Vinegar to develop cyanotypes

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by alexhill, Jun 18, 2010.

  1. alexhill

    alexhill Member

    Messages:
    177
    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Location:
    New Hampshir
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I've been doing side by side comparisons between my water developed cyanotypes and straight white vinegar. In the water its the normal over expose a ton then watch the extra go down the drain. I'm getting good prints this way, but I wanted to try vinegar.

    Im noticing almost no 'clearing' and what I see is what I get in the vinegar. This means my exposure time is half what's needed for a water developed print. Is this normal?

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

    Messages:
    653
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Istanbul, Tu
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    IME diluted vinegar / acetic acid development increase stain and image runoff. (More stain due more runoff actually...) You may prefer to add some acid in the first development/wash *if your tap water is alkaline*, but actually, you don't need an acid development bath at all, *if your tap water isn't alkaline*. OTOH, I was always happy with normal tap water development, therefore I haven't explored acid development much, therefore, in other words, I can't give you the best advice on this issue! All I can add is the fact that: In my tests, I was getting denser blacks with acid development but with the expense of increased stain and severe contrast reduction in the midtones... (That's something we're not much after - actually, try to avoid like hell, right?)

    A note: If you experience too much runoff, that means the paper can't absorb the sensitizer well; trad. cyanotype doesn't get IN the paper easily. (All the processes that use FAC are notorious in that aspect! E.g. Vandyke and Argyrotype...)
    You may try to:
    (a.) Dilute the sensitizer 1+1 with distilled water and apply it in two passes. (Wait for the first pass become surface-matte, then apply the second...)
    (b.) Add a non-ionic surfactant (such as tween 20 or ilfotol) to facilitate absorption. (To little goes a long way! You have to test to find the optimum amnt. for the paper in question; it's very paper-dependent! Start with 2 drops of surfactant per 10ml of sensitizer and work out from there, by increasing the drop count by 2 in every consequent test...)

    Also, sometimes it's better to switch to a better working paper instead of struggling to make a non-compliant paper work...

    Hope this helps somehow.
    Regards,
    Loris.
     
  3. noeffred

    noeffred Member

    Messages:
    13
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Location:
    Austria, Sty
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've been doing loads of Cyanos lately. As you mentioned exposure time was more than halved in my case. Also the contrast is less harsh with vinegar if you ask me.

    I usually dilute the vinegar with water. 1:1 seems to work nicely with 7% vinegar. The straight vinegar tends to attack the paper quite quickly, making the image blurry once it's dry. Of course this depends on the paper quality. The paper is acutally a very important component of the whole process.

    Strangely the cheaper 200g injekt paper I found here works much better than the 3 really expensive aquarell rag papers I tried... :confused:

    I don't have a problem with staining to be honest. I develop the equivalent of 2 or more A4 sized sheets of paper in ~150ml of diluted vinegar. I give the print a quick rinse under plain water afterwards, just a few seconds. It works very well for me.

    I feel that Cyanotypes seem simple, but there are loads of little traps to fall into. The paper, the water you wash the print in, the exact mixture of your sensitizer, the exposure, the UV light source (sun, tanning lamp) etc. It might be good to experiment a lot and once you've got what you're looking for, stick to it.

    If you experience too much run-off you usually exposed too little, it's perfectly normal to see most of the sensitizer go down the drain :smile:
     
  4. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

    Messages:
    653
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Istanbul, Tu
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I respectfully disagree here. It's not normal to see "most of the image" wash down the drain (if that was the point); some blue in the first couple of water changes is normal, but more than this would mean the paper isn't able to hold the sensitizer well. (Either due the paper's structural and/or chemical incompatibility with the process, or due non-optimum coating practice...) The more blue in the wash water, the less max. image density. In case of tricolor gum over cyanotype, that wouldn't matter much (actually it's desirable), but in case of single layer straight cyanotype prints, not being able to get the max. possible density could be disturbing for some - like me! :wink:

    Regards,
    Loris.


