The Dark Challenge

To photograph a deep red dahlia in monochrome against an almost black background.

Even with a careful blend of natural and artificial light this is still a challenging proposition. The obvious choice of printing method to reveal the subtle tonality of this image is the Platinum/Palladium process.

Here is Richard’s finished result.

Dahlia 1. A  Platinum/Palladium Print by Richard Freestone

Dahlia 1. A Platinum/Palladium Print.


Platinum/Palladium Printing

I’ve always enjoyed the craft element to photography. No matter how the image was captured, on film or digitally, it is in the darkroom, crafting the print that I’m happiest.

The printing method that I use almost exclusively for my monochrome prints nowadays is the Platinum/Palladium process. If you would like to know more about this 19th Century process, please have a look at my website and blog that deal exclusively with Platinum/Palladium printing.

Although they are quite expensive to make, they have a number of advantages over other printing methods. Primarily they are so stable they will outlast the paper they are printed on. Secondly they display more information than any other monochrome printing method. They are quite simply the most beautiful prints you will ever see.

Here are a few of my own Platinum/Palladium prints and yes they do come from my garden. A place where you might gather I get a lot of inspiration.

dried acer seeds

Dried Acer Seeds

leaf from a fatsia tree

Fatsia Leaf

dried sunflower heaads

Dried Sunflower Heads

japanese anemone seed pods

Japanese Anemone Seed Pods

And here is a print we made recently for Magnum Photos. It is an early (1966) photograph of Muhammad Ali by Thomas Hoepker.

Muhammad Ali By Thomas Hoepker

Muhammad Ali By Thomas Hoepker

A Few Images To Start With.

This first image is of some Honesty Seed Pods  that I found in a friends garden. Once the outer layers of the pods have come away they reveal a lustrous membrane.

Honesty seed pods

This image was created by manipulating a photograph of a fragment of Poppy leaf in Photoshop.

Abstract image of a manipulated leaf fragment

The poppy is one of my favourite flowers and our garden is full of them. These were grown in a pot so they could be taken into the studio to be very gently lit.

Monochrome image of 2 poppies

A Peak District landscape. One of my old climbing haunts, Lawrencefield Quarry above Hathersage. These stunted Birch trees have sprung up in the quarry bed.

Gnarled Silver Birch trees at Lawrencefield.

All of these images have been beautifully printed for me by my good friend and collaborator Jack Lowe on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag.

Next time I will share with you some Platinum/Palladium prints. In the mean time please have a look at my other website 139printroom which is all about Platinum/Palladium printing.