Cost of platinum printing??

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Tom Stanworth, Sep 5, 2004.

  1. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    I have never contact printed, buy have been very impressed by many of Kerik unpronouncables platinum prints. What sort of costs are involded in the printing side (Once of course you have bought a brand new 12x20 etc). I am keen to have a go, so long as I dont have to flog the car to pay for it.

    Tom
     
  2. donbga

    donbga Member

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    An 8x10 palladium print will cost you roughly $4 - $5 for each print in materials. You can do the math for a 12x20 print.

    Don Bryant
     
  3. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    If you have to ask, you can't afford :D

    That's just the print materials. Check out www.unblinkingeye.com. I wrote an article about how much you need to invest to get started in alternative processes. Title is "Alternative Process Quick Start."
     
  4. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Consider also starting first with kallitype and tone your prints with platinum or palladium. A Pt./Pd. toned kallitype can look identical to a true Pt./Pd. in tonal qualities, color and Dmax and offers virtually the same level of permanence. However, since it takes only about 1/5 or less of the Pt./Pd. metal to tone a kallitype as it takes to make a true Pt./Pd. the cost difference is quite large. And since many of the working procedures are identical for both processes if you learn kallitype first you will find the transistion to Pt./Pd. quite easy.

    I have the contrast controls for the two processes adjusted so that I can use kallitype to proof for Pt./Pd. so that all I have to do is make the best kallitype possible, then change the exposure to reflect the fact tht Pt./Pd. is slighly less sensitive. This procedure is especially useful when making large prints.

    Sandy
     
  5. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    Dear Tom pronouncable,

    Thanks for your kind words. If you use mostly palladium and very little or no platinum and buy your metal salts in relatively large quantities from a supplier like Englehard, pt/pd can be VERY inexpensive. I can make a 12x20 palladium print for roughly $5.

    ~ 3 ml palladium $1.75
    ~ 3 ml ferric oxalate $0.50
    1 sheet Fabriano Artistico $2.00

    And even if I use a paper that requires double-coating for best results, it's still very affordable. It's also a lot of fun once you get dialed in.

    Good luck,
    Kerik Kouklis (kook'-lis)
    www.kerik.com
     
  6. Mateo

    Mateo Subscriber

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    Mr. Kerik,
    Does Englehard sell small quantities to individuals? I hope this is on topic enough.
     
  7. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Cheers everyone for your help! It is much less expensive than I thought, which is always good!

    Tom
     
  8. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    Mr. Mateo,

    I don't remember what their minimum order is, maybe $500. The best price per gram is around the $1,000 level. The thing to do is put together a group buy with other platinum printers. Last year I put together a buy for a group that amounted to $4,500 of palladium. I ended up with enough palladium to last me a few years for about 1/3 the Bostick & Sullivan price at the time. If you're just looking to buy 25 or 100 ml, you may as well get it from B&S.

    Kerik
     
  9. sanking

    sanking Member

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    I believe the minimum order is either 50 or 100 grams. But that represents a minimum of about $500 to $1000, depending on current cost of the metal (which varies on a day to day basis and is not locked down until your order is processed). There are several price breaks as you increase the amount of the order, to the point where the metal will eventually get down to somewhere between 6-7 dollars per gram, or even less for really big orders. However, bear in mind when you talk to the folks at Engelhard that even an order for $5000 amounts to little more than chicken feed for them so they don't have a lot of incentive to process small orders.

    Having joined in Kerik's order of last year, and put together another one of my own later in the year, there are indeed significant savings in cost to be realized for those willing to place a large enough order to take maximum advantage of the price breaks. And for best prices you should try to place your order to take advantage of historical lows in the price of the metal itself. However, for someone just getting started in Pt./Pd. printing I agree with Kerik that you are probably better off starting out with the 25-100 ml bottles from a supplier like B&S.

    Sandy
     
  10. Peter Hogan

    Peter Hogan Member

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    Tom, remember that the prices quoted are for guys that have the process nailed. With everything new, there is a learning curve....remember how much paper you got through when you were learning to print silver? You'll get through a lot of pt/pd before you're happy.....
     
  11. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    I too have recently started palladium printing with the B&S kit. It's a good place to start.
     