     
  5. noeffred

    noeffred Member

    Messages:
    13
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Location:
    Austria, Sty
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You're right, if you start washing off the image from the carrier then you're in trouble. I meant you wash off all the superfluous sensitizer. The wording might be unfortunate.

    When I take off the negatives the image underneath image is blue/brown-ish, and there is not much to see. All that washes off and it clears beautifully. I call that "most of the image" :wink:

    Too bad I just gave away all my best prints... Maybe I can scan some of the second best as examples :D
     
  6. alexhill

    alexhill Member

    Messages:
    177
    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Location:
    New Hampshir
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I'm glad you have the same exposure difference, I hadn't noticed that in any literature (thats not saying it wasn't there :tongue: ). I am quite happy with the straight vinegar on the two negs I tried. The shadows look a little lighter than I'd want- and double coating didn't help. I'm going to tone a few with tanic acid which should push the darks.


    I can get nearly identical prints from the vinegar developed and water developed cyanotypes. I was doing a bath of hydrogen peroxide for my water developed cyanotypes, but that is unnecessary for the vinegar developed ones. They both can look the same in my experience (at least for my paper).

    The biggest difference is the amount of wash out. My water developed cyanotypes need to look about 3 stops overexposed, which washes away to look faint, then a shot of hydrogen peroxide (then more washing) brings it up to looking good.

    With vinegar I am exposing till I see what I want, then developing. There is the slightest wash out, perhaps a third of a stop worth of lightening.

    I am printing on epson premium luster (which is a digital printer paper). The prints look incredible on it. (I've never been a matt paper person anyways..) They appear sharper, more contrasty, and the blue is very smooth.

    I was getting blotches on other papers before, including in a class on handmade photography. No one could figure it out (I have some extremely bright and talented teachers), anyone else experience this?
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Not sure about using white vinegar, but I use very small amounts of Kodak Indicator Stop Bath (on the order of a few mL to four or five L) to lower contrast and fog the whites a bit. Too much, and the whites never reach paper white. So, using half the exposure time for water makes sense, as it would help keep the whites white.

    It is best to not have to monkey with contrast this way, and just craft negs that match your formula, but I find that you can't be perfect, especially without a densitometer, so the stop bath trick helps a lot.

    FWIW, neither of the prints looks like they have been normally printed, as there is no maximum blue, even on the film edges. They look underexposed to me.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2010
  8. noeffred

    noeffred Member

    Messages:
    13
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Location:
    Austria, Sty
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    yeah, the prints might be a little on the light side thats true, nothing too bad though methinks. How about doing them again and giving them a few minutes more?

    Glossy injekt is a really interesting idea! Gotta try that!

    Do you have examples of the blotches? I have some print with some round blotches as well. In my case it was damage to the paper.

    I suppose we've all read though this here: Vinegar-developed cyanotypes: non-toxic midtone contrast control
     
  9. alexhill

    alexhill Member

    Messages:
    177
    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Location:
    New Hampshir
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I can highly recommend the epson premium luster/gloss/semigloss. I've only tried the luster, but it holds up with out any sign of being angry about all the water it goes through :smile: Its basically plastic so wash times are down as well as drying times. I'll post some pics in a little bit, I want to tanic acid tone one so I can post both pics at the same time

    2F/2F was that the really concentrated stuff or working solution you diluted?
     
  10. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,555
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Location:
    Kyoto, Japan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Alex,

    Something I've done with my cyanotypes to get better blues and overall image quality is to size the paper beforehand in dilute vinegar (1:1 with water), let dry, double-coat, expose as usual (although I found I had faster exposure times as well with this combination), and then wash in normal water. Unfortunately I don't have any examples to show you as I didn't bring any with me to Japan that I could scan -- although I'll be working on cyanotypes again once the rainy season stops and summer vacation starts.
     
  11. alexhill

    alexhill Member

    Messages:
    177
    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Location:
    New Hampshir
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    ooooooooon the other hand, I don't think i'll share photographs of my toned images. My tanic acid is still way to strong and basically destroyed the print with stain. I need to try a citric acid bath post development and see if that reduces my stain and still gives me a good brown. I suppose worst case is I buy 2 part sepia toner :sad:

    I'll give that a go mooseontheloose when I start using real paper again.
     
