Platinum Printing after 2 Years by greg brophy

A few years ago I took a platinum printing class with Carl Weese. The image below is one of the first I created in  that class. The second image is one I did a few nights ago. It has taken an incredible amount of time and frustration to get to the point where I am happy with an image. I still think it needs work and am truly committed to knowing everything about this process and mastering it. I believe that digital photography and the prints made have made people lazy. 

I was at a portfolio review with some well know editors and curators. I brought it out and a lot of them did not know what it was. I told one reviewer it was platinum and she said oh thank god I am so tired of digital images. 

I know in this time where Formalism rules the art world, I argue that there is still a place for traditional printing processes. Don't get me wrong, I am not against digital cameras, this is a digital image originally, but with the release of all new paper for platinum and the hybrid process of digital negatives, there has never been a better time to be a photographer. 

My first platinum print 2 years ago

My first platinum print 2 years ago

The most recent version

The most recent version

Darkroom by greg brophy

Some photos of my darkroom and some prints I am currently making.

Hahnemühle Platinum Paper by greg brophy

According to Christina Z. Anderson, a new Alternative Process paper that sounds perfect for Platinum Printing is coming out soon from Hahnemühle. See the details below. If true it really sounds incredible.

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How to make a UV LED Exposure box by greg brophy

Up close on the UV LED exposure box


I made this box about a year ago and after 1 years use, I am not sure I would still recommend doing this. I went to add some more lights to the unit this week and noticed that the lights, which have a plastic waterproof coating over them had yellowed and that the new lights which were the same as the original were much brighter. I read the reviews of the LEDS on Amazon and a lot of people complained about the same thing. They only thing I can think of is to use LEDS without the waterproof cover and that are of better quality.

I have a Nuarc 40-1K and an fluorescent exposure box I made and decided that I needed something quieter, cooler and less power hungry so I made a UV LED exposure box. I put this information together from these two links:

Before we start, I am not an electrician and you do this at your own risk.

The video is an excellent source for some of what you need and how to wire it. The process I did required soldering. I learned how to solder a long time ago and it’s really not hard. You may be able to do it without soldering but I do not trust the long-term ability of the clips to keep the connection. I created a really large UV light box at about 30x36 inches but it’s easier if you do something like 20x24. I made mine that large to fit over the vacuum frame I have.

The UX exposure box I made gives me a maximum black at about 12 minutes with Fixxons transparency material that I use for my digital negatives. Right now, the height is about 4 inches from the negative. This may change but it doesn’t really matter much if it is 4 or 6 inches. The LED strips are 3/8ths of an inch wide and I centered them on an inch strip (30 inches for 30 strips). The video shows the lights really stacked on top of each other, but so far I have gotten pretty even light with some space in-between. I also staggered where they begin and end so that the coverage is more even and not just strips of LEDS horizontally. The video does a good job of explaining this. You do not need the battery or the extra stuff he shows in the video, just the power transformer.

Results from a 10 minute exposure using the UV LED exposure box. It could use a couple more minutes. 

When you cut the LED strips, make sure it is between the two copper points (about every three LEDs). Make sure all the strips go in the same direction. How can you tell? Well when you line them up, you will see at the ends of the LED strips, two copper dots, one negative and one positive. The ends should match, so for instance all the negative copper terminals should be on the top and the entire positive terminal on the bottom. This way it makes it easy to line up and solder. You are going to take the 12 AWG wire (basically speaker wire) and have it go through holes you have to make in the center of the short sides. The speaker wire is a paired wire, one wire to go to the top and one to go towards the bottom. It doesn’t matter which is which. Start on one side and strip the red and black off so that it reaches just past the leds. Give it about an inch from the top of the LEDS. Staple this down and start soldering the small copper wire to each one. For the one side you want the negatives and the other side the positives. You do not do all of them on both sides.

Once you are done, test with the power supply. You should have three positive and three negative connections on the power supply.  The one 12 AWG cord (with the red and black cord inside) from the right should go into the positive connections on the power supply and the one cord from the left should go into the two negative terminals. Which side doesn’t matter as much as long as the wires soldered to the negative side of the LED terminal is plugged into the negative connection on the power supply; same with the positive. Then connect the power cable, black is live, white is neutral and green is ground. Plug it in and step back. The lights take about 2 seconds to turn on. Once it is all working, flip the board over and attach the power supply to the board and you are done.

