The Ziatype Process yields a print that is remarkably similar to the platinum / palladium and is distinguished from it via a few significant attributes… one of the primary being that it is a printing out process. This means that the values of the image are nearly fully realized at the conclusion of the UV exposure and that you can define the finished density, and look, of your image by inspection during the printing-out stage of the process. I use the word “nearly” as there is, as in every alt pro process, a significant dry down to consider when evaluating your image. Chemical development is not required with the Ziatype technique and the odds for a successful print are generally quite good within the first few attempts by a new Ziatype printer.
After you determine that the print has met your intentions during the exposure, all you need to do is rinse the print in distilled water, clear the highlights in a simple EDTA, or citric acid, bath, and complete a final wash. Beyond this simplicity, the Ziatype is more flexible than the traditional platinum / palladium process, has a greater range of color options, demonstrates less grain in the image, is easier to manage in regard to control of contrast, and is equal to the quality found in a platinum / palladium print. The formula is made via a drop count, as in platinum / palladium, and color and contrast are independent of one another… these are determined by the drop count recipe that the user selects.
As in several other alternative processes, the Ziatype retains the traditional “self-masking” characteristic of platinum / palladium. Self-masking is the term that describes what happens during lengthy Pt / Pd exposures when UV light will continue to expose highlights after the shadows have reached a degree of exposure that basically functions as a filter, slowing down additional exposure in the thinner sections (the shadows) of the negative. All in all, the Ziatype is a terrific technique to begin learning about quality complex alternative process image making as well as being the most complex user-friendly process I have encountered. Nearly every time I teach this process to a class or workshop I end up seeing an interesting adaptation and a new way for me to think about working with the technique. Have fun!