  12. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    True, but you can greatly reduce the learning curve by attending a workshop. If you can swing it, the best way to learn this type of hands-on process is with someone knowledgable looking over your shoulder. And I'm not just plugging my own workshops - there are many good platinum printers out there you can learn from. Here's a few with general geographic locations off the top of my head:

    Keith Schreiber (arizona)
    Dick Arentz (arizona)
    Clay Harmon (houston)
    Kevin O'Connell (denver)
    Sal Lopes (east coast)
    Eric Neilsen (dallas)
    Nze Christian (belgium?)

    and more I can't think of right now...

    A little googling will turn up more info on all these and other skilled platinologists.

    I teach mostly in California (Yosemite and Placerville), but have plans to teach in Montana and Washington state next year. Possible even the Philippines...

    Kerik Kouklis
    www.kerik.com
     
  13. philsweeney

    philsweeney Member

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    Sandy,

    From your article: "Finally, a well-made kallitype, when toned with platinum or palladium, is for all practical purposes identical in tonal range and color to a true platinum or palladium print."

    What do you prefer in the pt/pd print versus the kallitype?

    phil
     
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  15. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    Hi Kerik. The Philippines huh. How are you going to swing this? I am so interested in doing a workshop with you over there, particularly because I have family in Manila and in Cebu. I am impressed that there could be some demand for PTPD in the Philippines. Certainly not without pic taking opportunities. The colonial villages alone are worth the visit, not to mention that is a fantastic archipelago.
     
  16. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Phil,

    In terms of the final print there is nothing to prefer since a Pt./Pd. toned kallitype is for all practical purposes the same as a regular Pt./Pd. print. Both consist of an image formed of palladium or platinum metal on a paper base. In making a Pt./Pd. toned kallitype you use a silver/iron sensitizing process to make a silver metal image which is then converted to Pt./Pd. metal in toning. In making a regular Pt./Pd. print the sensitizing process is a Pt./Pd./ iron process that produces in one step an image of
    palladium or platinum metal.

    Visually there would be no way to distinguish between a palladium toned kallitype and a regular palladium made from the same negative and processed by someone who understands how to control contrast and color with the two processes.

    From a working perspective there are more steps in making a kallitype print than in making a regular Pt/Pd print and this may result in shorter working time. On the other hand Pt./Pd. is less sensitive than kallitype so exposure times are longer. This can make a big difference in working time in printing in-camera negatives. Clearing is faster with kallitpye but then you have to tone and fix, which is not necessary with regular Pt./Pd. If you make a lot of prints in one session you would probably find regular Pt./Pd. less complicated to work. In my working conditions, which are based on one-tray processing, these factors are pretty much a wash so from start to finish making a 12X20 palladium toned kallitype or a regular palladium print takes about the same time.

    Cost wise it is clearly a lot less expensive to make a Pt./Pd. toned kallitype than a regular Pt./Pd. print. I estimate that the cost of a 12X20 palladium toned kallitype to be about 1/5 that of a regular palladium print, with single coating. More with double coating.

    In terms of archival qualities both a Pt./Pd. toned kallitypes and a regular Pt./Pd. prints are extremely stable and their ultimate survivability probably depend more on how the images were processed, the quality of their paper base, and conditions of storage, than on any slight differences in the mechanism by which they were made.

    Finally, if you work with digital negatives you can use the same curve for both kallitype and Pt./Pd., assuming that you adjust both to the same contrast.

    Ultimately it does not make a lot of difference which process you use because the end result is for all practical purposes the same thing. That is why I suggest that even if your ultimate goal is to make Pt/.Pd. prints you can save a lot of money along the way by learning with kallitype and later using it as a proofing method for Pt/Pd.

    Sandy
     
  17. sanking

    sanking Member

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    I will add two comments to the previous message that migh be seen as reasons to prefer a regular Pt/Pd. print over a Pt/Pd toned kallitype. .

    1. In toning kallitype images with palladium I have found that it is possible to replace or convert something on the order of 97 - 99.5% of the silver to palladium, but not 100% of it. I suspect that the small difference in silver remaining in the toned kallitype would be a much less important factor in archival qualities than how the print is processed, type of paper support, and storage conditions but in the absence of actual samples there is really no way to know.

