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The Print - Is the darkroom dead?

I came across an article in the New York Times magazine recently, written by Teju Cole which stated "Nearly one trillion photographs are taken each year." As there are images coming at you every few seconds "It has become hard to stand still, wrapped in the glory of a single image, as the original viewers of old paintings used to do".

This got me thinking about the "Print" and its place in the digital world. To my mind there is still something magical about a print. Taking this a step further there is a print process, first used in the 1880's know as platinotype or Platinum printing. If you have ever wondered what the Roles Royce of printing is, this is it!

Just a wee bit of background information on the process for the techno minded -  platinotypes, are photographic prints made by a monochrome process that provides the greatest tonal range of any printing method using chemical development. The platinum tones range from warm black, to reddish brown, to expanded mid-tone greys that are unobtainable in silver prints. Unlike the silver print process, platinum lies on the paper surface, while silver lies in a gelatin or albumen emulsion that coats the paper. As a result, since no gelatin emulsion is used, the final platinum image is absolutely matte with a deposit of platinum absorbed slightly into the paper.

Platinum prints are the most durable of all photographic processes. The platinum group metals are very stable against chemical reactions that might degrade the print—even more stable than gold. It is estimated that a platinum image, properly made, can last thousands of years!

That said you have to see the prints in the flesh to truly appreciate them. I have started this process with a professional printer friend of mine and after a few attempts we have or should I say he has nailed the chemistry and production of these prints. The real beauty of this process is that it can be made from a digital file, which when made into a negative can then be contact printed. Here are a few examples of platinotypes to date. Hope you enjoy................. and any questions or comment you know what to do!


Fionn McCann1 Comment