How To Clear Your Platinum & Palladium Prints Effectively & Cheaply Using a 100 Year Old Process

February 28, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

How To Clear Your Platinum & Palladium Prints Effectively & Cheaply by Tim LaytonHow To Clear Your Platinum & Palladium Prints Effectively & Cheaply by Tim Layton After you develop your platinum or platinum and palladium print, you need to be very careful to clear the print before doing the final archival wash.

The method that I am going to share with you today is a time-tested proven process that has been used by photographers since the late 19th century and so we know it works. 

The best part is that the chemicals for this method are easy to find, inexpensive, and very easy to use.  

I have a detailed step-by-step quick start guide that includes everything that you need to know for making beautiful platinum and palladium prints.  

Developing a Platinum & Palladium Print by Tim Layton


Warming Platinum developer by Tim LaytonWarming Platinum developer by Tim Layton All you need is a supply of citric acid to make a 3% solution.  To make a 3% citric acid solution, simply weight out 30g for every 1000ml of distilled water. You can use your local tap water to clear your prints, but I don't and you have to make that call for yourself.  I sell my platinum prints to collectors all over the world and I have never had a single print show any signs of issue. 

If you don't have a proper scale, then 30g is equal to about 2 tablespoons.

Citric acid easy dissolves in water, so you won't have any issue getting to to dissolve correctly.  I personally put about 500ml of distilled water in a beaker on my magnetic stirrer.  Before I add the 500ml of water, I place the magnetic bar in the bottom and then pour the water in the beaker.  Next, I turn on the magnetic stirrer and then I add the 30g (2 tbsp) of dry citric acid.  After that is complete, I add the remaining 500ml of distilled water and let everything mix for a couple of minutes.  I pour the mixed solution in my tray.  

I use a three tray clearing bath protocol after development, so I mix up three 1 liter batch of this for my 8x10 prints that I place on 11x14 paper. 

If you want to use an easier mixing method, you can must place the 30g (2 tbsp) of citric acid in each of your three trays and add the 1000ml of water and use something like a plastic spoon to stir it around until it dissolves.  I make silver gelatin emulsion, so I have all the proper lab equipment at my disposal, so I use it, but it isn't necessary.


Platinum Printing by Tim LaytonPlatinum Printing by Tim Layton STEP 1: Place your developer print in the 1st clearing bath and agitate it continuously for at least 5 minutes.

STEP 2: Move your print to the 2nd clearing bath and continuously agitate for another 5 or more minutes. 

STEP 3: Move your print to the 3rd clearing bath and continuously agitate for another 5 or more minutes.

And that is all there is to it.  Now, I place the cleared print in a fresh tray of distilled water for about 5 or more minutes before moving to my archival washer for one hour.  

After clearing a few prints, you will begin to notice your first clearing bath will start to become a light yellow color. This is all perfectly normal and what should happen.  You don't want this yellow color to appear in your second and especially not in your third bath. 

Once my second bath starts to show the first signs of yellow, I empty my first tray and rinse it out.  Then I pour the second bath into the first tray.  Then, I pour my third bath into the empty second tray.  Now, I take that empty tray and mix up a fresh clearing bath as noted above and make that my third bath.  I keep this process going for as long as I am working and making prints for each session. 

This method has been proven to be effective since the late 19th century, so don't think you need to spend money on more expensive chemicals.  You just need to follow the protocol as described above and you will never have an issue.  If you become lazy and don't change out your clearing baths as described above, then of course issues can arise down the road with your prints. 

If you have limited space, or you are making large prints and can only spare the room for one tray, you can just mix up three jugs of citric acid solution as described above and use them with the single tray. 

As a final check after your third clearing bath, look at your highlights and make sure they are clear and paper white without any type of discoloration that would typically be yellow in nature. 

Wild Horses of Missouri Platinum Print "The Nomads" by Tim LaytonWild Horses of Missouri Platinum Print "The Nomads" by Tim Layton Wild Horses of Missouri Platinum Print "Heavy Burden" by Tim LaytonWild Horses of Missouri Platinum Print "Heavy Burden" by Tim Layton

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