About Our Processes and Longevity


Our processes and their longevity

A Piezography pure carbon print, first invented by Cone in 1994, is made using the Piezography Carbon ink set.  This particular carbon is of an organic type and classically warm as a result. The black is the darkest black inkjet ink that has ever been formulated. You will notice this if you have blacks in your images that a Piezography Carbon print is really very striking. Naturally, we print only on archival quality papers. Piezography Carbon has the distinction of receiving the highest longevity rating ever recorded at the Aardenburg Imaging Archives. In fact, they stopped the test after 200 MegaLux because there was no human visually detectable fade. The final measurements averaged 0.7 Delta E. And rightfully so, Carbon has a half-life of 5,000 years. It just can not fade. A Piezography pure carbon print is remarkably smooth, highly detailed, a feast for the eyes, uniquely beautiful and warm, and will stand the test of time. 


Our Platinum Print process uses a digital negative that we make from your uploaded images. We use the Piezography process to make this film. Therefore, the film is made with tens of thousands more gray levels than other methods of making digital negatives. Our negatives have higher fidelity than film made with an actual camera. The platinum print process was first invented in 1873 by John Willis and later improved by Giuseppe Pizzighelli in 1980. Our process is extremely close to that of Pizzighelli and we use ammonium because it is the most stable chemistry ever invented. We produce our own chemistry through our sister company, Vermont PhotoInkjet.

The basics of the process are that we maintain a very precise darkroom environment of 58% relative humidity. We make a mixture of 50% platinum and 50% palladium with the platinum in a much higher concentrate and therefore our prints are considered to be Platinum prints rather than Platinum/Palladium. We invented our own exposure system including developing the unique 365nM UV LEDs. Our exposures are extremely short and the platinum does not have enough time to grow large crystals. Therefore, our platinum prints are uniquely smooth. 

The platinum solution is hand applied by brush to the paper and allowed to rest horizontally for a precise 60 minutes before being exposed in a vacuum with the digital negative. The negative is calibrated precisely for our darkroom humidity, chemistry, and exposure system. After exposing the print is cleared in three chemicals, that while safe to use in our darkroom have been established by the National Archives to be the new improved standardized method for clearing platinum prints. A properly cleared platinum print is as archival as our carbon process, and potentially even moreso because the paper does not require any additives. After drying, the platinum is molecularly bonded to the cotton fibers of the paper. They are durable yet uniquely delicate in appearance. Platinum prints have a great depth of visual density due to the way light enters and reflects back to the human eye. They are remarkably noticeable in their depiction of grays which appear to be endless.

The Photogravure Process was invented by Fox Talbot in 1840 and later perfected in the 1870s. It is a photo mechanical process. That is to say, instead of fixing an image via a sensitized emulsion, the image is incised into a metal plate which is then hand inked and printed using a conventional intaglio press under great pressure to transfer the ink to paper. We use a Piezography methodology to produce the positive image using ten gradations of carbon ink resulting in tens of thousands of gray levels more than can be produced by the more conventional methods of using a half-tone or mezzotint screen.

A Piezography Photogravure is continuous-tone in nature and differentiates with the same smoothness and clarity as our other processes. However, it has a very distinct appearance in that the photogravure metal plate is impressed deep into the printmaking paper leaving an embossed edge around the plate. It is immediately noticeable that the photograph has been printed mechanically much in the same way Rembrandt printed his etchings in the 1600s. We use pure carbon oil-based ink from Gamblin and Charbonnel to ensure your photogravure prints will not fade.

Why we use these three processes instead of the more conventional and much easier to produce inkjet process is because we are involved with historical preservation of the photographic process. We believe that if a photograph is worth producing it is worth preserving. Conventional inkjet fades even as the OEMs claim 100 years. The standard by which the OEMs rate their products is based on a 35% fade. Humans first detect fade at about 5%, or a delta E near 10. So a 35% fade at 100 years is misleading as it is truthful. Yes the inkjet print will not fade until 100 years from now when it has lost 35% of its density or color or both. BUT, it is misleading in that you may begin to notice fade and color shift in just 10 years.

So we aspire to a much higher standard and that standard is NO VISIBLE FADE. Period. We enjoy looking at 150 year old photographs at museums because they were made to higher standards yet not intentionally. At the time, they were just trying to "fix" the image so that it would stop developing. But, the processes they invented were by and far very archival. As photography began to commercialize there was less of a tendency to care about preservation and when inkjet came along the standards diminished even further so that the OEMs had to settle on 35% fade as their standard, whereas Carbon and Platinum simply do not fade. Period.