    2. Persons involved in promoting and selling their work in galleries, etc. would probably do best to stick to Pt./Pd. Although as photographers we may believe that that process matters less than the image, in the marketplace process matters a lot. For a variety of reasons Pt./Pd. prints will attract more attention, and sell better, than Pt./Pd. toned kallitype, all other things being equal.

    Sandy
     
  18. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    Not surprisingly I don't agree with Sandy's assessment. Firstly, the cost of the paper for a 12x20 print is roughly 50% of the materials cost per print. So assuming Sandy's 1/5 cost is correct for the sensitizer, a 12x20 pt/pd print will cost me $4.25 and the same thing in a toned kallitype will cost $2.50. The Kallitype is about 2/3 the price of the pt/pd print, not 1/5. Just want to clarify that...

    Then there is the time factor. Sandy says it takes him roughly the same amount of time to make a pt/pd and a Kallitype. I've done Kallitype myself and found it a much bigger hassle for efficient use of my darkroom time than pt/pd printing. But the hands-on part of the processes are very personal and we are each drawn to different processes for different reasons. For the way I value my time, pt/pd printing is much less costly than Kallitype. Spending a couple extra bucks to make a pt/pd print vs. a toned Kallitype is money well spent, in my opinion.

    As for the Sandy's archival claims, I'm skeptical but have no hard data to disprove him. Over the long haul, will a toned kallitype be as archival as pure pt/pd? Who knows... And, frankly, I don't really care. I'm just saying I'm not sure about the archival issue. In then end it's the look of the print that counts, and hopefully it will have a long and appreciated life! I'm not one of those a "archival freaks". I want my prints to last a long time, but don't obsess about it.

    I'm not trying to say Sandy is 'wrong' on any of this. I respect his abilities and dedication to what he is doing. Clearly he is knowledgable and does what he does well. I simply want to point out that there are different ways to evaluate the cost of a process than dollars and cents.

    To be successful at any of these processes, you really need to enjoy doing them. I love pt/pd printing... I love gum printing... I'm now working with wet plate and loving that as well. Kallitype for me was a PITA.

    Kerik
    --------------
    www.kerik.com
     
  19. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    Sandy,

    Obviously I wrote my last post before I saw this one. No. 1 is interesting. How did you determine those numbers? Laboratory anlayses?

    I agree with you on No. 2, although it really does not come into play for me. Yes, I sell work through galleries, but I use pt/pd because it is faster, easier and much more fun for me than Kallitype.

    Kerik
     
  20. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Kerik,

    I made this determination based on bleaching of untoned kallitype prints and Pt./Pd. toned kallityes. An untoned kallitype in a strong solution of R-14 bleach will be reduced to no image in about five minutes. A Pt./Pd. toned kallitype will retain up to 97-99% of its density after extended bleaching in the same solution. The theory is that toning either converts the silver metal to Pt./Pd., or encapsulates it, and the bleaching tests tend to confirm this. Even chemists disagree about the exact nature of toning but laboratory analysis has been reported that strongly suggests that in toning with gold or Pt./Pd. silver is in fact converted to the more noble metals. In any event the practical result is that toning appears to give a kallitype print the same level of protection from oxidation as a regular Pt./Pd. print.

    However, since the replacement of silver metal with the Pt/Pd. metal is not 100% complete I will concede that a Pt./Pd. print may have some slight advantage in terms of archival quality. But I think it most probable that other factors such as care in processing, quality of the paper support, and method of storage are far more important in the long run to print stability. It is not unusual to hear of silver prints from the last century toned with gold and Pt/Pd. that have survived in pristine condition because of good storage conditions and of Pt./Pd. prints in very bad condition from poor storage conditions. Indeed, even carbon prints on poor supports often show deterioration.


    As for the other issues I would like to address once again the comparative issues of cost, time and stability between making toned kallitypes and Pt./Pd. prints because my experience simply does not agree with yours. Assessments are often based on emotional factors that have little or nothing to do with reality. I agree that in the end one will not be successful with any alternative process unless you love what you are doing, but why one comes to love doing one thing and not another is not always a product of pure reason and logic. You, for example, state that you find kallitype a PITA but love gum printing. I, on the other, see no practical difference in making toned kallitypes and regular Pt./Pd print, but find no pleasure at all in gum printing.

