How does platinum adhere to paper in a platinum print?

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by WolfTales, Nov 20, 2009.

  1. WolfTales

    WolfTales Member

    Messages:
    248
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Curious about the platinum printing process since it is more archivable and can achieve some nice tonality - how does one get the platinum to stick to the paper if there is no gelatin involved? How would that make it more archivable?

    Thanks
     
  2. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,865
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    the platinum is absorbed into the paper, it doesn't sit atop the paper but soaks into it.
     
  3. WolfTales

    WolfTales Member

    Messages:
    248
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Wouldnt it just dry and flake off eventually then? Wouldn't there need to be some kind of adhesive?

    Or does the platinum atom bind to the wood pulp on a molecular level?

    Thanks
     
  4. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

    Messages:
    1,873
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2007
    Location:
    London, UK
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    No, it soaks in like watercolour paint does. It doesn't sit on top of a surface like paint or gelatin. The archivability (which isn't a word apparently) is due to pt/pd salts being chemically stable and won't oxidise or react as easily as silver will.
     
  5. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,824
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm
    One way to think of it is as "stained" into the paper. The emulsion is absorbed and bonded in the fibers of the paper. When developed this absorbed emulsion is converted to platinum and palladium metal. It does not sit atop the paper in a substrate as silver gelatin does, but rather for all intents and purposes, becomes part of the paper. As a result Pt/Pd images are absolutely matte. The platinum and palladium image (the pure platinum print is somewhat rare) because it consists of noble metals will far outlast other images, impervious to UV or other causes of fading, pretty much lasting unchanged as long as the paper will. Pt/Pd images are among the most durable things ever created by humans.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2009
  6. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,075
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Bear in mind that the papers one uses for Pt/Pd are very fibrous; if you take a microscope view you will see a fabric- or sponge-like microtexture. The preferred Pt/Pd papers aren't resin-coated. So there are all kinds of nooks and crannies for the adsorbates to adhere... even the smoothest papers that one uses for Pt/Pd. I think if you look with high magnification you will see a spider web of paper fibers and particles trapped in place. The wet solution goes into the paper because the moisture relaxes the paper, just like a sponge. And so the moisture transports the particles in.... and then as it dries the paper restiffens and entraps the particles, so to speak.

    At the micron scale there may be some hydrophobic and salt like interactions going on, I'm not sure. But I can confidently say, even from my limited experience, that the extent of moisture in the paper at the time of coating is a critical part of getting the coating process to work. If the paper is dry and dusty then the process won't work well at all.
     
  7. WolfTales

    WolfTales Member

    Messages:
    248
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Wow - just amazing

    Thanks
     
  8. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

    Messages:
    1,691
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    Saratoga Spr
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Matt is exactly right - the platinum solution is absorbed into the fibers of the paper. In fact, that's one of the the things that makes platinum prints distincly different from silver prints. In silver prints, the image is a highly one-dimensional layer on top of the paper, and in fact Kodak used to talk about techniques in which the emulsion layer could be stripped from a print and adhered to some other support.

    But with platinum, the image is embedded deep into the fibers of the print. That gives platinum prints a three-dimensional effect that can't be had with silver. And the choice of paper becomes one of the choices that the printmaker has available to change the nature of the final image. Most platinum prints are made on heavy artist's paper, but there are some beautiful images on super-thin Asian rice paper that are simply gorgeous.

    And because the platinum image can't be attacked by environmental contamination like silver, a platinum image will last as long as the paper it is a part of.
     
  9. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,735
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2003
    Location:
    Jacksonville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    At least one photographer, Craig Koshyk, had been using fixed photo paper for platinum printing. This would produce a glossy print. Don't know if Craig is still doing it. I tried it with Kallitypes, but had solarization problems. I may have to try it with pt/pd.
     
  10. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,075
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I disagree. I use matte fiber and that gives the effect I like, and it is also possible to handcoat silver and get a similar "in the paper" effect.

    Another issue... which annoys some people to hear but for some it is important.... is that the "in the paper" / matte effect is at odds with high DMax. Just saying.... I am a fan of matte fiber though.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2009
  11. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

    Messages:
    266
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pakistan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes, high max with platinum is quite considerably lower than with silverbromide. I have read people noting that one advantage of Kodak Azo was that you get a tonality on a par with platinum, but a higher d-max.

    I also would not describe the effect of a platinum print as three-dimensional, even though the noble metal particles are adhere to the paper fibres. I remember Mike Ware has somewhere some interesting electron microscope pictures published somewhere - might be of chrysotypes, but they work pretty much the same way.

    Platinum paper must also not be too absorbent, or the image becomes flat.

    Regarding the special quality of pt/pd, that seems also to have to do with the way these noble metals reflect light. I don't remember the physical details, something like a linear reflection across the spectre, but I remember a printer who died in an accident some years ago, John Rudiak, writing something like: the best platinum prints seem to emanate light from themselves. This is, I think, a very good description of their special quality, particularly of their highlights - if they are executed properly. And according to my experience, this quality is also noted by people who have no idea of platinum prints, and no special idea of photography (this is somewhat against the notion that the difference between a platinum print and a silver print is only noticeable to the specialist - even though I remember to have seen once or twice a historical silver print which I have mistaken for a platinum print)

    I wonder whether this quality is also visible in Azo prints. I cannot tell. I have not been able to study original Azo prints to this end.
     
