An Alternative to Scanning Platinum/Palladium Prints
From time to time we receive a submission of original platinum/palladium prints for us to consider for LensWork. These present a particularly difficult problem for publishers because they cannot be scanned using the normal procedures we use for gelatin silver prints. The problem lies in the textured paper that is typically used for platinum/palladium printing. The tooth of the paper is lovely in the original prints, but will inevitably be rendered in high detail in any high resolution scan using flatbed scanners. In fact, the traveling light source in the scanner tends to overemphasize the paper texture beyond what can be seen with the naked eye. The resulting artifacts no longer look like paper texture, but rather look like scanning flaws, or worse yet will sometimes look like dust spots.
One solution is to scan the original negative, but that requires a complete rework of the image to duplicate any creative darkroom work the photographer applied to the image during printing — dodging, burning, etc. even though these are comparatively rare. And then there is the reality that most photographers would be very reticent to hand over their negatives for scanning. Scanning the original negatives is the only way to achieve a perfect image without any of the platinum/palladium paper texture at all.
On the other hand, the paper texture actually is part of the image — and an important part at that. A better solution that we've used for years is to simply use a high resolution digital camera and rephotograph the print. Doing so results in an image that doesn't look flawed, but does retain the paper texture in a very natural appearance.
It requires careful lighting — very flat lighting from very nearly on axis to the lens. A good copy stand helps to keep the camera's sensor parallel to the print. Precise focusing and camera stability are a must. And then an adequate exposure to be sure to render the details in the blacks is mandatory. But, with a little precision and some careful work, it can be done quite successfully. The above example from Loli Kantor's portfolio in LensWork #87 is an example of a rephotographed platinum/palladium original.