Cyanotype help!

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by PonieeExpress, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. PonieeExpress

    PonieeExpress Member

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    Im new to the site so don't bite my head off lol.

    Im currently trying to recreate a cyanotype for my history of photography class, HOWEVER, Im doing SOMETHING wrong. It's one or more of a few things (I think):

    1. I'm not using the right type of paper: Im trying to use computer paper
    2. I have mixed my chem wrong: It's a 2 part solution A & B mixed in equal parts from Photographers Formulary.
    3. I don't have enough light: It's night time right now, so Im trying to use all my lamps.

    I've sensitized my paper, let it dry, TRIED to expose it with a large negative, waited 20 mins, and washed in cold water.

    Am I missing a step? Im so confused! lol

    -Thank you all for your help, and I can't wait to see what you all come up with-

    -JmE-
     
  2. tim_bessell

    tim_bessell Member

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    1. Some papers will not work, but if the sensitizer is chartreuse (pale yellow-green) when dry, you should be ok.
    2. Sounds like you have this part correct.
    3. Cyanotype is sensitive to UV (ultra-violet) light, such as the sun, black lights, etc. What type of lights are you using?
     
  3. PonieeExpress

    PonieeExpress Member

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    Just regular ceiling fan light bulbs

    NOW:

    I tried the whole thing with a while cotton pillow case and I did get SOME cyan color on it, only around the edges of where I put the sensitizer. So EITHER there was just more chemical in those areas, OR I was closer to the light this time ... or Both. But at least Im getting somewhere! lol

    My sister and I have black lights, so I may try those next, maybe I can get a faster exposure time.

    -JmE-
     
  4. Gatsby1923

    Gatsby1923 Member

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    1. I'm not using the right type of paper: Im trying to use computer paper...
    Get some inexpensive watercolor, or bristol finished paper from an art store. computer paper may be too flimsy to survive the washing.

    2. I have mixed my chem wrong: It's a 2 part solution A & B mixed in equal parts from Photographers Formulary.
    Yup mix equal parts A and B... I do 5ml of each for 10ml total

    3. I don't have enough light: It's night time right now, so Im trying to use all my lamps.
    You need UV Light, so bring out those Black Lights. Exposure takes a LONG time 30 minutes is my average.

    4 A note on exposure... When you think the paper is exposed enough double it. You want it to look very over exposed before washing.
     
  5. PonieeExpress

    PonieeExpress Member

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    Does the color ever change before the wash? And if so what color or in what way will it change?
    -JmE-
     
  6. Gatsby1923

    Gatsby1923 Member

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    Yes, it will turn from it's yellow-greenish color to a darker blueish color. You can see the image forming as it is exposed. When you wash it it will really pop out, Also to see the final deep blue image right away put a few ml Hydrogen Peroxide in the final wash.
     
  7. PonieeExpress

    PonieeExpress Member

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    THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    I truly thought I was screwing it up. However, I was just impatient! lol

    Again, thank you very very much!

    -JmE-
     
  8. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    When I print with the sun, I let the color go to pale grey in the area outside the negative before washing. If you have the ability to check (if you have a split backed contact printing frame) you can look at half of the print to see if the highlights have darkened or not. Anything yellow/green will end of white in the print, at least with the papers that I've used, so let them turn blue before washing unless you want that area to be white. If you don't have the ability to check, try to paint the paper outside the negative area so that you can watch it change color during exposure. When that area goes dark you are getting close, and then when it lightens up to grey pull it and do your wash. This will be the same as the deepest shadow areas in the print, so you can use that as a gauge once you see what the results will look like with your particular paper.

    Be gentle in the wash too, or you can wash the emulsion right off. I like to soak mine in a pan of water face down rather than letting the running water wash over the surface. I change the water twice during the washing so that there is no staining of the highlights.

    When coating the paper (I use a Strathmore Bristol Plate finish or Strathmore 500 plate I believe it was called) I coat the paper twice. The second coat goes on after the first has set for about a minute or two, long enough for the wet, glossy look to completely go away. This results in a deeper blue look than a single coating.

    Hope that helps!

    - Randy
     
  9. PanaDP

    PanaDP Member

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    I actually only wash my cyanotypes under running water. I don't use a tray at all. I turn the faucet on until there's maybe a gentle pencil-size bit of water coming out. I've never harmed a print washing this way.