I have saved everything I have used into a wish list from Amazon or you can check out the links individually below.


I will keep updating this with more images and better directions as this process evolves. 

Here is a schematic I made: 

UV LED Exposure Box Schematic from underneath. Click to view larger size.

Power supply – can power 5 reels of lights at a time (Shipping says it will take a month but I got it in two days)

UPDATE: I would also strongly suggest getting a plastic ABS box and drill some holes in it for ventilation.

Connect led strips together

OOK 50162 20 Gauge, 50ft Copper Hobby Wire

Check update at top: Wit-Lighting 16.4ft 5050 LED Strip UV Purple 395nm-405nm 5M 300 SMD Flex Light Waterproof IP65 12V DC DC 12V 5A for 5M 300LED light strip Viewing Angle : 120° Wavelength:395-405nm Long life span 50,000+ hours (Shipping says it will take a month but I got it in two days) This is what I used, but would not recommend, they turn yellow and lose brightness in a year.

500w DC12v Output Switching Power Supply Adapter Non-waterproof LED Driver transformer for LED Strip Light (for reels of 6 or more)

Power Cord
Cmple 12 AWG CL2 Rated 2-Conductor Loud Speaker Cable for In Wall Installation (White, 100')

12AWG Copper Speaker Wire



Sony A7RII Photos by greg brophy

I recently acquired the Sony A7RII and I have not had much time to use it yet, but so far I love the photos. It takes some getting used to a full frame camera. I usually shot APSC or Micro 4/3rds, both great for what they do when you need environmental portraits and want everything in focus (I know, crazy right, but their was a time before the bokeh craze that photographers wanted to have everything in focus). So here are a few test shots while I finish reading the manual.


Sony A7RII with the Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA Lens

Sony A7RII with the Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA Lens

Behold Blog by greg brophy

The Persistence of Steel

This past Sunday, I was honored to have a piece about "The Iron Triangle" series posted on the Behold blog on Slate by David Rosenberg. Check it out here.

Gumoil Printing by greg brophy

I have been interested in the process of Gumoil Printing, a very unique way to make a photo. I will post examples here as I do them. In my quest to learn more I found a video on youtube of Karl Koening giving a demonstration. Watching the video you can learn a lot but not everything. I went to buy his book, but their is a small problem. It is no longer printed and people are selling used for $500. To me that is just crazy. The other problem is that Karl passed away a few years ago so it is hard to ask him any questions. He was very good at responding online. I was able to get my hands on a copy of the book and I scanned it in for everyone else that wants to learn. I hope it helps.


Printing a Portfolio by greg brophy

I am currently getting ready for the Palm Springs Photo Review at PhotoExpo by printing out "The Iron Triangle" Series. I am using a printer on loan from my friend Antoon at Uptown Fine Art Printing Studios. The way I am doing it is a bit strange to print them but is really easy to do.

The printer is pretty big and doesn't really fit in my office so I have it set up in the basement plugged into an old Power PC G5 that I connect to wirelessly. I edit the photos on my 2011 iMac and connect to the G5 using the Share screen feature of OSX. I also connect to the computer like I would to a server. This allows me to transfer files to the G5 so that I have them in one location and if I need to make changes, I can with then iMac and save them. I then open them in CS3 on the G5 and hit print.  

There are many advantages of doing it this way. I don't have to have the printer next to me. Having a computer dedicated to printing only means I can save all the setting without worrying that maybe I changed the gamma or color profile. Many times after printing, even if I saved the settings, I would go and print another image the next day only to find out that some setting defaulted back to the original. I am talking about things like the platen gap defaulting back to normal. With the Epson printers, I set the platen gap to wide or wider, otherwise the head hits the paper and causes streaks of ink. I am also more familiar with the way Adobe CS3 prints on a Power PC. After Adobe CS3 and the Intel Macs were released, something changed in the way images printed and I had trouble getting the images to like they used to.

I have printed out about half of the 26 images and so far have only had to make adjustments to 3 images and reprint them. I am getting used to telling how the image will look once printed. I am printing out in Black and White with a slight sepia tone and I judge everything by the numbers to see if the image is within the tonal range of the printer. 

