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Temperature and Humidity Control
I have often wondered what attracts me to the alternative processes that I practise. By nature I am a perfectionist. Very particular. Like Goldilocks, I like things to be ‘just right’. And yet, none of the printing processes I’m practising, (platinum palladium, carbon and silver gelatine) align with those traits. Despite this, I continue to print and I continue to enjoy the challenge. And therein lies the answer to my dilemma, or at least part thereof. The challenge is the attraction.
None of these processes are easy. Each is a skill unto itself. Each has a plethora of hurdles to overcome. But as each challenge is overcome, there is a wonderful sense of achievement. And so I believe that ultimately, the struggle to achieve the goal, and the satisfaction that that achievement brings, ultimately makes all the effort worthwhile.
This however, does not make the challenges any less frustrating. By challenges, I mean the plethora of variables which lead to seemingly limitless print variations. Here I am speaking with particular reference to platinum palladium printing which is what I have focussed on recently. Each print I make (and there have been numerous) brings forth a different result. I meticulously log all my procedures and results, carefully assessing all the factors before moving on to the next print. I’m always chasing that ‘just right’ result.
When I started out printing, I was working out of my bathroom. This room, although ideal in the sense that it was divided into a wet area and a dry area, did not have any ventilation – particularly since the windows were boarded up. In addition, I live in Queensland which has an extremely hot and humid climate. After chasing my tail for months I came to the conclusion that I would never be able to achieve predictable results with my hot and humid environment. For every different time of day, and every different day, I was producing a different print. Reflecting on my notes, I eventually acknowledged that the variable temperature and humidity were my biggest enemies. Every day was too hot, too humid. Never ‘just right’.
When making platinum palladium prints, control of temperature and humidity is crucial. Fortunately I have been able to build my own darkroom. Starting from the ground up I have been able (with the help of insulation, an air conditioner and a dehumidifier) to tame my environment. In a sense I have been able to make friends with this Queensland climate.
Moving forward I can now be master of the temperature in my workspace, control the humidity. Eventually I have a space to work in which is 'just right'.