate dibasic, and 6 grams oxalic acid, with 800 ml of distilled water warmed to 120F to 140F. Then add distilled water to the total volume equal 1 liter.  You can modify the previous developer by simply adding some sodium phosphate dibasic in the appropriate amount.

    The developer is used at 85F for most prints. The developer temperature affects the speed, color, and contrast of your print.  The concentration of your developer also effects the speed and contrast of your print; a more dilute developer will increase contrast and decrease speed.


    The traditional clearing bath for platinum printing is a dilute bath of Hydrochloric Acid (HCL).  It is used in three successive baths of equal strength, each bath clearing the print for three to five minutes with constant agitation.  This works quite effectively.  The HCL can be obtained as muriatic acid at many hardware stores and wherever pool supplies are sold. It is quite inexpensive at about $2.49 a gallon. It is mixed at a ratio of 1 gallon of water with 50 ml of acid, carefully add the acid to the water, stirring constant. DO NOT ADD THE WATER TO THE ACID.  The acid can give off a strong fume and should be mixed with care.  The use of a respirator with safety glasses is recommended.   However it does  react poorly with many modern papers.  So after many years of using  the dilute hydrochloric acid (HCL) as a clearing bath, I now use phosphoric acid or citric acid and a mixture of sodium sulfite and EDTA (tetra sodium). Phosphoric acid is mixed from 75% solution at a rate of 90 ml to a gallon of water.  Citric acid is mixed to a 5 to 10% solution and used as the first clearing bath.  The sodium sulfite and EDTA mixture are used as the second and third clearing baths.  They are mixed at 10 grams each with water to make 1 liter of solution. They are also used with constant agitation for two baths of 5 to 10 minutes each.  I have also used EDTA discoid in place of the tetra sodium with good results and in fact it may be better to use it as a second bath and tetra sodium in the third bath. The pH of these solutions are much friendlier to the paper and the clearing action is quite good. Citric acid is much less hazardous than the HCL bath as are sodium sulfite and EDTA.  This does not mean that they should not be handle with care. As with all chemicals, safety should always come first.


    In creating the Noble print, the printer affects the image with each choice that is made:  type of paper, percentages of each metal salt, type and temperature of developer, films used for the negatives and positives, etc.   The coating surface I use is made of Formica, which provides a smooth, cleanable surface.  I tape the paper in place on the coating surface, under which the drying box is located.  The coating occurs under a 60 watt bug light.  I use drafting tape or pencil marks to identify the coating area; sometimes I coat the entire piece of paper.  The method chosen depends on whether clean edges or brushed edges are desired in the finished print and on the chosen paper type.

    Once the paper is in position, I prepare the coating solution.  Using a separate pipette for each solution, typically 2 ml pipettes measured in 1/100, I draw the needed amount of ferric oxalate into the pipette and place it into a shot glass used only for this purpose.  I then draw the palladium and platinum metals and deposit them with the ferric oxalate, and swirl the solution.  The platinum and palladium can be pre-mixed at a standard combination.  Whichever method that you choose, always use the same one for mixing your platinum and palladium to insure constant results.  If you do mix the platinum and palladium salts together before adding the ferric, the mixture will mature and have a warmer, slower effect than if the metal salts are kept separate and added one at a time to the coating solution.  I usually use a 50/50 mix.  Typically, the more platinum salts used in the mixture, the cooler the prints are, while the more palladium used, the warmer they appear.  The amounts of platinum and palladium metals also will control the contrast of the print.  Platinum will add contrast and palladium will lower contrast.

    Warm both the platinum and palladium salts  before use to assure that the solutions have no undissolved solids.  This is done by keeping a container of warm water near the coating area and leaving the bottles with the platinum and palladium solutions in it when not in use.  You can use a hot plate or beverage heater, or just keep reheating a small amount of water in a microwave oven.

    I moisten the foam brush with distilled water from a spray bottle. After shaking the excess water from the brush (to achieve the desired amount of moisture in the tip), I add the desired contrast agent needed for that print, if any. I swirl the solution a little more and if desired, add gold chloride.  I swirl the solution still more. If I use the ammonium based platinum salt, I  do not use Hydrogen peroxide as a contrast agent as it is not compatible with the ammonium based platinum process.

    I am now ready to apply the solution to the paper.  For small prints, under 16" x 20", I do not wear a fume mask. I do, however, wear one with organic filters for print sizes over 16" x 20", especially if partial drying of the paper is to be done using a hair dryer(s) or if I'm making many coatings that day.

