Blueprint: Norwegian Landscape

An important lesson for me about my photography is to replicate it in different fashions of the photography medium.

The ‘cyanotype’ process was taught to me in a historical printing workshop. Standard process was to produce inter-negatives (photocopy photographs onto acetate) and apply it to the chemically applied material. The norm of sketch paper for its ability to absorb the chemical and work comparatively like darkroom paper was a good material to use. After learning the basics of the technique, I wanted to experiment with my medium format negatives as the quality of the inter-negatives were kind of redundant, although dropping in size of negative, I wanted quality over quantity (image/negative size). However this is kind of a problem with this kind of developing, as quality and quantity need to be both efficiently enough to produce a good cyanotype print. These images are made from (negative) inter-negatives.

“WHAT IS THE CYANOTYPE PROCESS?”

“Basically it is a negative/positive contact printing process using paper coated in iron salts to produce a blue image. The traditional method of coating the paper is to prepare two solutions:

Solution A. Ferric ammonium citrate (green) 20g with water 100ml

Solution B. Potassium ferryicyanide 8g with water 100ml

These solutions can be prepared in normal room lighting and stored almost indefinatly. To use, equal parts of A and B are mixed together under subdued light – weak tungsten, not flurescent or daylight. Mixing the two solutions produces Ferric ferrocyanide or Prussian blue. On exposure to UV light the ferric salts are reduced to ferrious salts which are insoluable and form the image. Processing is a simple matter of washing in water to remove the unexposed ferric salts.”

“no one but a vandal would print a landscape in red, or cyanotype” – Peter Henry Emerson,  Naturalistic Photography

 – Extract from Beyond Monochrome, by T. Worobiec & Ray Spence

 What’s great about this process is (although very hit and miss) you simply place your image outside (away from direct sunlight, best on a hazy sunny day, due to the spread of the rays) and give it some time and then wash it then leave it to dry. Negatives take a much longer time than inter-negatives, I gave some of mine a good few hours, but it’s something you can just leave and come back to.