palladium, platinum, silver etc prints : LUSENET : B&W Photo: Alternative Process : One Thread


How are your expiriences with one of the above prints? Is material still ("widely") available? Is it very complicated. Is it expensive?

I would like to expirement with the techniques. Any tips? What to start with? I believe the first two are easiest, is that correct?

thanks Reinier

-- ReinierV (, April 27, 2002


Reinier, now wait a minute, 'silver' are regular b&w prints with 'off the self' enlarging paper. Are you familiar and 'at-home' with black & white printing/darkroom procedures? If not, I believe platinum/palladium prints might be a bit of a reach.


-- Christian Harkness (, April 28, 2002.

At least the 50's or so there was a silver print technique that was different from the current 'standardized' pre-prepared paper method. That's the one I'm referring to. I believe it allowed all sorts of carrier beside paper. Basically you made your own light sensitive material. It also was more durable than the current papers, but that may depend on the carrier I'm not sure.


-- ReinierV (, April 28, 2002.

I see where you are coming from. Thewre isn't a great deal of difference in the way the emulsion is laid on the paper. The difference is in the cost. Silver emulsions being the least expensive palladium being somewhere between the two and platinum being quite expensive mainly due to the learning curve of applying your own emulsions and making them up from scratch. And where platinum and palladium are UV light sensitive and normally contact printed, silver is a negative enlarging process. James

-- james (, April 28, 2002.

What would the main argument be to start using palladium or any other processes? Is the quality of the prints indeed much higher? Is it more durable than a print on pre-pepared sheets (fiber)? Is there a better tonal range, or.....? What kind of photographers use it most often?


-- ReinierV (, April 29, 2002.

The platinum/palladium process is costly compared to using readily available commercial silver papers. The tonal range of pt/pl is much greater than silver based papers. It mainly depends on what you are doing with the finished work and how much time, money, and energy you are willing to expend on learning and using pt/pl materials.

-- james (, April 29, 2002.

Thanks for all the tips. I ordered a set to try platinum prints. And some books on it and on how to make contact sheets on the computer from 35mm. Can't wait till its there.


-- ReinierV (, April 29, 2002.

Liquid silver is a lot of fun and not too expensive. I have been experimenting with it for awhile now. You can make anything (including rocks) photo sensitive, giving you a great variety of materials to express yourself. You must be careful when using the liquid as it is very sensitive to light, but result are quite satisfying. Go for it.

-- R Fitch (, May 10, 2002.

Reinier V, (what does V stand for ?) when referring to a "silver" process I think you mean the "silver salt" POP technique. It is a printing-out-paper technique applied in a similar way to Pt/Pd, but using silver salts to sensitise the paper. Resembles the technique that the calotype negs were printed back in the '50s, but the 1850s not the 1950s. Many alt-printing technique books have info on that, I recommend you "The keepers of light", being the bible of the alternative photographers.

-- George Papantoniou (, May 22, 2002.

Platinum/palladium prints don't have a greater tonal range overall when compared to an Azo print. No, this is not another "azo is everything' post. In direct comparisons from the same negative with platinum & Azo, the densitometer shows me the Azo print has a greater range of tones. They do NOT look the same though. I choose one or the other for reasons other than the ultimate tonal range of the finished print.

-- Dan Smith (, May 26, 2002.


There are volumes of information that can be written about some of these processes. I have worked with hand coated silver, platinum, and palladium emulsions and must tell you that the silver techniques are considerably cheaper. Liquid emulsions are available on the market and can be used to coat just about anything. Standard enlargers can be used to print 35, medium or large format negatives on the coated surfaces. its fun to experiment with paper surfaces, I use an assortment of different watercolor papers for different effects.

Platinum and palladium are more involved. First, it is more common to use the two salts together than it is to use one or the other. Palladium adds contrast and a little speed to a platinum emulsion. Platinum, although generally softer adds tonal range, especially in highlight areas. The chemistry is expensive. The coating technique is critical to sucess, and the exposure processes usually involves building or purchasing a UV contact printer unless you live in Arizona or some place that gets intense full sunlight. Even then, it is harder to be consistent when using a moving star than it is with 6 good UV tubes.

Anyway, if you want to venture into platinum/palladium be prepared to spend a little money on materials, equipment, and facilities. The process is nothing less than exquisite. And in my opinion, well worth the investment.



-- Don Sigl (, May 30, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