If you’ve followed my Instagram posts these blue prints should look familiar. I started making cyanotypes using this old-fashioned alternative process photography printmaking technique last summer. It brings the magic of watching a darkroom print develop to the fresh air and sunshine of being outdoors and making art!
To make a print, the cyanotype chemicals are brushed onto a surface, watercolor paper in this case, and let air dry in the dark. To expose prints, a negative image or object is placed over the paper. After the chemistry has been exposed a while and reaches a shade of green-gray, the paper is washed in water. Where the paper is exposed to sunlight UV the chemistry oxidizes and remains on the paper, where the UV is weaker or blocked the chemistry is washed away.
Chemistry remaining turns from green-gray to blue when washed in plain old water. After a rinse, the print is treated with household hydrogen peroxide and turns the deep blue seen in this image.
It’s a fantastically simple, easy and enjoyable alternative process and analog printmaking technique.
Work in progress: Pampas grasses making sun print cyanotype photograms
After picking up a shiny new 6-megapixel digital SLR in 2004 I found myself using less film. Make that near no film at all. I had done my homework, invested in a camera brand / system that offered lenses compatible with my 35mm film equipment as well as the newest digital camera bodies. Experimenting in digital photography was effortless, the results instantaneous. This was a huge boost to my already inquisitive imagination as far as tinkering with ideas, reflections, abstracts go, and made learning manual exposure techniques far, far easier when the results could be previewed on an LCD screen.
This yellow fellow was photographed with slide film for a color photography class study in cross processing. As with so much of my film photography, it sat in boxes & binders… until now.
Between the bokeh of a very unfocused background and the colors of the alternative film processing I ended up with an almost watercolor paint blur of shades behind the flower.
Next time you fire up Instagram, know the odd filters packed in the app have… (dandelion pun!) roots… in old-fashioned film photography.