I get a lot of questions about my platinum prints and how I achieve my "look". Long story short, it comes down to a few variables, with my choice of a developer being central to my creative expression. In addition to creating platinum/palladium and palladium prints, I also create the sought after pure platinum fine art print.
First, I should explain what "pure platinum" means in my world. I made the decision after creating a variety of platinum prints to only use platinum salts for my fine art gallery prints. This means that I do not use any palladium salts in my prints which are known to make it a little easier to make Pt/Pd prints, and also it produces a different aesthetic (e.g., tone, dynamic range, etc.). I have created several hundred Pt/Pd and Ziatype prints over the years too. I have also tested Pt/Pd with Na2 as the restrainer in the sensitizer and Potassium Dichromate in the developer.
MY PLATINUM DEVELOPER
After a lot of trial and error over time, I have settled on separating the restrainer from my platinum sensitizer. In other words, I don't use Potassium Chlorate in my sensitizer, and I don't use Na2 because this would only be relevant for Palladium printing.
I use Potassium Dichromate in Potassium Oxalate in varying amounts to control my contrast. This is the traditional approach dating back to the very beginning of platinum printing. I made my decisions based solely on print quality and my creative interpretation. I now have a highly controlled process for creating my pure platinum prints that allow me to pre-visualize in the field when I am exposing my films.
If you go back and read the old literature about using Potassium Oxalate in Potassium Dichromate, you will find that photographers used a wide range of dilutions. I settled on a 10% solution for my restrainer in a 25% solution of my developer. Then for each "grade" of developer, I mix the restrainer by volume to achieve different contrasts. I have a total of 8 developers that I use ranging from very contrasty to extremely thin. Based on the negative that I am printing, I select a starting developer and then based on feedback, I make modifications until I am able to produce that print that I have in my mind.
I have formally tested Kodak Ektascan B/RA X-Ray film, HP5+, and FP4+ as my negative mediums for my platinum and platinum/palladium printmaking. I use a custom-built UV printer to expose my platinum prints. I created a video workshop where I walk photographers through every step in the design and build process to create their own UV printer for a fraction of the cost of a commercial version.
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