Platinum/Palladium printing has "Wizard of Oz-like" mystique and a sense of mysterious alchemy beyond most photographic processes, but don't fret, it's not that difficult to get started. After my personal hands-on introduction (thank you, William Laven), Dick Arentz provides both the simple path to getting started, and then details comprehensive areas of specialty which he makes pretty helpful sense of. If you are already familiar with Platinum/Palladium, there is enough which has been pioneered in the recent several decades to allow a refresher for old photography hounds. For those starting out, just get the basic kit, read through the core sections of the book several times, then follow the three (3) pages of Chapter 6 - "The First Print". Once you have produced a few Palladium prints, cruise Chapter 7 - "Calibration" which provides a nice mental snack. Then move on to Chapter 8 - "The Platinum and Palladium Print", where having gotten past the panic of getting started, you can actually work out your basic functional understanding of the process. Like when that adult helped you launch on your first bike ride, suddenly you will be moving on your own and starting to get in the groove of the process.
For the silver old-timers, the sensitometry chapter and discussion of Pyro developers will really come into play as you confront the issues of "do I have to choose between making negatives for Platinum or silver ..." Pyro can play equally well in both environments, and was very liberating when I realized that I had a rich path of negative making without conflicts ahead of me. Pyro is an opportunity to evolve once again during this lifetime.
I use 8x10 for my serious work, and with standard films and papers going the way of the buffalo, I now understand what I need to do to use this remarkable process without being on a completely dead-end path.
There are several major advantages to gaining an ability to print Platinum/Palladium:
1. They can't discontinue the product! When you put a small number of drops of specific chemistry in a little cup, evenly coat the paper, expose it to UV light, slip the print into developer for two minutes, clear in three baths for 5 minutes each and then wash - it's like discoving fire as a tool. Pretty basic stuff, but very thrilling!
2. No fixer fumes.
3. You can work with the lights on.
4. You don't need a completely tweaked out darkroom in order to work - a simple space can be transformed into a miracle production facility.
5. It's fun.
6. The prints are beautiful. It will take time to figure it out, gain a vocabulary with the materials and get solid with your workflow, but Dick's book will hold your hand as you take the path towards a new, fruitful printing adventure.
Enthusiasm may inspire you to purchase other books, but this one can get you started successfully, and at the same time, it will provide plenty of sustenance as you grow. Or if you are already knowledgeable, there's plenty to chew on. If you are too advanced and find anything to be critical about in this book, write your own and share it with us!
If it still seems overwhelming to get started, find some fellow photo adventurer so that you can try it out together. Pulling prints on hand coated paper which are archivally stable, have long scale and beautiful physical presence, well, it could make an old dog thrilled about photography again, or simply inspire a newbee with a very remarkable way to make stunning prints. There are challenges, and there are plenty of mysteries, but if you have large format negatives hanging around, or you are boo-hoo-hooing that conventional photography is dying, being replaced by digital, this book will help dry those tears. Get going and happy printing!