Imagine it’s 1873.
Platinum/Palladium printing has just been invented but the print size is limited to that of the plate or film on which the photograph was originally captured.
An inherent attribute of any contact printing process, this meant that 5×4″ and 10×8″ Platinum prints were commonplace at the time.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and we now have the ability to make much larger digital negatives, resulting in the ability to make similarly larger Platinum/Palladium prints.
This year, Richard and I have been proud to take part in several projects that make full use of this new marriage of old and new technologies — Ian Aitken’s photographs of northern white rhinos have been a prime example.
This has been an extraordinary undertaking by Ian, who liaised with the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
Here, he took exclusive photographs of Najin, Fatu, Sudan and Suni — four of the world’s last seven remaining northern white rhinos — in a joint fundraising effort for the conservancy.
On 18th December 2012, Ian was invited to discuss the project on BBC Radio 4’s Saving Species.
Click on the image below, where you can hear Ian being interviewed from the 10:17 mark (I know the image below is a gorilla, it’s also a red herring!):
As Ian explains further on his dedicated site:
In January 2012, I was invited to Ol Pejeta.
During this trip, I’d photographed the northern white rhino several times, but was not satisfied with my approach, so on the last morning of the trip I arranged to get some close-up portraits.
I wanted Mount Kenya in the background and the rhino in the foreground. With the guards’ help I managed to get Fatu in profile. I’d known how rare these animals are, but preparing for the photo I was struck by the loneliness and unbelievable fragility of their situation.
Then Fatu suddenly turned and started walking towards me. I was terrified — they are huge animals — but carried on taking photos, stepping backwards, faster and faster. The guards told me to stop and stand still for my own safety. Fatu came right up close to me and nuzzled her head in my stomach.
I know it’s corny, but at that moment, with the personal contact, I was hooked. I was completely blown away.
The framed prints are beautiful photographic objects…
The 24×16″ photograph sits within a sheet of 30×22″ paper and the print floats inside bespoke frames made of English brown oak inlaid with African mpingo and carved with the name of each rhino.
The set of four prints were first shown at The Royal Geographical Society on 31st October.
They carry an incredible stone-like quality, the long tones of the Platinum/Palladium combination lending themselves perfectly to the leathery skin of the rhinos and their surroundings.
For every print sold, 50% of the profits directly help to protect the northern white rhino from poachers.
Proceeds will fund the building of a modern security base at Ol Pejeta’s northern white rhino enclosure.
For further details on how to buy these stunning prints, please visit AitkenPrints.
Notes on Print Production:
I used my HP Designjet Z3200 in conjunction with HP’s very own Large Format Digital Negative Application to make Digital Negatives from Ian’s camera files.
The final prints were made on 310gsm Arches Platine in conjunction with 139 Printroom.