My Platinum Palladium Prints

Building on a strong interest in film photography, I started to make Platinum Palladium (Pt/Pd) prints in 2016.

Unlike silver gelatin printing, you can’t enlarge film negatives printing in Pt/Pd process. All prints have to be contact printed. Either you must use a large format film camera, or learn how to make print large format digital negs. I chose the latter.

There are several ways to print large format digital negatives, but after some research, it became clear Jon Cone of Cone Studios in Vermont had invented the best solution.

Piezography®, Cone’s system of proprietary inks, raster image processor output curves known as “quads”, along with detailed instructions for retrofitting Epson inkjet printers, provided an end-to-end process yielding high resolution, linearized black and white negatives of practically any size.

Without Jon Cone’s, and his collaborator, Walter Blackwell’s years of innovation and experimentation with ink, paper, and digital printing, photographers would have to settle for inferior digital negatives.

Cone Editions Press invented PiezoDN®, the digital negative version of Piezography®, and experimented with every commercially available film to find one capable of accepting their pigment-rich inks in sufficient quantity to achieve nearly 100% opacity (dMax) in the highest highlights.

While Jon and Walter have done a remarkable job documenting their processes and making it widely available, but, mastering it’s intricacies can be a huge challenge for any but the most persistent and dedicated hobbyists. The system requires a not-so-insignificant investment of time, money, and patience to understand and implement the workflow.

I’ve been working at it for more than five years and only recently have felt confident enough to avoid rushing to the 300+ page Piezography® onlne manual searching for answers to common problems. A robust online user forum holds many solutions to shared  challenges as well, but is time consuming to sort through when problems appear suddenly.

My first platinum palladium print emerged in a tray of clear liquid chemical in Cone’s Vermont studio located on several acres of rural hillside farmland in the tiny village of East Topsham, VT.  During the 4-day workshop, I learned the basics of PiezoDN® and how to sensitize plain paper and expose the negative/paper sandwich to intense ultraviolet light.

Again, Jon’s deep knowledge of printmaking led him to update and improve a 150-year-old process with modern tools and methods. Combined with his patient instruction, even an amateur like me could produce successful prints on the first day.

Mark Laurence LaRivière

Mark Laurence LaRivière

I'm a fine art painter and photographer who is always seeking to turn the ordinary into something extraordinary.

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