INTRODUCTION - ST. FRANCOIS MOUNTAINS PURE PLATINUM PRINT PROJECT

On May 02, 2016, I officially announced that I am photographing the ancient 1.5 billion-year-old ancient landscape of the St. Francois Mountains and creating collectible hand-made pure platinum prints. 

The St. Francois Mountains located in the Ozarks in Southeastern Missouri in the United States are home to a historically and geologically significant landscape.  The St. Francois are a range of Precambrian igneous mountains rising over the Ozark Plateau. This range is one of the oldest exposures of volcanic rock in North America.

The extraordinary saga of St. Francois Mountains started nearly 1.485 billion years ago when they were formed by volcanic and intrusive activity.  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.

All landscapes have a history.  There are distinct voices and languages that belong to particular areas.  There are voices inside the rocks, shifting skies, and trees.  

BEHIND THE SCENES & SOCIAL MEDIA

I am excited to open up my creative process and share it with you.  You can follow along on my Facebook Page and view behind the scenes photos and videos on my website and I also send out exclusive updates to my Black & White Fine Art Newsletter subscribers.  You may be interested in my Nature Matters! Newsletter as well.  

In this movie, I show and discuss two of my artist proofs.

Watch this movie of me making the first artist proof of the Rocky Creek Shut-ins.

Watch this movie of me making a test print which explains some of the details of the Platinum Printmaking Process

In the movie, I show you the steps I go through to make custom handmade frames for the St. Francois Mountain Print Project

PURCHASING INFORMATION

I have been receiving messages asking about the ability to purchase platinum prints for this project.  At this time, I have artists proofs available.  If you are interested in purchasing an artist proof, email me and I will answer any questions that you may have.  The pure platinum prints for this project will be offered as a limited edition.  At this time, I am thinking a limited edition of 25, but I will confirm this in the near future.  I will be taking a digital photograph of each handmade print and placing it into the gallery as I create them.  All of the technical information, to include pricing will be available at that time.   

WHY PHOTOGRAPH THE ST. FRANCOIS MOUNTAINS?

I feel compelled to photograph this landscape because of the impact this area has on me and also because of the historical and geological significance. It boggles my mind that the area that I live and explore was formed by volcanic activity 1.5 billion years ago!  The world is running headfirst into digitizing every aspect of modern life while I am stepping back and creating fine art prints with basic raw materials and film-based large format view cameras.  There is no computer or digital technology involved in the creation of my artwork.  This approach feels right to me and appropriate for this subject. Buyers of my art know they are getting something of value that I created with my hands.   

Pure platinum prints can last for millennia, making it the most permanent of all photographic prints.  People today, and possibly thousands of years from now can hold my prints in their hands and view the ancient landscape in the St. Francois Mountains at the turn of the 21st century.  I feel like it is my responsibility and creative calling to photograph this landscape and share it through the ethereal beauty and archival permanence of pure platinum prints.

I will be using my large format view cameras to create the negatives for my prints.  The photo of me at the top of this page is the camera that I will be using.  I use large format film negatives because they allow me to create the highest quality prints.  

I will be using a wide variety of lenses, ranging from 19th-century soft focus brass lenses employed by the Pictorialists of the 19th and 20th centuries, to modern coated lenses that are capable of recording magnificent details.

I am hand coating my emulsion on a special paper from Europe.  The paper I am using is acid-free, unbuffered, and free from contaminants and optical brighteners. This papers purity and overall quality are unparalleled.  The slight texture of this paper has a pleasant feel when you hold my fine prints in your hands.  I create pure platinum prints, not a mixture of platinum and palladium.  This is an important point that is relevant to buyers and collectors.  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 GUIDE TO PLATINUM PRINTS

First Pure Platinum test print on Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag paperFirst Pure Platinum test print on Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag paperFree Darkroom Newsletter for Analog Photographers - The Darkroom Underground, Your Analog Photography Magazine "The platinum print has an indescribable charm, suggesting atmosphere, though the negative printed on another medium may be entirely devoid of this valuable pictorial quality." -Alfred Stieglitz

It has been my experience that people tend to collect things for a couple of key reasons.  The first is rooted in value, and the other is steeped in beauty and appreciation.  Pure platinum prints are one of the few collectibles that transcend both domains in fine art photography.  

I want to make sure the vast majority of people that want to collect a platinum print can do so.  For this project, I am creating a limited edition of 25 prints from each plate.  Each print will be signed, dated, and numbered along with a certificate of authenticity.

Although challenging and costly to create, pure platinum prints are the sine qua non of photographic art. Platinum is currently selling for approximately $1,000 per ounce.  Once experienced, the platinum print is usually a visual revelation for most people.  The rare and precious metal along with the tremendous tonal range makes platinum prints extraordinary, especially in a world where almost every aspect of humanity is digitized.  The ability to hold a handmade fine art print in your hand is increasingly special in our modern digitized world.   

Unlike the darkroom silver gelatin print, platinum lies on the paper surface, while silver lies in a gelatin emulsion that coats the paper. As a result, since no gelatin sizing is used, the final platinum image is absolutely matte with a deposit of platinum absorbed slightly into the paper giving the print a unique signature. This signature is what gives pure platinum prints a depth that is unlike any other type of fine art print.  In 1873, thirty-four years after the discovery of modern photography, the platinum process of printing photographs was patented by William Willis Jr.  

Platinum's use in photography was interrupted by the World Wars. At the outbreak of World War I, platinum abruptly could no longer be obtained. Russia had almost 90 percent of the world's supply, and what little platinum was available went into strategic needs of the war. When peace was won, and as the world returned to normal, platinum was prominently resurrected by Alfred Stieglitz, who printed mostly on platinum and palladium papers. There are no longer platinum coated papers, so I have to hand select my paper for each print and coat it by hand.  

Platinum prints are connected to some of the world's finest photographers and master printers.  Stieglitz's protégés Paul Strand and Clarence White were platinum printers. Edward Weston used platinum and palladium papers throughout his early, greatest period; Edward S. Curtis, Irving Penn, Manuel Alvarez Bravo and most of the greats in the history of photography have all produced beautiful images in platinum.

 

 

PROJECT BLOG POSTS

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

Platinum Printing Overview

Essay 13 - Why Platinum Prints?

Platinum Printmaking - A Chemical Introduction

First Test Print of Rocky Creek on Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag Paper

Video of my First Pure Platinum Print on Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag Paper

 

BEHIND THE SCENES PHOTOS & VIDEOS

You can view some candid snapshots and videos that we created over the course of the project.  

Video - Exploring the St. Francis River and Tiemann Shut-ins