Platinum printing, despite its great beauty, is now a rare, time consuming and very expensive process. Once the favoured printing method by some of the worlds greatest photographers, It all but died out soon after the first world war when platinum metal became difficult to obtain and the cost prohibitive for photographic use. After a very brief and sporadic revival, all commercial production of platinum coated paper stopped in the 1930's.
Prints are made on to 100% cotton rag paper, hand-coated with platinum and palladium metals instead of the conventional silver. They can only be made by the contact printing method using ultra violet light, which means that the final images are the same size as the original negative.
The tonal range of the material is much longer than conventional silver/gelatin paper, and requires the photographer to visualise the final image in a very different way from making a conventional black and white photograph. The process of making the prints is very precise and demanding and allows for little manipulation. The original negative has to be correct in every detail if it is to produce a successful print.
Pete Davis is only one of a handful of photographers in Europe to have produced a portfolio using this process. The platinum prints featured in the Cader Idris portfolio, are images of one particular part of the mountain, the 'relict' oak wood on the southern slopes. Formed after the last period of glaciation eight to ten thousand years ago, the wood has a haunting quality of light and atmosphere at all times of the year. This special place is, however, passed through quickly by the many visitors to the mountain 'on route' to the summit, and consequently much of these qualities are missed.
By producing a boxed set of platinum prints, it has been possible to allow the viewer to unlock a part of that 'spirit of place', that makes this mountain so special. Each of the ten images in the portfolio is accompanied by a 'Haiku', written by the photographer while on the mountain itself. The 7 x 5 inch prints, contact printed from the original negatives, are mounted and matted to 12 x 16 inches using 100% rag museum board. The title pages and slip sheets with the haiku for each image are silk screen printed on to 300 gsm Fabriano paper. The presentation box is silk screen printed with the portfolio title.
Pete with some of his platinum prints on exhibition at Ffotogaleri y Gofeb, Machynlleth.
A new series of platinum / palladium prints is being made, featuring heads of globe artichokes and other plants from Pete's garden. The seed heads evolve over a period of time after being picked and unfold to reveal an infinite variety of leaf patterns. Individual plants undergo several metamorphoses and can yield a number of photographic opportunites as they slowly change from fresh and live to dead and dried specimens.
These changes can be seen to represent the continuing evolving patterns of the wider landscape and seasons in miniature.
The flower heads are photographed on 10" x 8" film and contact printed on to Arches Platine, 100% cotton rag paper, hand coated with platinum and palladium metals.