Cyanotype is one of the simplest forms of the alternative photography. It has many advantages, safe for kids and for the environment. So it’s perfect process to start with while learning how to get into the alternative photography.

Garden Poppies - Digital Negative
Garden Poppies – Digital Negative

You need just the Cyanotype A+B chemical sets, paper, a brush and a tray. The development happens under the sun or UV light. Once the image has developed enough, simply use water to fix the image.

Finding the right balance of exposure is a bit of an art, as the image will darken afterward, over the next 24-48 hours.

Closeup detail of the Cyanotype
Closeup detail of the Cyanotype

Newspaper Cyanotype

Even the daily rag can be used to print onto. I must mention that the paper is weak and very easy to tear. If you are patient enough you can certainly make some wonderful prints on this medium.

Jesse on newspaper - Digital Negative
Jesse on newspaper – Digital Negative
Photogram on Newspaper
Photogram on Newspaper

Cyanotype Stages

The three stages of Cyanotype, Unexposed to UV light, Exposed and finally fixed are illustrated above.

The three stages of Cyanotype, Unexposed to UV light, Exposed and finally fixed are illustrated above.
The three stages of Cyanotype, Unexposed to UV light, Exposed and finally fixed are illustrated above.

Toning and Bleaching

Toning is also very much possible with the Cyanotype process using for example beetroot or either black tea. For my toning technique I used some Irish teabags (because they certainly stronger than anything found in Austria).

Tea Toning Cyanotype
Giorgia being tea toned

Cyanotype on wood for fun!

Using some digital negative, I’ve even got the process to work on wood too.

Cyanotype on wood

HANDMADE PAPER

Finally I tried a handmade paper and to my surprise, I rather like the outcome. This paper is made by hand by Sepp in Salzburg.
Cotton rag, poppies, carrots and beets are the ingredients that Sepp Kornprobst’s uses in his paper. His said, “My paper recipes are all from the 17th century. “.
Jesse on Handmade Paper
Jesse on Handmade Paper

If you want to try out this ancient art, check out his website www.seko.at .

Improvements to Cyanotype

Shipwreck, Ireland - Digital Negative
Shipwreck, Ireland – Digital Negative

Extract below from Making a negative – http://www.alternativephotography.com/salt-prints-and-cyanotypes-a-short-history-of-printing-processes/

Salt prints and cyanotypes are contact printing processes, so the final image is the same size as the negative. In practice, image size is limited only by the size of transparency available and the capacity of your printer.

The more contrast in the original image, the better the final print. This is particularly true for salt prints. Contrast can be increased in Photoshop using Curves or one of the Artistic Filters. Posterising also works well. You will be starting with a digital image in RGB mode, and following a workflow created by Christopher James (“The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes”).

The first task is to desaturate and adjust the contrast. When you are happy with this, go to Image-Adjustments-Invert to create a black and white negative.

Cyanotype Orange Filter Photoshop
Cyanotype Orange Filter Photoshop

You could stop at this point but since you will be printing under UV light, an orange and black negative gives better contrast. Go to Layer-New Fill Layer-Solid Colour, ensure that Opacity is at 100%, and select Mode-Colour. Press OK and in the Colour Picker Window, set CYMK to 0, 55, 55, 0 respectively, to produce a deep orange.

Next, go to Image-Rotate Canvas-Flip Canvas Horizontal: this step will allow the ink side of the printed negative to be in contact with the paper. Finally, flatten the image and adjust the size. Print the negative on an A4 transparency.

Further Images

I’ve using negatives from film, wet plate and digital using plastic transparencies printed out on Inkjet and Laser.

Developing Cyanotype in water - Wet Plate Glass Negative
Developing Cyanotype in water – Wet Plate Glass Negative
Shane and I on Cyanotype - Digital Negative
Shane and I on Cyanotype – Digital Negative
Giorgia on Cyanotype - Digital Negative
Giorgia on Cyanotype – Digital Negative
Herz Jesu Kirche, Graz - Pinhole 4x5 Negative
Herz Jesu Kirche, Graz – Pinhole 4×5 Negative

Resources

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June 14, 2019

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