Monday, June 7, 2010

Why Palladium?

With the advent of high quality medium format printers, one might ask why make palladium prints at all? Why not just print a black and white image rather than making a digital negative and then making a contact print of it? (More on the process later.)

Part of the reason is that palladium (and its more expensive sister element platinum) produce such superb black-and-white "colors." Platinum is known for its "cool" blacks, but palladium can produce them as well. Palladium also is thought to have a "warmer" feel to its blacks (but not "sepia" which is much warmer). Another reason is that the image is nestled into the surface texture of the medium. It is "in" the paper rather than "on" the paper.

Still another reason is that palladium (and of course platinum) are archival. Under normal display conditions, the image will last as long or longer than any other medium, including UltraChrome (UC) Epson pigments, which are currently an industry standard.

There are many other reasons as well, some of which are quite subjective. Since the palladium coating is sensitive only to ultra-violet (UV) light, it is possible to develop these prints in low (even medium) light. One of the great moments in the process is when the developer is poured over the latent image and that image springs into existence. You can tell in a few seconds how it will look. From there, it is only a matter of washing and drying the print, which can be done in full light.

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