The Platinum Print


The Platinum Print

Collectors of fine art photography have long-prized prints made from platinum and palladium.  The process of creating photographs using platinum and palladium was discovered and refined in England in the mid-1800s.

Continued experimentation lead to the use of silver gelatin in place of platinum.  Silver gelatin prints became the standard for photographers like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and others from the early 20th century onward.

However, platinum-palladium prints are sought-after by discerning collectors due to their rarity, their unique aesthetic, their archival stability, and their arresting beauty.

The Process

A platinum print is made using a contact printing process.  It is not an enlargement like most printed photographs, therefore the negative and final image are the same size.

Once the negative is ready for printing, liquid platinum and contrast agents are mixed in the darkroom and meticulously brushed by hand onto the paper.  This creates the unique brushed-edge borders seen on many platinum prints.  The liquid platinum is carefully dried and the paper and negative are placed in direct contact with each other and exposed to a controlled ultraviolet light.  Special chemistry is then used to process the platinum print before its final wash.

Our platinum prints are created using 100-percent cotton Arches Platine paper.  Arches has been manufacturing fine art paper in France since 1492.

The Look

Platinum prints have a different look compared to silver gelatin or digital ink prints.  For example, in a silver gelatin print, the paper is coated with gelatin into which silver is embedded.  Platinum, however, lies on and is absorbed into the paper itself.  As a result, the finish always has a matte quality, taking on

characteristics of the paper being used.  Highly absorbent paper, like our Arches Platine, is a key component of the process and why we invest in using only the finest paper on the market today.

The Legacy

The platinum and palladium used to make a platinum print belong to a group of elements known as “platinum group metals”.  These metals (including ruthenium, rhodium, osmium and iridium) are the most chemically stable metals known to mankind - more stable than gold.  Atmospheric conditions which can degrade a silver gelatin or digital ink print should have little effect on a platinum print, and it is estimated that a platinum print, when made properly like ours, will last thousands of years.

Different sizes and editions are available.

Contact us for more information.