Mike Ware, Madison County, VA. 2014, platinum-palladium (1:1) print on Arches Platine from a digital negative. Printed 2018. 25x20cm

Last November, 2017, I posted about a platinum-palladium print that made from a digital capture rendered as a PiezoDN negative. The Arches Platine paper, with its texture and warmth, was new to me, and I have learned to fine-tune it over the months since I made that print. Compared to last year’s print, this one is significantly different. The earlier version seems too warm in tone, and a little less highly resolved. The newer print, cooler in tone and with smoother highlight values, seems a bit more magical. Just like the subject.

I arrived at the above image, scanned from the original print, with a refined negative-making process and the addition of a small amount of glycerin to the sensitizer. A photographic print (such as a platinum-palladium print, and as opposed to a digital print) results from an image moving
from one realm (the ‘real’, as perceived when the photograph was taken)
to another (the photographic film),
to another (the scan of the film, now a negative),
to another (the digital image as seen on the computer screen),
to another (the inkjet-printed pigment negative on a clear piece of film).

At each stage a large number of variables are at play and can be controlled. And at each stage, there are many, as my friend Mike Ware likes to call them,
imponderables‘.
Despite these, and because of the former,
when a piece of paper,
brushed with an orange-colored liquid,
gets exposed to intense ultra-violet and ends up
bonded to vast numbers of pure palladium and platinum atoms, which,
the naked eye sees as an
image that corresponds to ‘reality’, it all amounts to this:
magic.

Magic, as in being given a moment to just be filled with wonder.
To wonder how this happened, but not seek and describe the mechanisms behind the phenomenon.
To wonder at the thing, this print, and to let it allow us to feel by seeing.
To wonder how intensely imponderable the sum of ponderables is.