This is probably a question for Jorge as I have seen his prints. Jorge... the large pt/pd print that you were kind enough to circulate had a wonderful amount of density that I have not seen in the other Pt/Pd prints.
I am wondering how you manage to get such densities? The other prints that I was fortunate to view seem overall "lighter". These prints are very beautiful in a unique way but when I begin this process I wish to know how I can acheive the density you have in the shadowed or dark areas.
Also I would like to know which paper you are using to create the prints?
Actually in direct contrast to your prints I have been priveleged to see some of William Blunt's work. I really enjoyed what he has done and it seems much lighter or perhaps the word would be "airy" compared to yours. I would be curious to understand the process and perhaps the different papers that both of you use.
Does the paper have much of an effect on the outcome of the print?
Robert was also very generous in sending around a few of his prints. These prints also seem to fit the category of "light and airy" IMHO. Perhaps Robert could also help me to understand the difference between the prints. I especially enjoyed his print of "Nina is a copy of Christopher Columbus ship built in Spain"
Overall I would have to say that all three photographers/printers have done wonderful work but each seems so unique, unlike conventional silver printing.
As a sidebar I would like to mention that William Blunt sent actual finished prints and as such the total layout and printing process was of the highest degree of professionalism. He has a very unique and impressive method for signing his prints.
Thanks to all of you for all of your help and opening my eyes to the Pt/Pd advantages. It is now just a matter of time before "me and my money" are parted.
Jorge hasn't responded yet, but I can address a few density issues with pt/pd. The maximim density that I have seen in a traditional pt/pd print is around 1.5 to 1.55 or so. This involves double coating the paper, and using paper that inherently has a good synergy with pt/pd.
If you single coat the paper, you will max out in the 1.35 to 1.4 range on the same paper. The difference is not great, but the difference in the visual impact is very substantial, especially when you compare them side-by-side.
If you pretreat the paper with oxalic acid it may inprove the depth of the blacks a little. You can also put some PVA in the coating, which will help it resist absorption into the paper. That does improve the blacks a bit, but it is easy to overdo it, and the tonality of the print suffers.
If you use a rod to coat, it is possible to actually not put enough material down on the paper. This will result in anemic density normally. Using brushes will normally not result in too little material, but it is possible to get too much, so that you get wash-off in the developer and clearing baths. This will also reduce density, but it will basically kill the print anywhay, so a print with wash-off is not generally going to ever be shown to others as a suitable print.
If the Moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligned with Mars, all these variables become moot, as every print you do at that time will be perfect and, alas, the results will be unrepeatable the next time.
The other issue is printing style. Some people print in a high-key manner, and others in a more straightforword way. Some people even print on pt/pd in a low-key manner. While these people may not be really getting syubstantially different performance out of the process, the results are radically different due to the way they place tones on the print.
A good example of a high-key printer is Keith Schreiber, a more straight printer would be Dick Arentz, and a low key printer would be Fluor Gardunio. It's hard to appreciate the differences in these printers without seeing actual prints, but I can assure you, thay all are operating within the laws of physics, and the confines of pt/pd printing!
James, Michael has it right in all counts. If you actually took a densitometer and measured the reflection densities of my prints you will see that those areas that are "pure" black have no more than 1.3 RD. And the dark areas with texture only have about 1.1 to 1 RD. The trick is to use what Arentz calls "a convincing black," that is you calibrate your material so maximum black is only 90% of the black possible by the paper. This gives the "illusion" of having very deep rich blacks when, if compared to a silver print, they tones are actually not that black.
I use Socorro paper, and somewhere in this forum you will find a thread where I am bitchin and moaning about this paper. Thanks to Clay's advice of doing a presoak in 2% Oxalic acid I was able to control this paper and get consistent result. But as you state the paper is also very important in the final outcome, I use Socorro because it is the easiest paper for me to get that is not too expensive and has high quality, but from what I understand most people beleive COT 320 and Arches Platine are the papers of choice for printing in pt/pd.
In the beguinning you will have to search for a paper that "fits" your printing style, once you find it stick with it and get it to wrok for you. The temptation to try many different papers is great but my experience as a beguinner is that is best to stay with one paper and learn all you can changing as few variables as possible. Some might disagree with me, but I would say stay away from Cranes Platinotype, somehow it is the paper B&S recommends to people just getting started but I found this paper lacked "punch" and the prints although ok always lacked something that is hard to pinpoint but definitly not there.
Jorge has made a good point about paper selection; It is what you make of it. You have to find a paper that works for your particular style.
I started out using Platinotype, and I do find it an 'easy' paper to print on, especially for beginners. It is very forgiving, and will make a decent print with little coaxing. However, it didn't quite have the snap I was looking for, so I tried a few others. I am now using mostly COT320 or Platine, but this is really a personal decision.
I saw a bunch of prints at the last APIS made by Bob Herbst and also by Nathan Congdon that really blew me away, because I didn't appreciate how Platinotype in the right hands can produce really beautiful prints.
Thanks for the kind comments about my work. The prints you have are probably on several different papers, cranes 90# cover both natural and pearl, cot 320 and cranes wove which is no longer available. I am now using platine and cot 320 with oxalic acid pre-treatment. I have a Dick Arentz print that is on cranes platinotype that you can reach down into up to about your elbow, amazing!
Thanks for the information on the work you sent me. I really, really like the effect that you have achieved. Since that time I have been watching for just the "right shot" and ending with the "right negative" to get the same results.
Christmas is not that far away and I alway say that "the best Christmas presents received are the ones you give yourself" :oops:
I have been attempting (in a very small way) to do digital enlargement of my negatives for Pt/Pd printing. So far not a very satisfying experience. I some how sense that a nice 8x10 camera will be finding it's way to my home soon.
I know that I am hooked on Pt/Pd and it is just a matter of patience and time before I will be doing it myself. I purchased Dick Artnez (sp) book and am fascinated with all of the different factors and controls a printer can use.
Hopefully I will be able to contact you directly once I have all of the equipment and materials to proceed. Thanks again for the wonderful amount of help you have been and for helping me to decide.
A lot of good info in Dick's book, he is now working on an updated version because platinum/palladium is really "taking off" lately with new ways of getting to the end result. Things like pretreating papers with oxalic acid and using new methods of increasing contrast without increasing grain I'm sure will be covered along with a lot of other great info.
A lot of the factors and controls you mention can sometimes drive you crazy, that's my excuse anyway.
Good luck and hope to hear from you