I finished up my first session of my Intro to Platinum/Palladium Printing class today. I had eight students, all highly motivated and enthusiastic, and it was a big help in making the class succeed. I was a bit nervous as this was my first time running the class, and it was sold out. There was a very diverse audience – about half and half male and female, and age ranges from early 20’s to late 60s (maybe older than that, but it’s not a very polite thing to ask). I was really thrilled that everything went smoothly – on day one, we all talked about the process, shared work and little bios of our artistic backgrounds, and then went out in Glen Echo Park to walk around and shoot some images. We made 10 negatives all told, enough for everyone in the class to own one, with a couple spares. Since platinum/palladium is a contact printing process, we shot all the film with my 5×7. Most of the students had never used a view camera before, so it was an additional learning experience for them. I took the film home with me and developed it that night, so that students would have real live working negatives, properly developed, for the class, and to keep a sample to see what a good negative looks like.
Today, we got in to the darkroom early, set up and went through the process, end to end. I began with a coating demonstration, then exposed the print, developed, cleared, washed and dried it. Then I cut my students loose and let them coat and print away.
We used a combination of artificial UV light source and natural daylight – it was a cloudy overcast day, so actually not a bad day for doing pt/pd prints, but exposure times were LONG outdoors – with some negatives, up to 25 minutes. For a quick-and-dirty portable UV light source, I used a 16-socket PhotoDiox lamp house with black-light compact fluorescent tubes. It worked out great for exposing, if a little slow (the average exposure with it was 12 minutes), but we could only do one at a time with it. We still managed to get two prints done for each student, which is not bad for a single day printing session with so many people trying to use a small facility.
We got the chance to try both traditional develop-out palladium prints and printing-out Ziatypes (a variation on the theme but the image if fully formed during exposure and requires only a water wash step instead of development. Here are my students posing with their prints –
And here’s a finished print of one of the student images. The print is still wet, and the crappy Olympus digital P&S I was using didn’t white balance well, so my apologies in advance if the shot looks a little yellow –