Thursday, May 30, 2013

Richard Frederick
A Marriage of Convenience...Part 4
This is the 4th & final posting of this subject. We have learned by now that the marriage is that of Analog to Digital techniques that can produce stunning Platinum/Palladium photographic prints. This marriage allows us to overcome a significant difficulty in the original Pt/Pd process that required a very large (and unwieldy) camera to produce a large negative for printing a large photograph.
In the last posting I revealed a new technique invented by photographer Mark Nelson called "Precision Digital Negatives". It is this invention that allows us to use the computer program Adobe Photoshop, and a modern digital printer to produce a large negative that can reproduce very accurately all of the rich tonality of a scene captured with a small digital camera. Nelson determined through his research & experimentation that the inkset colors in digital printers had different sensitivities to the ultraviolet light that exposes the Pt/Pd emulsion on the print paper. His method is used to determine the exact mixture of Red, Green, and Blue colors in Photoshop that, when applied to the negative, will result in the very bright highlights in the scene to reproduce as paper white in the print. And through a necessary (and sometimes tedious) calibration process, all other tones in a scene (including deep black) will be reproduced in the print with great accuracy & precision. The calibration produces a "Curve" that is applied to the negative file before printing it.
The figure at left shows the negative I made for the Iris print with the proper "Color Density" applied. It comes as a surprise to most that a negative for a black/white print contains color. This negative was printed with a unique "Curve" applied in Photoshop. The curve is required because the Pt/Pd emulsion and specific paper combination do not respond linearly to the differing light levels in the negative of the scene. It is desirable that a 1 unit change in light passed by the negative produces the same 1 unit change in light (tone) in the print whether it be in shadow detail, mid-tone detail, or highlight detail.  
The figure at right shows the curve I generated using Nelson's invention to "linearize" the printed tones. The blue curve is an ideal linear curve, but since the Pt/Pd emulsion-paper combination is not linear the tones in the print would be seriously distorted if not corrected.
The figure to the right shows the curve-corrected negative in contact with the sensitized paper placed in a contact printing fixture (to keep it flat) under the intense light source that exposes the latent image onto the paper. The light source above the printing frame is reflected in the glass of the frame.
 Following this exposure, the paper is taken into the darkroom (all Analog now) where it is developed in a Potassium Oxalate chemical bath, as seen in the figure to the left. The developed print is then dried, flattened, & mounted on archival mat board. And...Ta Dum! Here's what you have all been waiting for...
The final print. Note that it is slightly warm toned, which is a pleasing characteristic of Pt/Pd. The degree of warmth can be controlled by adjusting the relative amounts of Pt & Pd in the emulsion. I wish I could show you the actual full sized print as it is superior to what I can post on the web.
Thanks for your interest in this age-old & modern process.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

HDAL's New Venue at Aspen Lakes

The members of the High Desert Art League are displaying their new works of art in the beautiful lodge and restaurant at Aspen Lakes, located just outside of Sisters, Oregon. This exhibit features Works in a Series entitled "A Sense of Place" and opens June 2, 2013 with an Artists' Reception from 3 to 6pm. This venue continues into the Fall with new artwork being replaced regularly.

Thursday, May 16, 2013




Part 3
Richard Frederick
In parts 1 and 2 we learned of the need for a large negative in order to produce our desired large Platinum/Palladium (Pt/Pd) print. We also learned that a marriage of analog and digital techniques is most convenient in overcoming significant difficulties in producing the large negative by analog (camera and film) techniques.
So...The Precision Digital Negative: Space limitations on the Blog preclude a completely detailed description of how this negative is produced, but an overview of the process is helpful to the understanding of what is required of the photographer to produce a stunningly beautiful Pt/Pd print. To begin, a US patent was awarded to an outstanding photographer, Mark Nelson, for his invention of the Precision Digital Negative (PDN) in the 2004 time frame. Nelson's invention came about from his research and experimentation with digital techniques to produce "...a beautiful image rendered on fine paper by a photographic process that is capable of making that image sing to the viewer". To achieve that goal is not easy. It requires mastering not only the use of digital cameras, scanners, printers, computers, and Photoshop - but also the development of the individual photographer's craftsmanship to a high level of proficiency.
The process begins with choosing a subject and pre-visualizing (in the mind's eye) how the artist wishes the subject to look in the Pt/Pd print. To accomplish this may take years of experience and practice as necessary to develop the photographer's overall craft. For the purpose of this blog I chose a flower. The flower itself as a subject of nature exhibits a wide range of color, subtle tonalities, texture, and pleasing shape that are the essential ingredients of a fine print. The specific flower is an iris (Iris Germanicum) plucked from my wife's flower garden.This iris as I photographed it with my digital camera is shown in the figure above. A high end digital camera is required for its ability to capture fine detail, and a great deal of experience in lighting the subject artistically is necessary. Following capture the camera file is loaded into Photoshop where the main actions are to render the color image to black and white, resize the photo's dimensions and invert it from a positive image to a negative image. The black and white conversion (positive image) is shown in the figure just below to the left and the inverted image (negative) is shown at right.