  12. noeffred

    noeffred Member

    Messages:
    13
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Location:
    Austria, Sty
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've toned some in simple green tea with really interesting results. It turned violet which i didn't expect, but i kinda like it. I think i can put an example up sometime today.

    edit: here's the pic
    [​IMG]

    Shame the scan isn't really good. The print itself looks much better.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 19, 2010
  13. banana_legs

    banana_legs Member

    Messages:
    47
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Location:
    Wiltshire, U
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Alex,

    I had trouble with cyanotype washing away down the sink so I can sympathise! I wanted to know what was causing it so devised a set of experiments that controlled the chemistry of the wash water, the paper and the sizing. Primarily my results showed that it was the acidity/alkalinity of the wash water that controlled the 'colour' of the blue: with acidic, the colour is a classic 'cyan', with alkaline, the blue goes more to a steel grey. With more alkaline development (ph 7+) there is a very slight bleaching effect of only lightly exposed regions, resulting in a higher contrast and apparent slower speed. With more acid development, the bleaching does not occur and so gives the impression of lower contrast and faster speed. If the paper is very acid or very alkaline, it can influence the wash water too (I have made papers ranging from pH 2 to pH 13 as part of my experiments); I had one water colour paper that was pH 9 and when I developed in mild acid, I had very little washout and great fine blue tones, but as the water evaporated and the print dried, the alkalinity of the paper bleached out the fine tones back to white and the contrast appeared to increase.

    If there are impurities in the paper that are incompatible with cyanotype (not sure what the impurities are, I just know some papers have them), then the paper will fog if you leave it too long before exposure: a simple test is to coat a sheet of paper and leave it in the dark without exposing it. If it is still the same pale yellow colour after a week, your paper is 'cyanotype friendly'. Some modern watercolour papers I tried showed some darkening to a green/blue tint of the unexposed paper after even a day or so which is a little worrying.

    The sizing used in the manufacture of the paper determines how well the sensitiser sticks and correspondingly, how much washes off in development, and therefore the final achievable Dmax. Paper that has size that prevents the sensitiser sinking in, as Loris noted, is far more prone to washout. If you alkaline develop, the fine wash-out particles seem to bleach rapidly so when they re-attach, they are not noticeable. With acid development, the free Prussian blue particles stick to anything and everything! Some sizes also seem sensitive to acid development and although the Prussian blue begins to wash out with water development, sometimes acid seems to make the size more porous and so capture the blue at the point it starts to wash away. I had one paper that worked well in this respect when I developed it in weak hydrochloric acid; it was rather disconcerting though as the paper fizzed in the development bath as the alkali buffer was reduced too! The images often looked slightly blurred when this process had occurred, suggesting a localised re-attachment of the blue. A coat of 3% gelatine as a surface sizing can help reduce wash-out and make many papers very usable.

    Best regards, and most of all, have fun!

    Evan
     
  14. Marco B

    Marco B Member

    Messages:
    2,981
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Location:
    The Netherla
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Evan and others: a few points:

    - First, the Prussian Blue pigment, just like many Ferricyanide pigments, isn't stable in alkaline environments, worse, it will be destroyed. Developing in alkaline water is bound to be a failure, just like having a heavily alkaline (calcium carbonate) buffered paper leads to bad results.

    - But not only the end product of the reaction, the blue color, is sensitive to alkaline conditions and OH- anions. The speed increase in vinegar is probably due to the fact that you are creating the more or less "ideal" environment for the iron sensitizer. The iron sensitizer is the stuff that is light sensitive and reacts when you expose it. If, due to alkaline conditions, part or all of the iron sensitizers is destroyed by what Mike Ware describes as "Hydrolysis", where the iron and oxalate bond of the light sensitive substance is broken down, than you loose exactly that component that is supposed to form your picture by reacting with light and subsequently, in case of the Cyanotype, with the Ferricyanide anion.

