Image and Platinum Print: Joshua Tree

Workshop with Don Messec

Image and Platinum Print: Joshua Tree

February 5-9, 2018

Limited to 6 to maintain a sense of seriousness and personal connection to place.

The idea behind Image and Print workshops is to create the total experience of photography from finding and taking an image to processing it to seeing it on paper. Nothing teaches us as much about a place and ourselves as completing the process, making a print and it is such an advantage to make prints while you can take all of that learning and still have time to go back and capture more images.

On location workshops are a favorite of mine. I love sharing places I shoot and getting outdoors. Workshop will include gathering early to get into interesting shooting locations. Some days we may reprieve from shooting to get lunch, discuss digital workflow for platinum-palladium negative making, and other interesting conversations, returning to shoot during evening light. I will bring everything we need to make digital negatives using PiezoDN and everything to make prints. We will have a welcoming-orientation dinner Sunday night and lay out the week at that time. Two days will be for printing. Spouses and partners are most welcome, the fee is small to tag along. My photo buddy Jim Hamstra will join us. He has extensive field experience in places like Syria, Turkey, Australia, Cambodia and Vietnam. We both live and shoot in the Southwestern US.

Image and Print is intended to become a series of workshops at different locations that include photo experience, targeted digital workflow, and making platinum-palladium prints. I have picked Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms for this first offering for its photogenic landscape, plants and wildlife and because I can drive all I need for printing with me. In addition we can count on sunshine and temperate weather typically with highs in the mid 60s to mid 70s, light breeze and sunny. Me? I think February that sounds terrific!

There are many approaches to making platinum printing, PiezoDN is the latest which is less important than it is the smartest. to begin with the system comes with predeveloped printer profiles AND ICC profiles. So it is a negative system based on hundreds not 14 or so data points. Believe you will notice the difference. Next consideration is setup. With a printer as inexpensive as an epson 1430 up to a 9900 you can make brilliant negatives and very quickly converting to Piezography inks brings your ink costs down. If you have sunlight I happen to still love standing out in daylight (cloudy days, too) and making exposures truly ‘old school.’ Beyond that, this is also a highly customizable system where with a few targets you can create a whole new level of perfection. After more than 30 years making prints, I cannot say enough about how amazing the prints are and how the problems of past systems simply cease to exist.

In addition we are in an enviable photo location. Your biggest whine will be “why can’t we stay!?”

There will be combination of group and personal instruction. Time will be made for everyone to shoot on their own outside of group shoots. I feel this is important interpersonal time to close off the sounds in our heads and connect with this special rugged but frail place. Groups shoots will be a matter of selected sites that will allow some wandering off for personal shot selection.

What’s Included

Welcome and orientation dinner.

Each student will receive enough paper, platinum-palladium mix, and sensitizer for approximately 10-15 5x7.5″ prints. Metals spreader, developer, distilled water, transparency material, specialized negative printing ink sets and other communal needs to make Pt-Pd prints are also included.

The experience is equipped with Epson printer, trays, contact frames, and other needs of a complete and effect field setup plus typically lots of sunshine.

What you provide

  • Lodging. there are several ways to stay in Joshua Tree or Twentynine Palms. Options to be listed soon.
  • Local transportation. Those who fly in may want to share car rental. Happy to try and set that up between participants.
  • Meals except for Welcome dinner. Plan on snacks and lots of water for long days of shooting and printing.
  • Digital files in the following formats – PSD, jpg, TIFF, RAW. Most images we print will come from shooting during the workshop. For images you may want to see in platinum bring original files at original resolution in addition to any processed or manipulated versions. It can be useful to go back to an unmodified file to re-interpret the image once you have a print in hand.
  • Digital camera if you have one. There are no processing labs close enough to shoot film for printing during workshop. All forms of cameras welcome.
  • Thumb drive or other portable read/write media
  • Laptop if you have one. Especially if it has Photoshop and/or Lightroom. If you do not have any of this software consider downloading a trial version for the workshop.
  • Large enough luggage and/or box to pack prints, with stiff protector (cardboard or matt board). Paper will be torn down to approximately 7.5x11.” Remember this is field printing which means it works best with thoughtful limits. Examples of larger prints will be shown.

That’s it! Any questions about supplies, please feel free to contact us.

Workshop Itinerary

  • Sunday night we will gather for dinner, drinks, orientation, introductions and socializing. Time and place TBA
  • Monday morning at park entrance. This will be early, morning light is worth loss of sleep!
  • Remaining daily schedule will be set according to weather. Some evenings we will gather for discussions/demos
  • Bring a lunch everyday. If it works out that we are in town during lunch let’s haunt one of the few cafes.
  • Evenings select 2-4 images to process to B&W for printing.
  • Two days will be mostly if not entirely dedicated to printing.



  • Registration: $1299
  • Total: $1299
  • spouse/partner Tag Along Fee $200.00*
  • See What’s Included and What You Provide
  • *$200.00 TAF entitles a travel partner to come with us on shoots, join in on group meals but not receive instruction, critique or printing time.
  • Refunds: please read before registering

Reserve your place! Make $400.00 deposit


Flying? look at Palm Springs or Las Vegas

Housing? We are now recommending Twentynine Palms Resort. Keep in mind that this destination is so desirable because it is still somewhat primitive compared to beach or ski destinations. These cottages have kitchens, an advantage given our daily schedule plus we can all be in one location for organizing daily activities. They are very reasonably priced especially if you get the weekly rate. Jim and I are staying here. If these cottages do not interest you try, or for hotels in Twentynine Palms or Joshua Tree