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Making Platinum Prints

The purpose of this document is to demonstrate how I work with the platinum process and perhaps inspire a budding platinum printer or three. If you aren’t planning on making your own prints but want to know the basics of our process, you can cut to the chase and skip all the minutia with the Short Course. Otherwise, working through the entire course of materials will give you the tools and knowlege needed to begin with platinum printing. As you progress, the additional resources we provide will assist you in refining your technique.

Platinum printmaking, in its basic form, isn't difficult to do, but fully understanding its nuances and capabilities takes perseverance and experience. And although platinum printmaking is a wonderful “next step” for the photographer who does his/her own silver printing, it is much more expensive to practice, it isn't a high-volume operation, and you’ll have to get your hands dirty. Don’t say I didn't warn you, but rest assured it will all be worthwhile when that first exceptional print, combining a great negative image, just the right mix of chemistry, and your handwork, startles you in a way a silver print never could.

My methods of work are not necessarily the best or only ways of producing platinum prints. They are simply the methods that work for me and my circumstances. They satisfy my requirements for relatively safe chemistry, a small amount of dedicated workspace, and final prints that express my artistic intent. Given the extent of my self-imposed constraints, nearly anyone wishing to try platinum printing should be able to use the following instructions as, at the very least, a starting point. My methods couldn’t be much simpler or require less esoteric “stuff,” but they allow the printer full leeway in manipulating the process. Those more fortunate than I, with traditional darkrooms and all the accoutrements, will simply have the benefits of greater efficiency and productivity on their side.

Please let me know if you find this document helpful. Suggestions for improvements and questions about my techniques are also welcome. More than anything, though, I’d like to see your work, so share the wealth!

FYI: If you are anything like me, reading a hard copy is much easier than reading something off of a computer screen. I’ve made this document as printer-friendly as I could, and I’ll try to keep it that way as I update it and add images. Simply printing a given chapeter from your browser should yield an acceptably formatted and readable copy on paper.