T H E P A L L A D I O T Y P E P R O C E S S
P R I N T I N G W I T H P A L L A D I U M
Hand Crafted Prints
The long thought to be obsolete palladiotype (printing with palladium), is enjoying a renaissance amongst modern photographers who are seeking a return to hand crafted expression.
Palladium prints, also called palladiotype, are photographic prints made by a monochrome printing process that provides the greatest tonal range of any printing method using chemical development.They are favoured by collectors because of their tonal range, the surface quality and their permanence. A palladium print provides a broad scale of tones from warm black, to reddish brown, to expanded mid-tone grays that are unobtainable in silver prints.
In photography palladiotype is a rather obscure variant of the platinotype. Platinotypes (printing with platinum) were invented in 1873 by William Willis and became the dominant process in 1900, but commercially discontinued by 1937. The process was in use after World War I, because the platinum used in the fairly popular platinotype quickly became too expensive for use in photography. Photographers tried to replace the platinum with the much cheaper palladium which gave similar effects. The cost of this metal, however, started to rise too and eventually, around 1930 the process was abandoned in favor of more economical processes.
Unlike the silver print process, palladium lies on the paper surface, while silver lies in a gelatin or albumen emulsion that coats the paper. As a result, since no gelatin emulsion is used, the final palladium image is absolutely matte with a deposit of palladium (and/or platinum, its sister element which is also used in most palladium photographs) absorbed slightly into the paper.
Platinum/palladium prints are the most durable of all photographic processes.The platinum/palladium group metals are very stable against chemical reactions that might degrade the print—even more stable than gold. It is estimated that a platinum image, properly made, can last thousands of years.
Some of the desirable characteristics of a platinum/palladium print include: an absolutely non-reflective surface of the prints, unlike more typical glossy prints; a very delicate, large tonal range; not being coated with gelatin, the prints do not exhibit the tendency to curl; the darkest possible tones in the prints are still lighter than silver-based prints. Recent studies have this attributed to an optical illusion produced by the gelatin coating on RC and fiber-based papers. Platinotypes/palladiotypes that have been waxed or varnished will produce images that appear to have greater D-max than silver prints; and a greatly decreased susceptibility to deterioration compared to silver-based prints due to the stability of the process and because they are commonly printed on 100% rag papers.
My choice of paper is currently:
Mould-made in France of 100% cotton, Platine has a neutral pH, hot-pressed surface, and a pure white color. Its weight is 310 gsm (grams per square meter).
I’m also currently experimenting with Bergger COT320GSM