Winter Break!

I'm on winter break, which means I'm still going to school every day; like an idiot. The wood shop and dark room are empty so I've been making prints and picture frames out of exotic woods.

This one is African mahogany and is really small - about 6" x 5". Inside is a palladium print I made of my grandfather and his three brothers.

This frame is made of maple and is meant to hold an 11" x 14" print.

Here are the 8" x 10" prints I made. This one's Vija.

And some sailing in Chicago.

Next up is a massive bubinga frame for a 16" x 20" print, and for the first time I'm going to try to enlarge some 70-90 year old large format negatives. And I need to think of something to laser cut.


"The harsh, useful thing of the world, from pulling teeth to digging potatoes, are best done by men who are starkly sober as so many convicts in the death-house, but the lovely and useless things, the charming and exhilarating things, are best done by men with, as the phrase is, a few sheets to the wind." - H.L. Mencken

This is a palladium print I made from a 3 3/4" x 2 1/2" negative I found at my parents house. It was printed on a hand-coated cotton rag paper. Palladium prints have a quality that can't be photographed or scanned. They have a texture and tonality very different from a typical gelatin-silver print. The person on the far right is my grandfather (Dad's dad) I'm pretty sure. Second from the left is Wilson who is now 91, and continuing left is Thad (fighter pilot MIA in WWII in the Pacific), Inez, and Charles.


"I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." - Albert Einstein in a letter to Harry Truman

I went to the Printer's Row Book Fair yesterday scouring the area for old platinum prints. I found one. This is a 12 inch coastal gun being fired. You can see the round moving just beyond the barrel. I'm not sure where or when it's from, but my guess is that it's Great Britain around one of the world wars.


"Around the hero everything becomes a tragedy, around the demi-god a satyr-play; and around God everything becomes - what? Perhaps a 'world'? -" - Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 150

I've shown this image repeatedly here and here, but this is my first palladium print of it that I'm actually fairly happy with. In person the palladium print (also called a palladiotype) looks very different from a normal gelatin silver print. It is completely matte and has a much longer tonal range. Once I make some enlarged negatives I'll be able to show off the process a bit better than I currently can with a night photograph.

For those interested this was printed on 8x10 Bergger cotton rag paper using a mixture of palladium salts and ferric oxalate. It was then exposed under a UV lightbox, developed with potassium oxalate, and cleared with tetrasodium EDTA. The internegative and negative were made on Bergger BPFP-18 film which was blown up from a medium format (120mm) negative.

More Palladium Prints

This is a 2 1/2" x 4 1/4" negative of my grandfather when he was at Annapolis. I found a bunch of larger negatives over the holidays that belonged to him. It's eerie to look at them. He died when I was 6 or 7, but in a lot of the photos he's my age (such as here he's probably about 20-24). They range from about 1925-1950 give or take a few years.

This is yet another underexposed palladium print. Palladium printing is apparently a bit trickier than the more common (although that's like saying common pet elephant) platinum/palladium 50:50 mix that most people use. Every little thing makes a big difference. It's much more susceptible to variables than the more common darkroom printing method gelatin-silver. More experimentation is in order.

Platinum/Palladium Prints

I've started to experiment with an archaic photographic printing process known as platinum or palladium printing, platinotypes, or pallatinotypes. They fell out of favor around WWI yet are often considered the "highest" form of photographic printing. Basically, an emulsion of iron and platinum/palladium is coated onto paper, exposed with UV light under a negative (contact printing), developed with ammonium citrate, and cleared with EDTA to produce an image. All that's left on the paper is platinum/palladium so the prints are perfectly archival as both metals are noble metals.

This is my first one with a densitometer on the left hand side. It's quite underexposed... even at 22 minutes under a 250 watt work light. The crazy looking border is created by my brush strokes as I spread the emulsion of feric oxide and palladium.