The Cyanotype

As promised,  here’s one of my first cyanotype images.

The process begins with coating the paper with a sensitizing solution of equal parts Potassium ferricyanide and Ferric ammonium citrate mixed separately in distilled water.   Since the solution is sensitive to UV light, you can complete this process under normal household lighting (incandescent).   The solution is brushed on and the paper allowed to fully dry in the dark.

Careful not to get it on you, as it will turn your skin blue and is difficult to remove immediately.   As always, do wear a protective mask, gloves, and goggles when working with any chemicals.

Next, the negative is placed emulsion side up in a split contact frame, the dried paper placed coated side down, and both secured by the frames’ latching back.   Take the frame outside in the sunlight and place it on an easel facing the sun.   The paper will immediately start to turn from yellow to blue.

The process takes anywhere from 6-20 minutes, depending. After about six minutes, remove the frame and carefully open one-half of the back, and carefully peel back part of the image to inspect.   The image is ready when the blue starts to fade back to white.

Remove the print and place it in a running water bath, washing it until any remaining yellow disappears and there is only a blue and white image.   Hang the image up to dry and you’re done.

This is but one of many alternative methods to traditional photography, and a fun way to energize your work.

This image, of old wagon wheels at Independence Mine, in Hatcher Pass, was taken with a Mamiya RB67 Pro SD, 65mm Sekor lens, Fuji Acros 100 film, and processed in D76 1:1.   The cyanotype was contact-printed on Canson 140 lb Cold Press Watercolor Paper with Bostick & Sullivan Cyanotype Kit.


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