Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Pt/Pd prints from Leica Monochrom Captures

Thought I'd put up copy shots of recent printing. Conveying what a platinum/palladium print looks like in a web file is kind of a fool's errand, but it's better than having nothing to show at all. As background to this work—I'll be teaching a workshop this Fall at the Penumbra Foundation in New York, in cooperation with Leica Akademie. It will be a variation on my "digital platinum" workshop, modified to specifically support Leica Monochrom users (or people who are Monochrom-curious). The one-channel files really are different to work with than normal Bayer-array RGB files. Finding that out and getting a handle on working with the files is why I had a loaner MM-246 for a couple weeks recently.
These eight pictures are the first that I've printed from the 1500 or so captures I made with the camera. I shot these with my 35mm Summicron and 50mm Noctilux, both lenses dating back to the 1980s. After adjusting the files in Adobe Camera Raw, they were output using my digital negative system, making negs on Fixxons film with an Epson 3880 printer. The prints are a Pt/Pd mixture with only about 10% Pt (I find that with most papers a small amount of traditional Pt makes a marked improvement over pure Pd, but that only a small portion of Pt is needed) on
Hahnemühle Platinum Rag paper. Potassium oxalate developer, used at room temperature. Multiple clearing baths of a mixture of edta disodium and sodium sulfite.
I like the results with the nature subject matter a lot. The extremely high resolution of the monochrome sensor helps with highly detailed forest scenes. I like the urban subject matter pictures I made with the camera but I'm not so sure they do their best in platinum, though I like the results with the two shown here. There are more pictures in the folder I find interesting enough to print, so I'll be doing more of them in coming days.

Photo Shoot

New York, New York

The group was just off Madison Avenue, just north of the Morgan Library and Museum.

The guy with the camera kept giving directions.

Then one of the girls noticed me shooting the whole scene.

Monday, June 18, 2018

More Prints in the Clearing Baths

Another set of platinum/palladium prints from shots made with the Leica M Monochrom T-246.

From a series of experiments using my 35+ year old Noctilux wide open at f/1, not because of especially low light, but to intentionally limit the focus to very shallow depth of field. (If you click on the image area of the pictures you'll get a slightly larger but more accurate tonal representation of the pictures,  though showing what a Pt/Pd print looks like in web files is pretty hopeless). These are 11" wide prints, Pt/Pd, on 11x15 Hahnemühle Platinum Rag.

The same lens used at f/5.6 for more normal-looking depth of field. Both of these were made in the Hidden Valley section of Steep Rock Preserve in Washington, Connecticut.

Back to the workhorse 35mm Summicron.

Preceding two from White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, Connecticut.

Back to Steep Rock Preserve, this one from the original main section of the park.

Out of the woods and into town, a shot from Brewster, NY.


New York, New York

Sunday, June 17, 2018

First Look

The past couple weeks I had a loaner Leica Monochrome (Typ 246) to work with in preparation for a planned workshop next fall at the Penumbra Foundation. The workshop will be called something like "Digital Platinum for Leica Photographers"—actual title and other details TBD. Aside from satisfying my curiosity (I've used film Leica cameras since 1967 but haven't used the digital models) the idea was to get a good look at how the single-channel files from the b&w-only Monochrom differ from typical Bayer-array RGB digital capture files, in terms of working them up to make digital negatives for Pt/Pd printing.

So here are the first two Pt/Pd prints I've tried, in-process shots while they're in the clearing baths. 11-inch wide prints on 11x15 Hahnemühle Platinum Rag. The first is from the White Memorial Conservation Center in northwestern Connecticut, the second from mid-town Manhattan.


Waterbury, Connecticut

This factory complex in the Waterville section of the city has been vacant for as long as I can remember. Periodically the grounds get cleared out and some demolition work is done in a section or two, indicating that maybe it's about to be rehabilitated, but then the work stops and the brush and trees take over the parking areas again.

Saturday, June 16, 2018


New York, New York

Some urban shooting before turning in the MM-246 loaner.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Coy Glances

Brewster, New York

Another MM246 shot that reminded me how useful rangefinder focusing can be. Manual focus exists on EVF digital cameras, but I find it quite difficult to use even though I still have no trouble focusing the dim ground glass images on my large format view cameras. Here I wanted exact focus on the foreground cherub, and the beautifully smooth transition-to-bokeh of my old 35mm Summicron to fall back to the house. Focus where I wanted it with the rangefinder was essentially instant. Then after reframing I could make several slight variations in the framing without having to refocus, or assign a far left focus spot, etc.