Cyanotype problems

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by stephen_gray98, Jul 2, 2011.

  1. stephen_gray98

    stephen_gray98 Member

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    I was trying to print out a cyanotype using a halogen flood light 500W. I used a cardboard mask which I moved every 5 minutes to test for shading and this seemed to work OK until I washed the print and everything washed out. When I tried in the sun it worked fine so obviously the halogen did not emit any UV light. Am I using the wrong kind of halogen light and if so, what type do I need ? Or did I not wait long enough ? The sun is intermittant in the UK that I need some kind of UV source to fall back on.

    SPG
     
  2. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    DISCLAIMER: I am absolutely no cyanotype expert. I've done 6 so far. So take this with a grain of (Ferric) salt.

    If you got an image prior to washing, then so far as I know you had some if not a lot of UV light.

    What I found was that the first few cyanotypes I tried to wash also "washed down the drain" even though I did full sun exposure.

    Some website, I forgot where - maybe here, suggested to me that pH of the wash was too high. So I started adding a few drop of muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid for brick masons) to the rinse and the problem was solved.

    My understanding is that any acid which brings down the pH should work. I used what was here at the house.

    I'm sure someone with more experience will chime in if I'm out to lunch.
    MB
     
  3. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    I've had good success using 26w (actual) daylight spiral compact fluorescent bulbs. Cheap CFLs leak a lot of UV. I use a grid of 16 in a Photodiox unit, but you can easily wire yourself a grid by mounting some edison sockets to a plywood board.
     
  4. Matthew Rusbarsky

    Matthew Rusbarsky Member

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    Try some vinegar to lower the PH of your wash, but I bet the issue is your light source. Google the wavelengths of halogen. Very little of it is in the UV range. When there is no sun, I use a single 15w BLB. Covers up to 8x8 inches and gives me exposures of about 1 hour with double-coated traditional chemistry. Also, overcast days are the best for printing cyanos outdoors. You might have more sun than you think you do.
     
  5. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    The light you want that sort of sounds like a halogen light is a metal halide light. These are the coolish output lights used in gyms and on some street lights, they take a couple minutes to warm up. I got one for free. But if I had to pay, I'd build something with fluorescent UV bulbs.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    The Philips facial solarium (HB175) is quite popular amongst the Alt crowd in the UK - You should be able to find one on ebay for ten to twenty quid including postage. I scored mine for a measly £5.50 plus £8.00 P&P.
     
  7. Dan Dozer

    Dan Dozer Subscriber

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    While I'm not an expert in Cyanotype, I have done a number of them. In addition to the light source, the paper could have some impact on how much "washes down the drain". I found that a thicker harder paper (like Bergger COT 320) doesn't let the cyanotype coating soak in as much and the emulsion seems to sit on the surface of the paper more than a softer paper. Bergger COT 320 works fine, but I found I had to increase my exposures signfiicantly.
     
  8. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    Yes, vinegar was a suggestion I found, too. But for me the muriatic acid was handier than going across the road to raid the kitchen pantry. So far as I know any acid would have worked. At least any acid would reduce the pH, and I don't know that there are any acids which would interfere with the reactions in small quantities.

    For paper I was using the presensitized paper from Freestyle. It worked fine once I got the pH down. But I can see that in the long haul I will want to coat my own.
     
  9. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    My well water is quite alkaline, so it's vinegar for me. My light's a tanning light, quite cheap from someone who wanted rid of it. I found paper can make quite a difference. Stonehenge is my favorite so far for cyanotype, though I don't like it for other alt processes. Another possibility is that you're just not exposing long enough.

    No one's mentioned the glass. You don't want the expensive kind that blocks UV light.
     
  10. stephen_gray98

    stephen_gray98 Member

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    Thanks for all the info. I'll look into a tanning unit first as I also want to get into gum bichromate. I did expose under an overcast sky but the exposure time is hard to guage.

    SPG
     
  11. piticu

    piticu Member

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    A tanning unit is what i'm using too as uv source. I bought mine second hand for 15E. Never had any problems with it. For cyanotypes it gives exposures around 9 minutes at 40-50cm
     
  12. cheekygeek

    cheekygeek Subscriber

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    Did you remove the glass in the front of the light (between the bulb and your print)? It is possible that the glass filters out the UV (a lot are sold that way). Try it bare-bulb and report back! :smile:
     
  13. Gadfly_71

    Gadfly_71 Subscriber

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    Points to ponder:

    *Paper - the paper you're using may not be appropriate to the process. Papers with a lot of buffering agents in them can cause all sorts of problems. Sizing may also be an issue. Papers that are too heavily sized may not allow enough sensitizer to soak in.

    *Exposure - Cyanotypes need a lot of exposure. They're not properly exposed until the image starts to reverse a bit. Even in direct sun here in the desert southwest my exposures run anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes (sometimes less depending on the neg). Underexposed prints will essentially wash away (they might look fine for a moment or two but then - woosh, gone).

    BTW, are you using a split back printing frame? If not, I'd highly recommend one. It's much easier to check exposure with a split back frame. For my first print of the day I lay my print out (in the frame) and start my stopwatch. I then expose by inspection, checking the progress (and pausing the stopwatch) at several points until it looks "about right". I note the total exposure time and then process the print. Depending on the outcome I may adjust my final printing time up or down as necessary. Additional prints from the same negative that day get exposed using the time I recording during the test (with any adjustments I may have deemed necessary). The procedure is the same (just a bit more lengthy) if I expose in my UV box.

    Good luck!

    -Andrew
     
  14. Herzeleid

    Herzeleid Member

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  15. Taraxacum

    Taraxacum Member

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    Obviosuly the light/exposure is the issue here. A Halogen light gives very little UV in the wavelengths used in iron based processes. You could easily be looking at exposures of around 1hr or more (depending of lots of diffrent factors of course). In the UK here most likely the easiest ones to get are the 'bug killer' bulbs, BL tubes I've always found to be the best but not as easy to source or as cheap. A lot will depends on what size your printing of course and how much you want to invest. As for using the sun - well I get a exposure of about 10mins when I'm down in SW France, or about 20-30mins here on a sunny day. You just often need to wait a few months for one though!

    Another thing is - are you using any sufactant in your recipie? If not I think some of problem is the fact that the cyanotype solution is just 'sitting' on the surface of the paper, therefore VERY easily washed off. One thing I can strongly recommend is a tiny amount of sufactant to help the sensitiser just penatrate into the very top surface of the paper, rather than sit on the surface.

    The normal one used is Tween 20 (i.e. Polysorbate 20). I would mix up about a 2% solution and maybe add 1 drop of that per 5-10mls of sensitizer just before coating. It may well also help you with the coating process. If you dont have/cant get any Tween 20 try using the same dilution of photo-flo as it will help break the water tension a bit. It's not so great but it might help you see if this is the issue.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2013