    So we have different opinions about working procedures, but cost and time can be reduced to fact, not opinion, and I have some further thoughts on both.


    Cost — I stand by my earlier estimate that the cost of a toned kallitype print of 12X20” is about 1/5 (and less than that if you double coat) than hat of a regular Pt./.Pt. print. My paper costs, based on buying in quantity, are typically $1.50 to $2.50 per 22X30 sheet, from which one can make two 12X20” prints. So your finding that the cost of paper is roughly 50% of the cost of a print is simply not consistent with my own experience. Price per print will certainly vary with choice of paper but you would have to be paying over $5.00 per sheet of 22X30” paper in order for paper costs and chemistry costs to be the same for a 12X20 print. That is not what I have paid in the past for papers like Fabriano, Stonhenge, Lenox, the various vellums, or even Cot-320.

    Time —As you correctly observe, time is worth something so if it could be clearly established that it takes less time to make a regular Pt/Pd. print than a kallitype I would willingly concede this point. But in my work it does not. There are more steps involved in making a toned kallitype than a regular Pt./Pd. print but when you time the entire sequence of operations it take about the same time to make a large print with either process. In fact, since the exposure time is a significant percentage of the total time involved in making a print, and kallitype is more sensitive than Pt./Pd., the density of the negative being printed has a very big impact on the total amount of time needed to make a print, if you time from the moment of exposure to the end of wet processing. A couple of years ago you and I had this same discussion and I provided a typical flow-chart for making large prints with the two processes that clearly supports the above conclusion.

    If I were making a lot of small images I think it is likely that making regular Pt./Pd prints would go faster, but for making a single large image, say 7X17 or larger, there is really no advantage in terms of time with either process, in my opinion. And my opinion is based on considerable experience in printing the same negative with both processes.

    Sandy
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2004
  21. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    Sandy,

    Clearly this is true, but this horse is dead so I'm going to quit beating it. Our working methods and results are so different that this is becoming pointless to belabor. I'd rather be printing...

    Kerik
     
  22. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Kerik,

    Yes, and I could also more gainfully spend my time with more focused writing projects or by printing. But it never does much harm, other than waste a bit of time, to explain our reasoning in a courteous manner way with people whose opinion and work we respect.

    And bear in mind also that the information in this discussion is presented in answer to questions by others, not to satisfy you or me. We both already know what we want to do and have the knowledge and experience to do it, at least in terms of printing with metal salts. That we should come to different conclusions about minor aspects of the issue does not surprise me, and might prove instructive to others in showing that there are many ways of reaching the same destination.

    Sandy
     
  23. cjarvis

    cjarvis Member

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    Sandy wrote:
    "Even chemists disagree about the exact nature of toning but laboratory analysis has been reported that strongly suggests that in toning with gold or Pt./Pd. silver is in fact converted to the more noble metals."

    What? Silver is in fact converted to the more noble metals? I want the machine you own that converts silver into some other element. Sounds like a cash cow to me...

    Perhaps what you mean is that the reactive silver compounds are combined with the metallic toning compounds to form less reactive compounds (i.e. alloys).

    And while I appreciate the points of view of both Kerik and Sandy, I've found kallitypes, while quite lovely, afford me very little in monetary or time savings.
     
  24. donbga

    donbga Member

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    What attracts me to kallitypes isn't the ability to mimic palladium prints but rather the added creative possibilities given by toning. Similar in some ways to silver gelatin prints.

    Don Bryant
     
  25. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Convert was an inappropriate choice of words. I should have said that the silver is replaced by the noble metal. Another possibility is that the noble metal simply encapsulates the silver.

    One would think that the exact nature of what happens in toning would be known but it apparently is not as there has been very little modern research on toning with gold, palladium and platinum. I exchanged correpsondence last year on this subject with a number of persons who know a lot more about this subject than me and the bottom line is that the reactions are fairly complex and not well understood.

    Sandy
     
  26. cjarvis

    cjarvis Member

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    With whom did you correspond?

    I would imagine that Dr. Michael Ware or someone at IPI (Jim Reilly), RIT or the GEH (maybe Mark Osterman would be a place to start) would have a pretty good handle on exactly what's happening with toning in gold.