Digital Platinum with Carl Weese / by greg brophy

This past weekend I took my second class with Carl Weese at the Center for Alternative Photography. The first one I took was Platinum Printing where we learned how to take, develop and print traditional negative. I wrote about it before. I learned a lot in that class, but when I went back home to try it, I ran into all kinds of problems. Carl was kind enough to answer some of my questions through email, but sometimes it really helps to take a class, try the process and take it again to follow up. One of the problems with workshops is that their is usually not enough time to go into trouble shooting. Especially with a process like platinum, that has so many different variables as to what could go wrong. Then add the complexity of digital printing.

With all of that I decided to take the Digital Negatives class. I have tried printing them myself. I have read every book on the subject. I mean EVERY book going all the way back to Dan Burkholders original book. After the first class I took where we learned how to develop negatives, I had problems with my own. One of them being the most common, figuring out what area of the scene should be Zone 3, where you want to place the shadows with detail. My mind had a hard time figuring that out. I asked Carl about it and he told me to use the spot meter and meter the whole scene to figure it out. Of course! How could I have been so stupid.

The next issue I was able to figure out with the help of Carl, was that I was overdeveloping the negatives. I was able to show them to Carl and he told me that the edges of the film that are blocked from light by the holder should be clearer. Mine were heavily stained. I had one negative where I used half the amount of chemical (I am using Sandy Kings Pyrocat-MC) the dilution of 1-1-100 versus 2-2-100 which people have suggested you need for alternative processes. Being able to go back and show negatives I took to Carl helped immensely.  I have also tried every version of digital negatives that I could find and I could not get them o print out at all. They had no blacks and all kinds of problems. In order to trouble shoot this, I brought in my own chemicals and paper. I printed out in the class with no problems. I was able to eliminate one more possible problem. Now that I have taken the digital negative class with Carl, I now have digital negatives that I know work and can see if it could be my UV Exposure box I made myself.

Knowing that I was going to be taking the digital negative class on the weekend, I went out the day before to take photos in Willis Point, Queens. I have been interested in taking photos of this place as a project. Willis Point is literally in the Shadow of the new Citibank Field and most likely will not be there for long. I went there and was amazed at what I saw. It was like all of the past 20 years of businesses and shops that have been sanitized by the city have all moved into one crowded corner. The photo below is from there and done as a platinum print from a digital negative.

Willis Point Queens

The photo below is from the series "Where the Ocean Meets the Shore" which I had always envisioned as a platinum print. Now it is a reality. I originally shot them with 8x10 film but I did not realize that you need to develop them using a pyro formula to make them work with platinum printing.

Melting into the Ocean

One of the amazing things about platinum is the ability to render texture and tones. This photo was taken in Albania from a series of images that I am going to post soon.

If you want to learn how to print digital negatives on platinum, I would strong suggest taking the class with Carl. He has a very simplified and relatively easy way of creating perfect negatives. You learn how to correct the digital negatives easily without creating endless amounts of charts or a densitometer. Sometimes the corrections are done with the chemical and sometimes with the digital file. One thing Carl impressed upon us was that their is no W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G, but that you can get really close. The only real catch is that you do need an Epson printer with the advanced Black and White Controls in the driver. For instance the Epson 3880.