  12. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,075
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Interesting. That is the first I'd heard about the particles having a special reflection characteristic. If somebody can tell me what the sizes of the particles are and their chemical state, I can look into it. I do spectroscopy on such things professionally.

    ~~~

    Back to the O.P..... the very special thing about handcoating is that you can pick your paper (and it doesn't even have to be paper). The final result, be it Pt/Pd/silver, a cyanotype or a whatevertype, is highly individual. Setting aside he look completely, the individuality and 'proprietariness' (I still need to find a better word for what I mean) of the print can be very important.
     
  13. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,824
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Depending on paper and humidity it is possible to achieve a pretty high Dmax with Pt/Pd. Silver paper usually appears, however, to have a higher Dmax when all things are equal because of the reflective qualities inherent to the gelatin layer, with glossy prints getting the most Dmax boost compared to the absolute matte effect of coating a watercolor paper, and also because Pt/Pd is very generous in offering details in the darkest parts of a print, which is one of the unique and beautiful aspects of the process. Properly executed, the tonal scale is very long as a result of long shoulder and toe. I believe this character is a contributer some prints "the 3d effect", however IME it is most notable in prints that have bright subjects against dark backgrounds, and not limited to Pt/Pd alone, but prevalent in many kinds of fine printing that have been printed by folks who understand the kind of negative and printing that gives the effect. Large format silver gelatin contact prints often exhibit the same effect with the right subject and printing. I think perhaps the detail inherent in the contact print is a larger factor than the emulsion, particularly when enhanced by contrasting areas of light and dark with good detail in both.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 21, 2009
  14. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,075
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The DMax of Pt/Pd can be increased greatly by applying a coat of resin/varnish etc. The surface texture controls the Dmax; if you get diffuse reflection at the surface then you can't get high DMax.

    Regarding the 3D look... let us not forget that many/most Pt/Pd prints are LF contact prints made with lenses that have some special characteristics. You can certainly get a similar 3D look with silver. It's not like so many printmakers were willign to give up print depth just because silver is cheaper than platinum. On the contrary, the historical drift of photography away from larger formats and contact prints may well be the bigger issue, I think. Smaller gear is more 'convenient' and gives enlarged prints that most find perfectly acceptable... Personally, I find the in/out-of focus tonal transitions in a (big!) negative to be the main contributor to the 3D look.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 21, 2009
  15. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,824
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have heard of some folks waxing platinum prints. Certainly an appealing idea for certain effects, however I wonder if the wax would last near as long as the print, and what would happen if and when it breaks down.
     
  16. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,075
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The are some notes around about Strand's varnished prints yellowing. But there are modern potions (acrylate etc) that will almost certainly not turn colour nor degrade. Recently, I am playing with sandarac, which gives a relatively minor change, but does give an interesting glint and slightly more punchy deep tones. Smells like cheap perfume, unfortunately. I will try PMMA next.
     
  17. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

    Messages:
    266
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pakistan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    These are deep waters. What we are doing with notions like 3-D-effect is to find words for very subjective perceptions when looking at original prints, without actually being able to refer to particular prints in the communication. Still, I think there is a point to be made. Contact printing of large format negatives should inteed contribute very much to the special quaity of platinum prints, and certainly brome silver contact prints also may have a distinct quality. Also, it is sometimes next to impossible to distinguish between a platinum print and a salt print. I seem, however, to be able to get this special alternative or platinum quality also with properly executed enlarged negatives (made, of course, from original large format negs).

    Gold seems to me to be able to form a higher d-max than palladium or platinum (I am aware of the indeed important issues of paper and humidity, though). I think this is one reason why platinum prints were sometimes gold-toned. This is also visible for me when I tone alterative silver prints (salt prints, kallitypes) with gold, and, of course, with chrysotypes at high humidities.

    Regarding varnishing: I have seen this discussed here, and I had the impression of running into some ideological barbed wire at the time. According to my perception, a careful varnish may considerably enhance the luminosity of, say, a platinum prints. It not only enhances the perceived d-max, but also renders visible some shadow details which otherwise fal below the threshhold of visibility. The issue of absolute permanence is there, however, and some varnishes crack very easily on paper, or leave visible traces where the paper has been dented.
     
  18. WolfTales

    WolfTales Member

    Messages:
    248
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Well from the literature I am thumbing through by Dick Arentz on platinum printing, one uses a pyro negative. He shows a side by side comparison of silver with pyro versus platinum with pyro, and the silver example is very similar to my own experiences.

    I believe that some of the staining in pyro helps with the 3d aspect in the shadow regions, but I'm very excited to see the shadow detail open up with platinum so the quest goes on.

    It's also exciting to hear that one can build up on the layers of fiber in the paper to help enhance the 3d effect, as well as the built in luminesence of the metal itself that adds to uniqueness of the medium. Can one print platinum on stretched canvas? That would be grand.

    Lukas - I don't think there's anything too deep about it - I think it's just about how we feel.

    Thank you all so much for the replies - I have a platinum kit on the way and it will be a wonderful next step in detail separation.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2009
  19. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,824
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Moe than anything, the Pyro stain adds density where UV is concerned, helping a neg achieve the thickness needed for Pt/Pd without blocking up.

    As far as "3d effect" it will depend more on the image than anything else, and the idea is subjective at best.

    One can print on all sorts of material, but given the expense, things that soak up emulsion are generally avoided.

    That said, once you dial your process printing Pt will be somewhat of a revelation. It really is a beautiful medium. My best advice is to start small, and enjoy!