Platinum / Palladium

Platinum printing and the closely related palladium process involve coating high-quality drawing paper with a light sensitive emulsion containing one of the precious metals or a mixture of both. After the paper has dried, it is sandwiched with a photographic negative and then exposed under very bright illumination—in decades past, the sun was often used. Because the sensitivity of the paper is so low, it can be used in normal room light and no darkroom is required. Introduced in the 1880s,  platinum/palladium printing today is an expensive and rather complicated process. Manufacture of platinum paper ended around the time of the first World War, so photographers thereafter had to mix the emulsion and coat the paper themselves. The process is prized for its extremely long tonal scale and lovely image color. Photographer Alfred Stieglitz called platinum printing “the prince of all media.” Because the precious metals are so stable over time and the because the paper is acid-free and of the highest quality, a platinum or palladium print can last for centuries.