    Just for variety, I'll mention that I also doublecoat my cyanotypes but I do it after the first coat has completely dried. I brush the sensitizer in opposite directions to make sure that I don't end up with any streaks of heavier or lighter coverage.
     
  10. ira_

    ira_ Member

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    Thanks to all for info
    I'm just starting and it is really helpfull.

    One specific question for PanaDP:
    Do you use the same quantity of sensitizer for the second layer?
     
  11. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    I do with mine - I'd be interested to hear if others do as well. It seems like you could use a little less since there is less absorption by the paper but I usually use the same volume.

    - Randy
     
  12. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    It has been a while since I've done any cyanotypes, but I used to do a lot of it. I don't think a lot has changed in those few years, the process now being something like 160 years old.

    I suspect that your paper has no sizing. You CAN use unsized paper; I did that all the time, but I used Arches 88, which is a very expensive and beautiful paper made for intaglio printing; the cyanotype soaks in just like blotter paper, and that introduces lots of interesting problems but makes it possible to get great "black". By computer paper, don't you mean ordinary white paper like "copy paper"? Sizing using starch or arrowroot might help a lot, but as someone above suggested, why not just get some watercolor paper? It comes presized, and is much better paper with much heavier weight; it will hold up much better in the wash and since the cyanotype doesn't soak deeply into the fibers it doesn't require the longer wash times.

    The suggestions above regarding color changes indicating exposure are right on.

    In sunlight here in western Washington (maritime climate) an exposure of 1/2 hour would be about the minimum even on our unfortunately somewhat rare clear days. Despite the obvious climatic differences, it would probably not be a lot different where you are, since the sun is still 93 million miles away, but you may be getting a higher proportion of UV which would shorten it a bit; I don't know, but maybe somebody does. A rather heavy, fairly contrasty negative without a lot of base+fog would be ideal.

    Do consider making photograms, just laying stuff on the paper using no negative at all. It's a really great medium for that. Three dimensional objects produce varying degrees of value and sharpness/blur, and transparent objects introduce very interesting images because they become lenses of a sort, concentrating light in some places and dispersing it in others.
     
  13. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    I have had the best results using Beinfang 360 paper. It is a thin paper, almost a tracing paper, and advertised for use with magic markers because it has no bleed-through. It is very easy to get a nice even emulsion coat on the paper and it has very good wet-strength. I tried Cotman watercolor paper with really bad results: blotches where the emulsion soaked through to the other side; emulsion turning blue from additives in the paper; wavy rippled paper ...

    And Beinfang 360 paper is _cheap_ (comparatively speaking). http://www.dickblick.com/zz106/04/

    http://www.alternativephotography.com/ is a good site for cyanotype information.
     
  14. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Nicholas,

    How do you keep the Bienfang 360 flat after coating? It is a great paper for cyanotypes, but large sheets wrinkle considerably after the emulsion starts to dry.

    And Randy, though I've never actually measured the amount of the two coatings, my impression is that the second coat requires more than the first since the nap of the paper and sizing has been disturbed by the first coat. The second coat seems to soak in quicker and to a greater degree IME.

    Joe
     
  15. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Your biggest issue by far and away is your exposure method. Cyanotype is mostly only sensitive in the UV region, and is about 10,000% less sensitive than silver gelatin even when it recieves the spectrum it is sensitive to. You need to use a UV light source. Black light bulbs will work, but will still require long exposure times. My 1000w Nuarc can take between 20-30 minutes or even more to expose an 8x10 print. Because of the self masking nature of cyanotype, overexposure isn't easy to do, so error on the side of too much at first. Depending on the wattage/type/proximity of your black lights you might try 2 hours for starters.

    Also, since you are going through the time and effort, I'd recommend getting some nice paper.

    Regular bulbs are worthless.

    Hope this all is of some help:smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2008
  16. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    I hang the paper from a line by the corners to dry, like a bed sheet, and it dries relatively smoothly. I tape the sheet to a plastic board to coat it and there is a 1/8" margin of uncoated paper. The biggest I have done is 11x14, though.

    The finished cyanotype has a definite crepe-paper 'wrinkle' to it that I rather like. I haven't tried dry-mounting B360. I have thought of paper-mache'ing it to the mount board with methyl cellulose.