The Photograph Explained: A creek in the Lamington National Park by Mick Lord

Stream in Lamington National Park

Platinum palladium contact photograph

I have walked on many occasions in Queensland’s Lamington National Park and frequently taken a medium format camera into the dappled light of the Park’s thick rainforest. On this occasion my wife, Heather, and I spent a weekend in the Park and I carried a 4 x 5 camera in the hope of realizing a delicate and textured image. I was familiar with many of the tracks and I had an expectation of what I wanted to create (an image involving water) and what parts of the park I would have to go to in order to achieve this.

By the end of the weekend I had taken 12 photos and I was confident that what I had was going to meet my needs. Processing the films turned out to be a minor disaster. All the photos involved long exposures and I had failed to adjust for reciprocity. To compensate for this error I increased development time. The result was very contrasty negatives that did not print well as silver gelatin prints. That was particularly the case for the image above.

Sometime later my friend Julian Pearce ran a workshop on platinum palladium printing. He suggested I bring a contrasty negative to try out the process. I took the negative for this print, and using platinum palladium (as well as Julian’s skill with this process) the final print revealed the full potential of the negative. This scan of the platinum palladium print does not do justice to the beautiful delicacies in the highlights nor the subtleties in the shadows.

I liked the composition and perspective – particularly the shaft of light highlighting the background and the way the creek winds into the image. The light also picks up the texture and shapes of the foliage. The image is a contact print and its diminutive size (4 x 5) does not detract from its value. (However, others who have seen it say it should be bigger). I like looking at it – it feels intimate.

Julian’s work and the platinum palladium process inspired me to acquire an 8 x 10 field camera. I have yet to use platinum palladium for an 8 x 10. Maybe others are right – it would have been a good 8 x 10!

The technical stuff: the lens used was a 150 mm f5.6 Apo Sironar S. Film: FP4+. Developer: ID11.

Mick Lord

Portrait of Mick Lord