Friday, March 13, 2009

Further Cyanotypes and Toning

Cyanotype Anne At Lunch
Anne At Lunch Cyanotype; 6x6 cyanotype on Cranes Kid Finish White; original photo here

I've experimented a little bit more with cyanotypes, not always with complete success. I've identified a few problems with the way I'm making them, as follows:

  • The line about 25% down from the top on most of my cyanotypes. This is caused by the negative sleeve I've been using, which is folded over, and thus has an edge there, causing a line in the print. The solution is to unsleeve the negatives and use plastic wrap or similar instead to protect it.

  • The strange discoloration on some of the cyanotypes; this is especially noticeable on the one below. I believe this is due to me using the same piece of brown paper bag for coating and drying the paper on, and so the wet paper is soaking up some dried solution, causing discoloration. Next time I'm going to use a fresh piece of paper towel.

Cyanotype Lake
Cyanotype Lake; 6x6 cyanotype on Cranes Kid Finish White

I've also experimented with toning some of these cyanotypes, using Lipton tea and Arm & Hammer. Supposedly you can do this process in two directions, either 1) soak -> Arm & Hammer -> rinse -> Tea -> final rinse -> dry, or 2) soak -> Tea -> rinse -> Arm & Hammer -> final rinse -> dry. These should give you either a brown-ish cyanotype, or a dark black-purple cyanotype. However, so far I've only been able to successfully produce the brownish variant:

Bay Bridge Girders Cyanotype
Bay Bridge Girders Cyanotype; 6x6 cyanotype on Cranes Kid Finish White, tea-toned with Lipton and Arm & Hammer; original photo here

My attempts at the darker variant seem to have turned out darker, but not distinctly different from their original state. The blue color is less brilliant, but otherwise there's little change:

Ferry Building Roof Cyanotype
Ferry Building Roof Cyanotype; 6x6 cyanotype on Cranes Kid Finish White, toned with Arm & Hammer and Lipton; original photo here

I'll keep experimenting with toning; it's possible I'm making up the solutions incorrectly, and there are also some pre-made toning solutions you can buy. However, I'm very happy with the process in general; in fact, I put my original cyanotype in a 5x5 white wood frame, with black mat, and it looks wonderful. It's now hanging just inside my front door, and it makes me happy every time I walk past it.

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