Horses for Courses

One of these days someone will explain to me why it is that people still compare the two processes of platinum-palladium and gelatin silver. Of course, we all know that oils are far superior to watercolours…

What must be understood is that these silver prints and this look is what Penn was after. Some of his silver work was bleached slightly in a solution of dilute potassium ferricyanide, which has the effect of reducing the highlights to a pure white. When used in conjunction with a contrasty print to begin with, this can result in a print with very deep blacks and very little detail in the white areas. Penn was a master printer and could have easily replicated the tones in a silver print to look like a platinum if he’d wanted to. But he didn’t, this was his choice. So to compare Penn’s silver work with his platinum prints is wrong.