A print size of 11 X 14 inches frames nicely in a 16 X 20 inch frame.
The uncropped image size produced by my camera is 5616 X 3744 pixels (18 X 12.48 inch @ 300 pixels/inch). A 200% enlargement (to 37.44 X 24.96 inches) in Photoshop is easily printable with full quality on a modern professional inkjet digital printer. I used my Epson 7900 large format printer to materialize this negative by printing it on PICTORICO PRO ultra premium overhead projector film (OHP). Now that we have a large negative produced by digital techniques, we are almost ready to consumate the marriage of digital to analog. In the next blog we will actually use the digitally derived negative to produce a beautiful analog Pt/Pd print. Don't miss this!
For further information about Precision Digital Negatives click on the link below.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Breathing In Plein Air

Plein Air Competition at Smith Rock State Park

Terrebonne, Oregon (May 10, 2013) – The High Desert Art League and Smith Rock State Park have come together to create an event celebrating the creativity of the human spirit and the spectacular beauty of Central Oregon's Smith Rock! On June 22, 2013, the public and plein air artists of all kinds will come together to experience the amazing scenery, geography, and wildlife of Smith Rock State Park.

The Smith Rock Paint Out was created to bring the Smith Rock experience to new audiences. Known for its world-famous rock climbing, Smith Rock State Park is also host to many miles of hiking and mountain bike trails, the meandering Crooked River, and views of the volcanic peaks of Oregon’s Cascade Range, a perfect setting for artists, photographers and nature lovers of all kinds.

Organizers have a great deal planned. They have partnered with Arts Central and the Art Station to create an area of free family art activities. Several well known Central Oregon Artists will be on hand for artist demonstrations, including Helen Brown and Vivian Olsen. Also on the schedule is a Park Ranger presentation about the history, geology and wildlife of Smith Rock State Park.

The plein air competition is open to all artists working in 2-D media that can be created from start to finish in the park, in the allotted time. A juried exhibition of work created during the event will be held at Redmond, Oregon's Roberts Field following the event, June 25th through August 18th.

The event hours are 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Information, event schedule and artist registration can be found at

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

                         Artist spotlight...Richard Frederick

Part 2
In Part 1 I revealed the characteristic quality and beauty of Platinum/Palladium photographic prints and thus a strong motivation to produce them professionally and artistically. I also pointed out a rather severe limitation in doing so - namely that a desire to make a large Pt/Pd print, say 30 X 40 inches, is accompanied by the necessity of making a 30 X 40 negative and therefore requires a very large camera capable of doing so. A few cameras (and film) that large were made in the hay day of Pt/Pd photography but they required a huge vehicle (probably a horse drawn wagon) to transport them and an army of helpers to set them up for a photo shoot. That is my idea of a hard way to make photographs. There had to be a better way!

Right: An 1850's large camera to make a large negative 

Left: A 21st century modern digital camera
Fast forward to contemporary times. In the 70's there was a
popular tune..."Along Came Jones". In the 90's the equivalent was "Along Came Digital". In that decade & the next, the metamorphosis of photography from analog to digital was accomplished with enormous and rapid development of the technology. Film photography (analog) for both professional and amateur photographers rapidly became a thing of the past. It was replaced - seemingly overnight - by digital photography with ever improving digital cameras, computers, printers, ink, and compatible papers. Compare the photos of the two cameras above. You should have no doubt which is the more convenient to use. The performance of today's digital cameras has well exceeded the performance of comparable film cameras.
The inevitable question was "How can I make a large and beautiful Pt/Pd print using this new fangled technology?". Somewhere in some inquisitive photographer's mind, a light went on. The thought process went something like this:
     I really, really want a large Pt/Pd print for its artistic beauty
     I have the Platinum and Palladium chemicals and large paper
     I have the high intensity light source to expose the sensitized 
     I have the darkroom facilities to develop the exposed paper
     What am I missing?
The obvious answer is that I don't have a large negative. Well, I know a lot about this wonderful computer program called Photoshop and I'm pretty sure that if I loaded one of my beautiful digital photo files into Photoshop I could use the Image Size function to make a LARGE image from the smaller camera image. Furthermore, Photoshop can invert this positive image so I now have a large negative image - just what I wanted. In order to materialize this negative, I think I can print it on some special overhead transparency  material using my $$$$ digital printer ( science is a wonderful invention).
So there is the basic idea and now I hope you can begin to see how this marriage of convenience is shaping up. It is a marriage of Analog and Digital photographic processes that produces a work of art that is both beautiful and desirable. It overcomes a serious limitation in the original Pt/Pd analog production process as it is now possible to make large Pt/Pd prints without the need for monster cameras.