    As with a proper golf swing, I waggle to get set in front of the paper, and then I pour the solution onto the paper. The waggle (to get comfortably set) is important on bigger prints due to the need to cover a larger area in a short amount of time.  The pattern that the solution is poured on the paper is influenced by the size and type of paper.

    Starting with many short stokes and proceeding to full length strokes, I quickly, lightly, and evenly move the solution over the entire paper. An occasional up or down stroke (but not both) may be taken at the ends of the coating area to help smooth the over coating at the ends.  I have used this method to coat paper for printing up to 32" x 42".

    The paper is then dried.  While some papers are put directly into the drying box, others are allowed to soak in for short time. I use a drying box to dry the paper, although the use of a hair drier is OK. The drying box consists of a heater and a fan that circulates the warm air inside.  Keep the temperature inside  at 100F.  The time inside, once again, depends on the size and type of paper; 10 minutes is normal.  If your printing area will not allow for the use of a drying box, dry the paper with a hair drier. Dry the coated side for 1 to 2 minutes on medium heat, and then backside for about 5 minutes on high.  After drying, hang the paper  in a humidifying closet, which is kept at 58%, +/- 3%, for an appropriate length of time, 5 to 10 minutes.

    Place the paper  with the negative between the printing glass and base and under the light source. For prints 16" x 20" and larger, I use a sheet of 1/2" glass, 28" x 36" or a vacuum easel.  For exposures with the plate glass, the base is solid and has a soft cloth to assure a flat, even pressure for paper-to-negative contact.  Vacuum frames and contact printing frames are also good choices for holding the negative and paper together.  The use of a contact frame that allows the printer to inspect the exposed paper without losing registration, gives the printer the ability to inspect the exposure.  This permits the printer to judge the exposure and facilitates the printer to make fewer tests.

    Negatives may require specific exposure controls, such as dodging and burning to achieve a satisfactory print.  The use of  printing masks may be employed.  The mask can be made from a variety of different materials.  I currently use a bank of twelve 40" Super Actinic bulbs.  The printing distance is 4" from the bottom of the tubes to the top side of my glass.  Unlike many manufactured light units, this gives me room to do additional dodging and burning to fine-tune the print.  The lamps are pre-warmed for 10 minutes before the exposure starts.  Florescent lamps change their light output at different temperatures, so it is necessary to warm the lamps up before exposing the paper.  They should not however be allowed to built up to much heat.  Small fans may be used to vent the heat away.

    To develop the print, I maintain my developer at a temp of 85F in a one-gallon jug.  I pour it into the tray just before  placing the paper in the tray.  I process the print approximately 2 to 3 minutes.  I carefully pour the developer back into the bottle.  I then gently rinse the print with water several times. I have a reverse osmosis water treatment system for this and mixing of other more critical steps in my darkroom.  This may take up to several minutes.   I then pour the first clearing bath  over the print, where it is cleared for 3 to 5 minutes. As the first clearing bath is working, I place the developer bottle back in the warming tray.

    My present water supply is from the Dallas Municipal water.   I have a Sears water treatment system in place to make distilled water.   I use distilled and/or purified water to mix the clearing bath solutions.  This is to minimize the formation of solids forming in the clearing bath, I have found that prints clear more completely when a "clean" water supply is used, and on thicker paper, like the Platine by Arches, it really helps.  I use two more baths of my sodium sulfite/EDTA mixture after which is another gentle water rinse and then I follow that with a 20-minute wash in a print washer.

    After washing, prints are dried face-up on a fiberglass screen.  Prints are spotted using a mixture of non-fugitive watercolors.  They may also be hand colored with these watercolors.  For spotting, I use a variety of colors to match the print.  Etching is carefully done with a single edge razor blade.  The use of dry mount tissues, lacquer over sprays, and other processes that are not proven to be archival are not recommended.  Prints can be displayed mounted and matted.  Many prints can be shown without over mats using deckled edges and floating the paper in the frame.

    An often over looked aspect of noble prints is edge treatment.  The edge treatment allows the printmaker to give the print many different qualities, ranging from clean edges with the print floating on an oversized paper, to expressive brush stokes (example of edge treatment).  These may even be carried all the way out to the edge of the paper, giving the print all black boarders.  These edge treatments allow for the print to have the clean look of a silver gelatin print or the distinctive handmade quality.

