Most black and white prints made today use materials based on light sensitive silver compounds, but this has not always been so. Platinum printing, invented in 1873, rapidly became the dominant medium of the fine art photographers of the time. Alfred Stieflitz, whose platinum portraits of Georgia O'Keefe are well known, along with Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, and Edward Steichen often printed on platinum coated paper. These prints were treasured for their delicacy and superb tonal rendering.
Unfortunately, World War I intervened, and platinum found military uses. It became expensive and practically unavailable for photographic purposes. Silver materials gained almost universal acceptance, and platinum became part of photographic history. However, in the 1960s and 1970s, a few photographers began coating their favorite fine art papers with the necessary chemicals, and one of photography's most beautiful processes was revived. The results are often even more beautiful, and quite unique from one printer to another. My links will point you to some of them.
The process is so slow that platinum prints must be made with the negative in direct contact with the paper, resulting in an image the same size as the negative. I use cameras that make negatives up to 4x5 inches, then digitally enlarge them to the size print we want to make, up to about 12x15 inches. The digital step also provides an opportunity to remove or soften minor blemishes, lines, and wrinkles.
Platinum prints today are made with platinum, palladium (a closely related metal) or a mixture. After processing, nothing remains but metal and paper. Known to chemists as noble metals, they will not oxidize or combine with other elements as do silver or iron, thus creating a photograph that will last unchanged as long as the paper itself. I use a mixture of the two metals to create the tone I desire.
These prints are family heirlooms. Each one is made completely by hand. They have a tonal richness and almost three-dimensional quality when seen in person. An online viewing is not adequate to appreciate them; please contact me to see actual examples.