It is really great to see the images all printed out in a 16x20 inch size, recommended to me by Jennifer Schwartz from Crusade for Arts and David Bram from Fraction Magazine. I was going to mount them onto a mat board, but Jennifer and David suggested not too. Once I saw the prints I realized as well how big and heavy it would be. 

Photoville by greg brophy

The famous Street Photographer Louis Mendes. You can usually find him photographing people in front of B&H Photo

This past weekend Eni and I with some friends went to Photoville. I had gone to the first one years ago and have not been back since usually because I had a conflict with the time. This year I was shocked at the size of the show. It has really grown tremendously. I really enjoyed the work of Rita Leistner "Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afganistan" She printed them out as 4 color Gum Bichromate over Platinum. A Process I am trying to learn myself right now. Not only did she have the work, but she also included how she did the process. I also really admired the work of Daniel Berehulak "Scenes from the Ebola Crisis" from the New York Times. I have seen the work before but it is always a pleasure seeing the actual prints and the impact that they have. The one that really struck a chord was Stephanie Sinclair "Too Young to Wed" The work really stands out pictorially and emotionally. The photos show couples who are about to be wed where the man is 40 and the girl is 11. It covers places like Afghanistan and Guatemala where women are basically the property of the men and nothing more. One woman had been repeatedly stabbed by her husband because she disobeyed him. when asked what will happen to the husband, the female officer said nothing, Men are like Kings here. The female officer was later killed by the Taliban. "Upstate Girls: Unraveling Collar City" was visually overwhelming and very interesting in how it was displayed. Their were so many great photos it was hard to concentrate on them. Last but not least was "Constructed Identites" Curated by Crusade for Art Brooklyn. I took a workshop with Jennifer Schwartz who founded Crusade for Art. The work there was some of the most interesting there.

Eni with downtown Manhattan in the background

Us enjoying one of the last warms days before Fall.

Calibrating a NuArc 26-1K or 40-1K by greg brophy

For making platinum prints, I normally use a NuArc 40-1K with a vacuum frame. It's the same as the 26-1K except the vacuum frame is larger. The 26 is for the size of the vacuum frame, 26 inches. While trying to calibrate my exposures, I was having a hard time getting good exposures. 100 units would take 4 minutes. I read on the Yahoo Carbon Printing Group about calibrating them to  get the exposure closer to 1 unit = 1 sec. I contacted Israel Martinez from M&R Print ( 800-736-6431). He walked me through the steps of what to do. I am just passing along information and take no responsibility if you damage your unit or electrocute yourself, so proceed with caution.

First step is to unplug the unit and then remove the lid of the exposure unit. 

Side view with the lid off

In this side view, the front of the unit is to my left. What you see above is the lamp and the Photocell. The Photocell measures the amount of light coming from the lamp and shuts the unit off when it has reached the limit of what was set. There are three ways to adjust this to make it more sensitive. The first is to angle down the sensor. You will have to play with it, but I adjusted mine here to angle down by about 5 degrees. It doesn't take much.

The red line is where you set the aperture to.

This is what it looks like with the aperture wheel off.

The second way is to adjust the aperture on the front of the Photocell. 1 is the most sensitive and 11 being the least. You can see a swirl on the face, that is what controls the amount of light hitting the sensor. Unscrew just a little, the screw in the middle and adjust it by turing it to match the red mark. It is usually set at 5, I set mine at 1.

The third way to adjust it is to go to the front panel and adjust the resistor. IT is a blue square box with a white plastic screw on the inside. First you want to turn to all the way counter clockwise to as far as it will go and mark that with a sharpie. That makes it less sensitive. Then turn it all the way clockwise until it stops and mark that. This makes it the most sensitive. Now turn it back counter clockwise until it is about center between the two and check it. I would caution not to set it too far clockwise, it may strain the system itself. 

Front of case with the resistor

My particular problem was caused by a melted aperture disc. Mine was pretty old and had many years of use and over time, the aperture wheel that protects the sensor from the light clouded up. If you are having problems, I would check this first. The part itself cost $22, but M&R have a $25 dollar minimum and they charge about $14 for shipping so it costs about $40 in the end. It's pretty cheap to replace compared to the rest of the parts. The new and old dials.

The new and the old aperture dials.

I put it in this morning, tested it and it was a little faster than 1 to 1 so I will have to slow it down a little. Thanks again to Israel Martinez from M&R Print, they have always been very helpful.