Multi-Layer Platinum Printing – The Kosel Method

September 9, 2013

I have been researching multi-layered platinum/palladium printing aswell as using the technique for a number of years now. I wrote an article on the subject for the International Journal of Photographic Art and Practice in 2010, a copy of which can be downloaded here. Quite a few people confuse this technique with either double coating platinum and palladium with one exposure cycle or the act of sandwiching a number of negatives together using one exposure cycle, it is neither. The process was used extensively by Irving Penn for a great number of his most celebrated images and initially involves bonding the printing substrate to aluminium to enable the paper to have dimensional stability.

Aluminium paper bonding

A number of negatives are then created which can include shadow, midtone and highlight separations, these are then printed in succession going through multiple exposure and development cycles. Recently whilst researching the technique I came across an interesting article written by Walter Zimmerman. Published in 1913 it reviews the ‘Kosel’ method of multi-layer printing aswell as offering a direct translation of the technique, a pdf of the article can be downloaded here.  Although he states he had not tested Kosel’s working practices he is somewhat critical of the approach suggesting the use of such a technique is ‘principally adapted to use of persons having an abundance of time and a liking to experiment‘ ( I do like to experiment however i do not have an abundance of time!!!). He does also offer some interesting alternative approaches that are worth reading.


I am wondering whether Penn might have come across this article when he started researching platinum printing during his many visits to the New York Library in the early 1960’s. As the article suggests the aim of Multi layer printing is to ‘lengthen the scale of gradations of the photograph’ a claim that I have found to be the case using such an approach aswell as increasing the maximum density of the blacks (DMAX). An example is shown below and  ilustrates a comparison between a single coated platinum print and a multi-layered platinum print.

single layer_ vs_multi layer


I have yet to digest the entire article but will post a follow up on anything that I have found interesting and revealing about the ‘Kosel method’.

4 Responses to “Multi-Layer Platinum Printing – The Kosel Method”

  1. Oystein Lystad Says:

    Thanks for sharing with us !

  2. rfotofolio Says:

    Thank you for sharing.
    How do you attach the paper to the substrate ?

    • David Chow Says:

      You use a dry mount press or in my case a hot vacuum press, the advantage of these models is you can bond upwards of 40×30 inches and also the glass top enables exact paper alignment.

      Here is an image of the complete model


      One can use various substrates to bond the paper to the aluminium, make sure its acid free and also reversible. You heat the paper, bond and aluminium to around 100C for a number of minutes depending on how large the print is going to be. Once you have gone through you multiple coating, exposure, developing cycles, you reheat the print in the vacuum frame, the print can be removed from the aluminium.

  3. rfotofolio Says:

    Thank you so much. I find your site to be very informative and beautiful .

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