Monday, May 18, 2009

35mm Cyanotype & Further Directions For Cyanotypes

Anne Walking (35mm Cyanotype)
Anne Walking; Cyanotype on Cranes Kid Finish White, negatives Ilford Delta 400, camera Olympus 35RC

My initial cyanotypes were all contact prints from 6x6 medium format negatives. I'm now branching out, and exploring the medium a little more. One of my first experiments was this multi-frame print from 35mm negatives. While the 6x6 negatives make for nice miniatures when contact printed, I felt that anything smaller would not be effective with only a single frame. However, I wanted to tackle the challenge of producing an effective cyanotype print using 35mm negatives. This was my first try.

The concept was to have Anne walk across in front of me, while I took time-lapse frames. I pre-focused the 35RC, and we practiced a walk to check speeds etc in order to get 8 frames (at the time, my maximum paper size for cyanotypes was 5x7, and I thought that 2 rows of 4 frames would fit well). I developed the film as normal, and made sure to cut the negatives for these frames into two strips of 4. I then printed a cyanotype by laying those 2 strips onto the coated paper and exposing.

One obvious issue is that I printed the negatives the wrong way around. (I could have flipped this digitally, but I wanted the scan to be an accurate representation of the print.) But aside from that, unless you zoom in, it's very hard to make out what's happening in each frame (it's easier in the scan; from any sort of normal viewing distance it's very hard with the print). The exception is the tree in the upper left corner of each frame, where the contrast is high enough that it's easy to see what's going on; my next try at this process will exploit this phenomenon; I plan to have a silhouetted or backlit subject.

I'm also starting to take these prints in other directions, such as: overlapping frames in camera and printing the panoramic negative as a cyanotype (inspired by Stephen Schaub at Figital Revolution); taking a non-overlapping panoramic series of frames of a subject, cutting the frames individually, and re-assembling them in the cyanotype print; doing the same, but overlapping the frames on the print, rather than in the camera; printing 4-9 different frames of the same subject on one cyanotype print; and more. I've also started working with printing digital negatives, in order to make some larger scale prints, as well as prints from DSLR images, but there's something appealing about the analog process in contact printing that ensures I'll keep coming back to it.

More examples of prints coming as I make and scan them!