UV light source for Platinum Printing

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by julia_pierce, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. I'm setting up my own darkroom, and I'd like some advice on UV light
    sources. I'm not technical enough to build my own, and the weather
    where I live is too unreliable to depend on the sun. I'm looking
    for a tabletop unit, and I probably won't be making any prints
    larger than 11 x 17. Any opinions and/or advice would be greatly
    appreciated. Thanks.
  2. At the lab I work at for platium paladium printing they use a light box. Its a box about 3 feet long, 2 feet wide, and only about 12 inches deep. It has not BOTTOM on the box, then on the inside there is about 6 of those long tube lights. The photo people built it out of pywood and stuff you can get at Home Depot really.

    When you use it, you just lift it up, sent your contact printer under there, flip on the light with the timer, then lift it up and take it out! Its really simple and SUPER bright for platnium printing.

    Just a cheep "do it yourself" sorta project you can do. Otherwise, I think you will have to find a old time Contact printer where it is just a light bulb hanging from a cord that you can raise and lower. I would recommed a R-40 300 watt light bulb, which can be picked up at most hardware stores.

    Best of luck! Platinum printing is beautiful and also very very expensive. If you dont find what your looking for here...I would contact Kim Weston (decendent of Edward Weston) since this whole year he is working with platnium and offering many workshops also. Hes a VERY nice guy and very knowledgeable. www.KimWeston.com

    Ryan McIntosh
  3. Julia

    If you can find one, get ahold of an old brochure from Palladio in Cambridge MA, as they had detailed isntructions on building them using simple materials. If you can not do it, any reasonably handy person can do it in a evening or two.

    If you can contact an outdoor advertising firm for one of their boxes used to display transparencies in bus shelters, or theatres for showing transparency posters in the lobbys, these make excellent strting points, needing mainy replacing daylight bulbs with special UV bulbs, or, best, "high actinic" bulbs for aquariums available from aquarium suppliers
    There is also one for sale on EB*Y as of last week. Google "platinum printing UV light souce" and see if it directs you to the auction site.

    It is best to start off with miniatures- even contact prints from MF negs, as you will waste a lot of time and a LOT of money learing the craft. Big = expensive! Beware!
  4. To start, you can read the article by Sandy King at www.unblinkingeye.com on light sources. This will give you a general idea of what kinds of light sources are available and their efficiency.

    I use a plate maker for the graphic arts, it is a NuArc 26-1k that comes with light source, light integrator and vacuum holder. If you are patient and a little lucky, you can find them in the pre press section of e pay for about $300 to $400.

    You may also want to check Edwards Engineering at:


    They manufacture boxes exclusively for platinum printing. They are expensive, but well worth the money. Alternatively in their web site they also publish the diagram to make your own, if you have a friend that is willing to help you, you can make your own for about $200 to $300 depending on the size and ballasts you choose.

    Bostick and Sullivan also sells the Edwards boxes at the same prices, you might want to give them a call and talk to Kevin, he is a great guy and very knowledgeable in the materials and exposure boxes needed.

    I urge you to read Dick Arentz's book "Platinum & Palladium printing" as well as Sullivan & Weese "Modern platinum printing" both can be found at the Bostick & Sullivan site. BTW, Arentz is coming up with a new edition of his book, so you might want to hold on a while before you buy it. It will have more complete information on new procedures such as using sodium platinate as a contrasting agent.
  5. I'm not into do-it-yourself projects so I found a carpenter/handy-man type who built mine. Total cost as I recall was about $100 for parts and labor, it took him no more than about an hour to do the whole thing. The box itself is quite simple, even I would have done it myself if I had a power saw. You just get plywood and build a box that has a top and two ends, no bottom and no sides (no need for sides and not having them allows you to just slide the contact printing frame into the box). Then you buy under-the-counter florescent light fixtures, wire them per the instructions that come with them, screw them to the underside of the top, and insert the bulbs. I bought everything at Home Depot except the lights, which I bought at a light specialty store.

    Make sure that the lights are close to the top of your contact printing frame, otherwise your times will be too long. I think mine are about three inches above the glass on my contact printing frame. As long as the fixtures are adjacent to each other the light will spread evenly across the frame even at that close distance.

    When your printing times are measured in minutes a few seconds either way isn't going to matter so I didn't try to include a timer in mine, I just pull the plug when the time is up.
  6. One advantage to the plate burners is that many of them incorporate a vacuum frame, which eliminates the need for contact printing frames. Good frames will certainly run your costs up in a hurry, too.

    But even living out in the hinterlands, I found a lightly used plate burner for $500 delivered from Chicago. Buying a flourescent unit would cost as much, plus delivery, for 11x14; this unit will handle anything I could get film for.

    And it doesn't take a lot more space than a decent-sized flourescent unit.

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