Just below are two more examples of Pt/Pd prints.As you can see, they are both prints of flowers as was the print in the first posting of this title. More about that choice later. I wish I could show you the actual prints, because they are much more subtle and beautiful than what I am able to post on the blogsite, but you get the idea.

We are really anxious to proceed with the marriage. In the next post I will describe in more detail the steps necessary - from beginning to end - to produce our once elusive large Pt/Pd print...stay tuned.


As long as you are here, please continue browsing the blog and also visit our web site at: to see the news of our other talented artists. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Central Oregon "I Am Oregon" winner Patricia Clark!

Congratulations to our Central Oregon "I Am Oregon" winner Patricia Clark!

The Meyer Memorial Trust is creating a network of community-minded people to connect them and support them through capacity building. I am Oregon is the first step in building this network. Learn more about the impetus behind I am Oregon and Oregon Unlimited at Hundreds of unsung heroes were nominated through the I Am Oregon campaign—1,235 of your neighbors, friends and community minded individuals who are creating change in communities across the state. 

Along the way I Am Oregon regional finalists were honored and votes were cast for the outstanding civic leaders who will represent Our region at the 2013 National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Washington DC in June. These reps will then bring insight back to share with your community through Oregon Unlimited. 

Pat is a member of the High Desert Art League and at the center of the arts community in Central Oregon. Moving to Bend in 2005, she founded Atelier 6000, a fully professional printmaking studio and collaborative space for artists at every level. Through networking with other community leaders, Pat is engaging in the future of Bend's art scene and how it can expand to include more and more of the population.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013




It isn't what you think, given the colloquial understanding of the phrase. I am the featured artist of the High Desert Art League for the month of May, 2013, and this is the first of four articles that I will post on this, the HDAL Blogsite. My goal and my hope is that you, the readers, will fully understand and appreciate My "Marriage of Convenience" after you have read all four posts. I'll help you along the way with numerous graphics & examples.

I am a photographer...a fine art photographer. My passion for photography motivates me to use the photographic processes to produce works of art that compel the viewer to be captivated by what he or she sees in the work. The images I make to that end necessarily reflect a significant part of my inner self that is my artistic interpretation of what I physically and emotionally see through the lens.That is the esthetic element of fine art photography...the art of "Seeing". There are also many technical issues that must be understood and mastered in order to successfully produce a fine art photographic image. In order to fully exploit the medium, one must understand the elements and limitations of each part of the photographic "tool kit"...the basic camera, the lenses used with it, the recording medium (film or digital sensor), the interactions of a wide range of camera settings, and not least, the nature and properties of light.

A brief bit of photographic history will serve to show some reasoning for the advent of my "marriage of convenience". In the early days, as the photographic process gained wider acceptance, the inventors & purveyors of same were searching diligently for a new way to make multiple prints from a single negative (usually a glass plate coated with a light-sensitive emulsion) of a scene captured with what we now consider a crude camera. This camera was little more than a box with a slot to hold the glass plate and an aperture (initially a pin-hole & eventually a shutter in a glass lens) to admit light for a controlled amount of time. Around 1850 AD the search resulted in an invention that for an extended period of time was the widely accepted method for making quality black and white prints (color was a long way in the future). This process was given the name Platinum/Palladium (Pt/Pd) for the primary ingredients used.These prints were widely accepted and in great demand for their clarity and beautiful tonal range and also their archival quality that prevented any fading with time.

The demise of Pt/Pd printing came as a result of the two major world wars during which the government need for war-time purposes made Platinum and Palladium unavailable on the open market. The process has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years as these precious metals became readily available again. Pt/Pd printmaking is now practiced by a dedicated & growing number of fine art photographers.

The Pt/Pd print is produced by a contact printing method wherein the camera-produced negative is placed in direct contact with the print paper that has been hand coated (in the darkroom) with the sensitized Pt/Pd emulsion. This "sandwich" is then exposed under an intense light source that is rich in ultraviolet light. The exposure is followed by a chemical developer bath and clearing agent in the darkroom to produce the final archival Pt/Pd print. The whole process is referred to as Analog (as opposed to today's digital processes). BUT... there was a limitation to the contact printing process: the size of the negative had to be the same as the size of the desired print! Imagine how large and heavy the camera had to be to make a 30 X 40 inch negative to produce a 30 X 40 inch print!

In the next posting I will talk about the transition of photographic processes from analog to digital and you will begin to see how the marriage came about. The image just above...
"Dance of the Tulips" one a preview of the Pt/Pd print produced by the marriage. There will be more. Watch for the next post. You won't want to miss it!