    From one of Mike's documents:
    The iron(III) complex is photodecomposed to give iron(II):
    Light + 2[FeIII(C2O4)3]3– ---> 2[FeII(C2O4)2]2– + C2O42– + 2CO2

    The complex iron(II) photoproduct is in equilibrium with the aquated ferrous ion:
    [FeII(C2O4)2]2– ---> Fe2+(aq) + 2C2O42–

    and this then reacts with the ferricyanide anion to precipitate the highly insoluble substance, Prussian blue:
    Fe2+(aq) + [FeIII(CN)6]3– --->  FeIII[FeII(CN)6]–

    It is the bold substance, which is your sensitizer and that will (at least partly), hydrolyse in alkaline conditions, leaving your paper less sensitive. The bold/italic substance is the Prussian Blue, which is also sensitive to alkaline conditions.

    - I recommend you all to read Mike Ware's excellent documents on Cyanotype and Iron based processes in general. Well worth the read, especially if you have some basic knowledge of chemistry of your schooltime left... Start with:

    * Chemistry of the Iron-based Processes

    Than, if you feel up to it:

    * A Blueprint for Conserving Cyanotypes

    And maybe also:
    * The New Cyanotype Process

    - When you teatone, you have (free) iron react with gallic acid, to create a classic new pigment, also known as Iron Gall ink, a dark blueish/purplish/black pigment that has been used as ink since the end of the middle ages, but was even known in antiquity.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_gall_ink
    http://www.knaw.nl/ecpa/ink/

    Marco
     
  15. noeffred

    noeffred Member

    Messages:
    13
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Location:
    Austria, Sty
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Evan you made me think and change my process a bit and what can I say? Success! I've noticed that the paper tends to fizzle in the vinegar mix which would be an indicator of an alkaline buffer. So in order to make it more Cyanotype firendly, I soaked the whole sheet in 1:1 vinegar until the sheet stopped fizzling. I hung it to dry overnight and just did some exposures which are drying as I type.

    There is now virtually no run-off at all when I develop it in vinegar (same goes for water as far as I could see) and the tonal range as well as the blues seem to be developing pretty nicely (prints are still drying), I can only advise you to give that a go!

    It seems to me that all my papers have a buffer in them, they all fizzle in the vinegar :sad:

    btw: someone should make this thread sticky. I think we've got some good info here!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2010
  16. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I put the straight concentrate into a tray of water. As always, be very careful when working with the concentrate. It will mildly burn/numb your skin, and will do even worse if it gets into your eyes, mouth, etc.
     
  17. donbga

    donbga Member

    Messages:
    2,084
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    Shooter:
    Large Format Pan
    It's been my experience that vinegar added to the first wash will produce longer scale prints but it may also mordant the tray used for processing. I'm not very precise about how much I use but I would recommend 50 mll of 5% white vinegar per liter of water. If you are having massive bleed off add some tween to the mix prior to coating your paper.

    Also I mix traditional cyanotype with 2 Parts A to 1 part B.
     
  18. An Le-qun

    An Le-qun Member

    Messages:
    82
    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I never tire of recommending Hahnemuehle Fine Art Pearl. It clears better than any of the other H-muehle paper, and the finish is wonderful. And it had better be, at those prices....
     
  19. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    2,386
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    Cleveland, O
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another very good paper is Bienfang 360. It's a thin paper so you need to dry mount the print to get the full paper brightness. Also a bit weak when wet and anything larger than 11x14 can be a PITA. It's cheap compared to other papers used for alt process - 50 sheets of 9x12 for $10 or so. It's also very good for Van Dykes.

    Example:

    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showimage.php?i=37365&c=503

    Final wash was with a bit of hydrogen peroxide to brighten the blues.
     
  20. R Shaffer

    R Shaffer Member

    Messages:
    167
    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2008
    Location:
    Santa Cruz,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    +1

    I have tried the vinegar in the 1st bath, but it mostly just made a mess of my trays.