Category: Undergraduate Research Scholar Program

Journal entries about my undergraduate research scholar project at McHenry County (IL USA) College.

Using Pin Registration

With the pin register feature you can make multiple exposures from multiple negatives on the same media. For example, to improve contrast of a Pt/Pd print, you can make an exposure, develop and dry the print, then re-coat the paper, place the print and negative back in the printing frame and make another exposure on top of the first with the assurance that both exposures will be perfectly aligned. This feature enables multi-color processes such as gum bichromate with several color separation negatives (typically in the CMYK color space) and even multiple processes such as gum bichromate over cyanotype over platinum.

Simplified Procedure

First, take time to study the details of alternative processes through educational opportunities or by consulting the many excellent resources on the internet including Christopher James’ authoritative volume “The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes“.

1. Create the negative(s) you will use to produce the image and select a medium such as watercolor paper to support your image.

Place the printing frame on a stable surface, face (glass) down. Remove the spring back and set aside. Press a Ternes Burton ST-1 stripping tab onto each of the two registration pins located under the back of the printing frame.

Place Ternes-Burton ST-1 stripping tabs onto registration pins.

3. Slide a negative between the stripping tabs and the glass, emulsion side up , then attach both tabs to the negative with tape. The illustration shows me attaching a piece of paper. I used blue masking tape just so it is clearly visible in this illustration. I’ve had good results using Scotch Magic tape with both negatives and paper.

Attaching stripping tabs to media and to the frame

4. Optionally, for multiple negatives, repeat the process taking care to align the image on each negative with the image on the first negative before attaching it to the stripping tabs. It helps to place the printing frame above a lighted surface for this step. Make sure each negative is securely attached to the stripping tabs.

5. Remove all negatives except the first one. Place two new stripping tabs on top the negative’s stripping tabs. Slide the printing paper between the new stripping tabs and the negative, emulsion side down. Attach both stripping tabs to the paper with tape. You now have a stack of paper and negative(s) that will remain accurately aligned with each other over multiple exposure and processing cycles. You’re ready to make a print.

(The following step assumes you have coated the paper with a light sensitive compound and that it is completely dry)

6. Place the first negative, emulsion side up on to the stripping tabs. Place the coated and sensitized paper directly on top of the negative so that the emulsion side of the paper is in contact with the emulsion side of the negative. Put the back on the printing frame. Making sure the two holes on the underside of the back line up with the two registration pins on the frame, lock it down. Take a look through the glass just to make sure that everything is okay inside the frame.

7. Expose, process and dry the print. Repeat steps 6 and 7 as needed.

Note: Ternes Burton ST-1 stripping tabs are available from Blick and other sources.

The Platinum Palladium Project

In the fall of 2014 I took part in an undergraduate research project at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, IL. The project was sponsored by the school and and generously coached by my instructor and mentor, Andrew Doak.

4×5 Platino-Palladiotype Process print on Rives BFK

A series of ten prints on fine art paper made in platinum and palladium resulted. The following is an edited collection of excerpts from documents, notes, data and images I collected in the process.

This account discusses the printing process, not exposing or developing film. I used existing negatives that were not developed specifically for pt/pd printing. I’ll write a post about making negatives for pt/pd, including the use of PMK Pyro developer.

The Application

Research Interests: Exploration of alternative process photographic printing.

Antique photographic processes dating back to the nineteenth century are enjoying wide interest among contemporary artists. One of these is the platinum/palladium process which can render a particularly beautiful print when skillfully performed.
Platinum prints require a negative image on transparent film to be placed in direct contact with a sensitized medium, then exposed to an UV light source. In the past, negatives were produced in a large format camera. Now, negatives can be created digitally, making new options available to the artist.
I would like to research both the digitally enhanced and traditional processes, produce a portfolio of prints, compare the results and document my observations.

Academic Aspirations: Continue on my path as a lifelong learner. Take a leadership role inspiring younger students to take an interest in traditional photographic artistry.

Career Goals: Although I don’t expect to pursue a career dedicated to photography, I am an active contributor to commercial creative pursuits that include graphic elements. This program would add depth to my understanding of 2D visual design.

Background Influences: In 2005 I began building contact printing frames, a tool that is useful in the production of photographic prints, especially those using the “alternative processes”. I design and build frames that are respected and admired by artists all over the world. As a result, I enjoy relationships with many accomplished practitioners in the field. I’m proud to say I’ve made a small contribution to keeping, and passing along these unique skills.


On advice of my mentor, I decided to employ The Platino-Palladiotype Process developed by Mike Ware and Pradip Malde.

A bill of materials submitted for the Malde-Ware platinum printing process chosen for my undergraduate research scholar program project. The BOM was compiled from several sources before the work began. Only items marked with an asterisk were actually used.

4 each Amber glass storage bottles, 50cc* McMaster-Carr 6120T81
1 each Graduated cylinder, 50ml McMaster-Carr 4436T33
1 each Graduated cylinder, 100ml McMaster-Carr 4436T34
1 each Graduatedd cylinder, 1000ml McMaster-Carr 4436T37
100 each Coffee stiring stick Grocery store
1 pkg Disposable nitrile gloves, medium McMaster-Carr 52555T44
4 each Processing trays, 11×14* B&H PAT1216R
1 pkg 100 1 Oz medicine cups, disposable Amazon B000LX35SA
2 each Glass rod, puddle pusher* Photographer’s formulary 07-0270-0
0 each UV safety glasses* Amazon
1 each Hygrometer* McMaster-Carr 39175K23
1 each Scale, 0.1g accuracy* Amazon B00IZ1YHZK
1 pkg 10 Syringe, 2cc* Amazon B000FMYDLU
1 each Contact printing frame, 11×14*
1 each KMR-03 Surface Gampi White roll Hiromi Paper 338
25 each Wyndstone Vellum # 165 243 (25″ x 38″) Sam Flax # 165 243
25 each BFK Rives Dick Blick 10419-1032
25 each Arches Aquarelle* Dick Blick 10011-1042
1 each Pictorico Ultra Premium Matte (17″x66″ Roll) B&H
1 each Ammonium iron (III) oxalate, 100g bottle* Photographer’s formulary 10-0502 100G
5 g Ammonium tetrachloroplatinate (II)* J&J Materials
5 g Ammonium tetrachloropallidate (II)* J&J Materials
1 each Tween 20, 30ml 100%* Photographer’s formulary 10-1478 30ML
1 each Disodium EDTA, 1 lb bottle* Photographer’s formulary 10-0490 100G
1 each Tetrasodium EDTA, 1 lb bottle* Photographer’s formulary 10-0495 1LB
5 gal Hypo clearing agent* B&H, etc
1 each Pyro Max Developer Bostick & Sullivan SKU1015

* These items were used for the project

Coming Next Darkroom setup