Cyanotypes

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by LFGuy, Dec 18, 2002.

  1. LFGuy

    LFGuy Member

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  2. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Donald Qualls showed me some awesome cyanotypes the other day, and he mentioned that "toning" with tea increased the permanence of them.
    So I went back to TimRudman's toning book and found a mention to toning with tea+pyro for cyanotypes without any more explanations.
    Has anyone "played" with this?

    I'm planning on trying cyanotypes with digital negatives.
     
  3. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    I thought I read in Tim Rudman's book that staining with tea was not considered archival. (In the tea/coffe section, not the cyanotype section.) If I remember correctly he said that staining cyanotypes with tea darkened the shadows and would give a duo tone to the print if left long enough.(please correct me if I'm wrong.)
    Sorry don't know anything about pyro and the book is at home while I'm at work.
     
  4. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Toned cyanotypes are not regarded as being archival. Properly processed cyanotypes are very archival. The image will last as long as the paper does.

    Don Bryant
     
  5. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    I've tried both tea and pure tannic acid, which is probably the active toning substance in tea. Together with baking soda in different configurations, it can produce a cold black, an attractive red brown or a lavender blue. Very versatile.

    I've read different things about the permanence of these prints. It doesn't seem like toning of cyanotypes was very common in the 19th century, so there's a lack of data. My gut feeling is that tannic acid does provide archival permanence: in fact, it's used by conservators to preserve iron.

    Iron-tannin solutions were also the standard inks well into the 19th century. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron-gall_nut_ink ( which raises some concerns about the archival properties, but the problems seems to be residual excess iron, not the tannin)

    I've used Ware's "New" cyanotype process without success. There's a previous thread about that. My guess, partly supported by Ware himself, is that decomposed ferric ammonium oxalate from Bostick & Sullivan is to blame. The stuff really shouldn't be shipped in white plastic bottles.

    I'm getting "bleeding" shadows with the traditional formula, so I'd like to try the "new" formula again, but I've realized that it's not a good idea to be using dichromate in my improvised darkroom, also known as my bathroom, so I don't know what to do. There are a few other formulas that use FAO that I might try.
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If the ferri ammonium oxalate has gone off, adding an oxidising agent will help. Adding dichromare seems like a good idea at first, but it changes the most harmless "classic" process into something one doesn't like to play with.

    Instead of dichromate, try adding a little 3% hydrogen peroxide to the water used to dissolve the ferri ammonium oxalate. This will oxidise the -freeo to -ferro, and the surplus will simply evaporate - at least when the sensitised paper is drying.
     
  7. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    I did add more and more dichromate, but the mixed sensitizer kept deteriorating, losing contrast and fogging more and more. Interesting suggestion about the peroxide!
     
  8. donbga

    donbga Member

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    I would suggest you read W. Russell Young's chapter on cyanotype printing in John Barnier's book "Coming Into Focus". On page 46 Russell writes:

    "My best advice for toning cyanotype prints is this: If you want a color other than the Prussian blue natural to the cyanotype process, use some other printing method! There are ways to alter the signature color, but none of the formulas that produce reds or browns is stable. The prints will either yellow or fade in a matter of weeks."

    I have seen VDB or cyanotype and palladium over cyanotype and these methods seem to be quite stable so you may want to consider those.

    Don Bryant
     
  9. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    What specific methods is he talking about? It seems to me that he could be talking about toning using alkali only, without tannic or gallic acid. This is a pretty bad idea - it converts the image to unstable ferric hydroxide.

    I have red-brown tannin-toned prints that have by now survived months with zero visible change.

    In his monograph, Mike Ware reports the find of what is "probably" old cyanotypes toned in gallic or tannic acid in a family album. They have a purplish-brown tone. He doesn't specifically mention their age, but it seems reasonable to assume that they're from the time cyanotypes were common in family albums, more than a hundred years ago.
     
  10. Kai Hamann

    Kai Hamann Member

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    Hello,

    the most toning recipes are based on the transformation of prussian blue to ferric hydroxide (rust) by alkalines. In a second step the very faint rust picture is converted by tannic acid to ferric tannate (that is the way a lot of rust converters work). Instead of tannic acid one can use gallic acid and will get ferric gallate. That is the substance document proof inks are made of since 2000 years -- a good clue for the durability of tannic/gallic acid toned cyanotypes. I´ve never seen a cyanotype or toned cyanotype fading if it was processed, stored and displayed properly. For shure the "properly" involves that one uses appropriate chemicals and knows what he does.

    I´ve uploaded a comparison of some toned cyanotypes at http://www.fotocommunity.de/pc/pc/display/1985944 and at http://www.fotocommunity.de/pc/pc/display/2752229 (in that prints made on assignment a bit nudity is involved but it´s only older Playboy/Vogue/etc. stuff).

    I think it is very likely that a lot of toned cyanotyes are simply not recognized as beeing cyanotypes because they are not blue and have the quality of a Kallitype or Platinum print. When I recall it right in Dr. Ware´s book is a hint that several photos in the albums of the UK royal family might be toned cyanotypes.