     The platinum process is a living, breathing process.  Small changes sometimes go unnoticed.  The most important aspect of printing is to maintain a repeatable process that makes good prints.  Adaptation is constantly required in small, incremental steps to assure consistent results.  Producing one print is easy.  To you produce 20, 30, or more matching prints of a single image, will require precise control over your environment, temperament, chemicals, and materials.  You'll feel your creative soul captured forever as you master the process.


    I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1959.  My family moved to the Santa Clara Valley in 1962.  After spending my early years studying the French horn and performing with symphonies and bands throughout the San Jose and San Francisco area, I turned my artistic talents toward photography and cinematography.  I have been active in photography since 1978.  Although a real interest in photography didn't develop until I entered college, I received early exposure to photography while attending grade school in San Jose, making contact prints and developing film.

    My involvement in platinum/palladium printing began 1982 when I became Chuck Henningsen's photographic assistant in Portola Valley, California.  Although much of my photographic knowledge was based in traditional B&W and color,  the addition of  the platinum/palladium printing process  to my knowledge base was relatively easy for me because of my background in chemistry.

    In late 1983, I was introduced to Tom Millea, a highly regarded platinum printer and Chuck Henningsen's teacher. Through much of my early platinum printing, I queried Tom for answers to our platinum printing problems.  Since 1983, I have used foam brushes in the coating of paper for print sizes ranging from  4" x 5"  to  30" x 40".

    From 1984 to 1989, while continuing to assist Chuck Henningsen on a part-time basis, I worked part time as the Media Production Specialist for the San Francisco Public School District Special Education Department.  The work involved producing, writing, directing, videotaping, and editing instructional videos.  While in San Francisco my work was shown at the Museum of Modern Art Rental Gallery.  I also put on a multi media show at Fort Mason featuring 80 images.

    In 1990, I moved to Taos, New Mexico, as full-time assistant to Chuck Henningsen.  I was instrumental in Mr. Henningsen's desire to make large platinum prints and designed the coating and drying techniques used in the Henningsen studio.  As Henningsen's only assistant and studio manager, I also operated the E6 processor, 50" Ilfochrome processing machines, maintained the studio equipment, and finished the prints for Henningsen's limited edition prints.

    In early 1991, I met John Stevenson of the soon-to-be opened Platinum Gallery in Santa Fe.  Stevenson had a copy of Michael Ware's research paper on platinum printing from the Journal of Photographic Science, published in June of 1986.  This wonderful resource is a tremendous help in further understanding the platinum/palladium process.  It is, however, quite technical and should be sought out by any serious platinotype printer who has a good chemical background.  Ware's article helped confirm my working solutions to problems in the platinum/palladium process that I encountered due to the move from California to New Mexico.

    I currently live in the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex.  I have set up my studio in the Fair Park area of Dallas.  I have taught workshops in platinum/palladium printing since 1992. Workshop experience includes establishing the Taos Photographic Workshops and  Photographic Workshops de Taos, teaching for the Taos art Institute and running the lab for the Photographers' Formulary Workshops in Montana.  As a teacher, I believe that sharing the information that allows students to form an understanding of the nuances of printing and the creation of perfect images involves years of learning and tremendous dedication.  Every day brings a new situation, and the learning process never ends.  I am  teaching classes at my studio in Dallas, TX. Check out the current schedule here.

        I print in color, both Ilfochrome and the RA4 process, B&W and, of course, platinum.  In my personal platinotypes, I have printed from original negatives ranging in size from 35mm to 4" x 5", producing prints up to 16" x 20".  My commercial platinotypes covers original negatives ranging in size from 35mm to 8" x 10" and prints sizes to 24" x 30".

    My printing experience has provided a wide range of relative humidity in which to work: from the 80% range in California down to the 15% range in New Mexico.  Light sources have included small contact printers, large graphic plate burners, and BL, BLB and Super Actinic black light tubes.

    In addition to printing and teaching the platinum/palladium process,  I also use several other photographic media to render visions from the realms of time and space: the traditional gelatin silver prints, the modern vibrancy of the Ilfochrome (cibachrome) print, and selective coloration of those media to achieve additional depth and feel.

    "Photography provides me the greatest creative expression in my life.  Through photographic images, I attempt to share the feelings that music brings to my soul: serenity, the timelessness of inner and outer spaces, freshness, a sense of belonging to a greater whole."

    A selection of my work can be seen in Taos at the Desurmont Gallery.  It may also be seen at the Platinum Gallery in New York.  My work is also in many private collections.  A list of printing customers includes; Walter Chappell, Douglas Kent Hall, Kevin Bubriski, Walter Nelson and many more.


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