Monday, March 18, 2013

Blog Notes: Platinum Workshop at CAP

 New York, New York

The "Introduction to Platinum" workshop I teach several times a year at CAP is unusual in that it presents the traditional approach to the process. In the two day workshop we begin by selecting subjects seen from the rooftop of CAP's building and in the lovely fourth floor daylight studio, trying to find things that will work particularly well in Pt/Pd.

We work out exposure for an ideal negative from each subject, as each student selects and directs a specific picture (I operate the 4x5 camera to keep things moving along quickly). We usually do a couple rooftop scenes, portraits, a still life or two, and this past Saturday everyone wanted to do a group portrait. Then I demonstrate development in PMK pyro (it's amazing how much participants learn "watching" me develop film in total darkness).

Everyone was so taken with the daylight studio there was a little snapshot session posing with the antique cameras and marveling at the wonderful light.

After a break for the film to dry, I demonstrate how to hand-coat paper with Pt/Pd sensitizer, and how to expose and process the print. Then everyone gets to dive in and try at least one print from "their" negative before the end of the day. All day Sunday participants practice coating and printing, experimenting with different exposures, formulas, and a couple different papers. By the end of the day Sunday there are a lot of little platinum prints on the drying racks, and everybody's pretty tired, but still enthusiastic.

There was a lot of discussion of making platinum prints from computer generated digital negatives, and a couple people brought in digital negatives to try. But everyone seemed to appreciate that following the whole traditional process from start to finish gave them a solid understanding of what they want to look for as they continue to work on their own, whether they plan to work directly from film or apply what they've learned to working from digital negatives.

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