    All the best
    Kai Hamann
     
  11. John_Brewer

    John_Brewer Member

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    Hi Kai

    Could you elaborate on your toning methods with tannic and gallic acids. What alkali do you use to hydrolyse the cyanotype? How do you use the acids? Do you use the traditional or the Ware recipe? The images of yours at http://www.fotocommunity.de/pc/pc/display/1985944 show a nice variation of colours. My only experimentation has involved hydrolysing with ammonia and redeveloping in tea or tannin. In both occassions the paper badly stained and the dmax was much lower than the original cyanotype resulting in a low contrast muddy print.

    Regards

    J
     
  12. Gustavo_Castilla

    Gustavo_Castilla Member

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    I have and I think I preferd the A+B better and Ilike even more the cyanotype Rex and
    the Chrysotype Rex method easyer to comtrol and well they all are beatiful
     
  13. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My own attempts at toning cyanotypes have been with tea, no alkali. Since my tapwater is slightly acidic, there was no loss of Dmax but rather a strong gain! The shadows changed from blue to a deep bluish-black, with highlights grading through a pinkish tone to almost pure white. If your teawater is alkaline, add a little citric acid - "tea with lemon". No bleach first, and watch the print deepen...
     
  14. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    Ole, you can actually watch the tones deepen when you tone with tea? It takes me an hour to get a visible difference. I would yank it after two, because after that the tea starts to stain the paper.
     
  15. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    How does the Cyanotype Rex method work? I can't find any description online, just glancing references.
     
  16. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I get a visible difference in about five minutes, and tone for max. 30 minutes. Lipton Yellow, 2 bags in 1/2 liter hot water. Steep until bitter and luke-warm.
     
  17. Kai Hamann

    Kai Hamann Member

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    Hi John,

    ammonia is fine because it works gentle. Other chemicals I´ve tried are sodium carbonate, sodium hydrogen carbonate, potassium hydroxyde and some others with different success. Seems that ph control is the key. Simply said I think the alkaline chemical is not only forming the ferric hydroxyde from prussian blue but is also something like a starter and catalyst for tannic/gallic acid toning.

    The last times I´ve immersed the dry cyanotype in slightly acidified water (1,5% acetic acid) for 2 minutes, then after a short wash in plain water bleached them in lye like a 1% ammonia bath. Then again a short wash and back into the acidified water to neutralise or wash out most of the lye near the surface (If not all prussian blue was transformed there is a blue/yellow split at this stage or some blue reappears in all tonal ranges. That´s not bad at all if one is heading for a near neutral black because the blue adds up with the brown of the toned print). After a short wash the bleached cyanotyes are toned for some minutes in a strong tannic/gallic acid bath (about 1%) made with a pinch of sodium carbonate and hot water which helps to disolve the tannic/gallic acid. For stopping the toning as fast as possible I pop the cyanotype directly back in the acetic acid bath for five minutes and wash at last with tap water. It may sound a little bit complicated but works pretty good for me. Gallic acid is much more prone to staining than tannic acid and the toned cyanotypes have a less redish color tone.

    If you want to keep it simple try an acetic acid stop bath after toning to neutralize the base in the paper fibers to prevent staining. I think base=activate and speed up toning, acid=slow down or stop toning is a simple rule that I have to examine closer. Maybe I should buy an electronic ph meter for exact data -- ph teststrips are ar pain to work with and not acurate enough.

    All the best
    Kai

    PS: The toning procedure described is only one of a lot worth to consider. Another one I really like one tray toning because it is so simple and creative. And I don´t use the Ware recipe. My brews are more conventional and in memory of John Herschel I´m fond of brown ferric amonium citrate right now =:smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2005
  18. John_Brewer

    John_Brewer Member

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    Thanks for your detailed response Kai. I shall give it a go.

    J
     
  19. Gustavo_Castilla

    Gustavo_Castilla Member

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    is so simple you will kick your self first credit where credit is do
    It is credit to Terry King (TERRYAKING@aol.com) Terry King FRPS

    RPS Historical Group (Chairman)

    www.hands-on-pictures.com/
    I will finish this a bit latter
    thanks
     
  20. Gustavo_Castilla

    Gustavo_Castilla Member

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    o.k. first you coat the paper with Ferric oxalate Only add a gram or two of oxalic acid (If you have a 500 ml of ferric oxalate, add 25g of oxalic acid) to the solution. to the solution let it dry and then develop on a solution of .05% to 5% of of potassium ferracyanidine
     
  21. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    That's ferric oxalate, not ferric ammonium oxalate? How much do I use in 100 ml of solution?
     
  22. jimread

    jimread Member

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    I first read this thread last year sometime and thought I'd conduct my own little experiment, for over a year now I have had a tea toned Cyanotype on a sunny window cill. It hasn't faded one bit.

    Jim
     
  23. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    Thanks for the update!
     
  24. jimread

    jimread Member

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    Dear PS, alas I have found this to be very true, someone writes about some process or other and makes various statements, these are then taken as gospel and repeated by everyone else. I have tried various processes and always found it best to say nothing and conduct my own experiments.

    Perhaps I have gone over the top writing this, but, well, you've got to say something at some time haven't you (hastily paraphrasing Mandy Rice-Davies)

    Jim
     
  25. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Just what is considered an "Archival" cyanotype?

    I have two images which I bought many years ago. They are cyanotypes made in 1887 and are still beautiful with no bleaching apparent, I doubt that thay had very good care prior to m purchase, and they have been displayed on various walls in my home for at least 30 years.

    Back to the original question, I have used and like Dr. Ware's method, but most often use the original method when making cyanotypes.