My First Project in my New Off Grid Darkroom - Ancient St. Francois Mountains

May 02, 2016  •  3 Comments

I have officially moved to my land and the new off-grid darkroom that I have been building for the last six months.  Things are going to be a mess for a little while, but I am not going to let that stop me from starting my new project.  I can organize and clean as I go!  At least that is what I am telling myself right now. 

I am beyond excited to officially announce my new project for 2016.  You can view my project page for more details.  I am going to be photographing and creating pure platinum prints of the ancient St. Francois Mountains landscape.  

You can view and purchase my Platinum Histograph Heirloom Fine ArtTM gallery prints from my online gallery.  You can visit my Platinum Printmaking page to learn more about how I create my Platinum Histograph Heirloom Fine Art Prints. 

This move to the wilderness is monumental for me in a number of ways.  I decided to drastically downsize my life so that I could pursue my passion; telling nature's story through black and white fine art darkroom photography.  I no longer have to juggle as many things because of the reduced financial requirements which directly translates into higher quality work.  One of the most important things that I gain from this move is time freedom.  I have the ability to pursue the projects that are important to me.

From a creative perspective, this feels like I am starting over, but with 30 years of experience!  I feel really excited about the possibilities moving forward and I am ready to jump in and get things started.  A simplified off-grid lifestyle isn't for everyone, but I am more than willing to trade the extra physical work and unexpected surprises for the ability to create with very few distractions.  

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The St. Francois Mountains in southeast Missouri are a range of Precambrian igneous mountains rising over the Ozark Plateau. This range is one of the oldest exposures of igneous rock in North America.  The St. Francois Mountains were formed by volcanic and intrusive activity 1.485 billion years ago. By comparison, the Appalachians started forming about 460 million years ago, and the Rockies a mere 140 million years ago. When the Appalachians started forming, the St. Francois range was already twice as old as the Appalachians are today.

These ancient mountains may be the only area in the American Midwest never to have been submerged, (as evidenced by the lack of marine fossils) existing as an island archipelago in the Paleozoic seas. Fossilized coral, the remains of ancient reefs, can be found among the rocks around the flanks of the mountains. These ancient reef complexes formed the localizing structures for the mineralizing fluids that resulted in the rich ore deposits of the area.


For my new project, I will be exploring and photographing the ancient St. Francois Mountains located in the Ozark Mountain Area in Missouri.  I will be using my 8x10 large format view camera and I will be making pure platinum prints.

Platinum printing is one of the oldest photographic processes, dating back to the 1870’s. It is noted for its subtlety in rendering the tonalities of the middle grays in particular, and many have described their viewing experience as three-dimensional. Platinum is the most archival of all photographs, and it is impervious to light fading and acid damage.  A platinum print it is capable of lasting thousands of years without change. In fact, the platinum never changes, only the paper that it is suspended on can change.  No other type of print, analog or digital, has the emotional impact and elegance of a platinum print in my opinion.

I certify and disclose the exact materials for every limited edition print that I sell.  A test with an XRF X-Ray fluoroscopy scope will verify the specific chemical makeup of any print, and a test will validate that my prints are pure platinum.

Collectors and curators know that making a pure platinum print is a delicate and elusive art form that requires significant skill and knowledge.  Collectors understand the skill and persistence it takes to create a body of work via the pure platinum process.  

There are no shortcuts to mastering the platinum printmaking process.  Chemists and other photographers discovered by mixing palladium with platinum or only just using palladium in place of platinum, that this provided a remedy for many of the routine obstacles and troubles experienced by photographers.  I made the choice to master my craft and by combing my skill and knowledge with the finest materials, I create pure platinum prints that I am very proud to exhibit and share with others.


The timeline for the project started in May and it will most likely run through the end of the summer and into the fall season.

I tested three negative mediums and a few different developers for this project to help me determine which combination is the best fit.  I decided to use Kodak Ektascan B/RA X-Ray film developed in Rodinal. 

The most exciting part of this project for me is that I will be photographing this ancient landscape so future generations will be able to see how it looked during the turn of the 21st century.  I am creating pure platinum prints because of their astounding archival properties and their incredibly long tonal scale.  

My pure platinum printing process allows me to present the ancient landscape of the St. Francois Mountains in a way that I could not do with any other medium.

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Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Alberto, thank you very much for your kind words and support. I really appreciate it. Stay in touch.
Alberto Ríos(non-registered)
Tim, I really, really congratulate you for the great decision you have taken. Only few take this quality, brave route. Reading your text made me feel proud of photography. Your work and name will be well appreciated by those future generations you are caring for.
Rolf Schmolling(non-registered)

enjoy your work! R.
No comments posted.

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