Monday, April 29, 2013

In the Clearing Bath

Woodbury, Connecticut

Yesterday, my first real-picture print, as opposed to a step tablet test, from an inkjet digital negative intended for platinum printing. In fact it took only five "abstract" tonal tests before making a reduced digital negative from this 8x10 original and trying it out. Very close, not rocket science at all. That was the easy part. I used a transparent media primarily intended for photo silk-screen work because I'd heard good things about it, even though "everybody" uses another product for this purpose. It accepts the ink very well, there is no problem getting beautiful tonal range with no contrast agents at all in the Pt/Pd coating mixture (apologies to non-platinum printers to whom this is gibberish) and with no CAs the tone in smooth test tablet patches is impeccable.

Except. The material is flimsy and the coated (and then inked) side seems delicate. Not a good start for contact printing on cotton paper coated with Pt/Pd solutions, held in tight contact by a vacuum frame. Again and again if you're making multiple prints. Then, peeling the negative off the paper brought up cringe-worthy memories of the couple of times I've almost damaged a "real" negative by printing it on a sheet of hand-coated Pt/Pd paper that wasn't dried quite enough before printing. Actual photographic film can handle a close call or two, but you want to avoid it.

This stuff sticks to the clear border, outside the image of the negative, not just to where the image is inked, and even sometimes makes a faint transfer there, which could only get worse with multiple printings. I tried over-drying a small test, and if anything the material stuck worse. This is a problem with compatibility. It wants to stick and I don't think it's about the retained moisture in the sheet that's needed for making a fully realized Pt/Pd print. So, I have a package of "what everyone uses" arriving tomorrow afternoon. Hope it isn't sticky.

Getting a new (to me) aspect of photographic process to work the way I want it to, always makes me realize: "the beatings will continue until morale improves."

1 comment:

lyle said...

The new 'stuff' will work well as I have used it in the 8.5x11 size and bigger in a vac frame. No problems. The 'old' stuff you are using was recommended to me by someone doing poly-photogravure. I assume there are no issues with the plastic plate.