Rachelle, Are you exposing using the WINTER sun in Kamloops? It's not going to have much UV action. Try using an artificial UV source or wait for summer. alternativephotgraphy.com has lots of info on UV sources - including building your own.
I use a tanning bed, no joke! I got it for $50 from a client who inherieted it from Grandma and had no use for it. I've now got 3 contact printers so I can mass produce. it just seemed too silly to get all that light going for one little 4x5 print.
If you are still having trouble obtaining the deeper blues you might want to try the Cyanotype II process created by Mike Ware, the solution is avaliable from Bostick and Sullivan. This coats watercolour paper well when using a glass rod and i have found you only need a single coat to get good results. Also after you have exposed the cyanotype to UV if you use a weak acid bath as your first wash this helps to maintain the deeper blues that you are after.
Originally Posted by mooseontheloose
What's wrong with the winter sun in Kamloops? I know it makes exposures longish, but I really don't have any other choice at the moment. I'm going crazy not being able to use my darkroom (a long story) and developing film is just not cutting it (I'm about halfway through the 40+ rolls I've fallen behind on).
I've been looking for tanning beds in the thrift shops, but so far haven't found anything. I've thought seriously of building my own lightbox, but right now lack of tools and know-how is preventing me from doing so (and finding proper UV bulbs locally). If I decide to get really serious about alt processes I will go down that route, but I have a very low tolerance to GAS and I've already bought so much stuff for all my other cameras I'm trying to really justify spending more money on another technique! I love it though...I've never been more inspired as a photographer (and frustrated!) as I have been over the past year and a half since I started experimenting with various techniques. I know I'll settle down eventually, it's just finding out what works best with what I want to achieve.
Thanks Dave -- I guess in retrospect I should have ordered the Mike Ware cyanotype solution as well.
In the meantime I think I'll try to focus more on systematic testing on the various papers I do have, (with some of the advice mentioned above) and see what kind of results I can get.
Rachelle, the COT 320 is a fine paper -- it is what I am using for my platinum/palladium prints. But I do get better results pre-treating the paper in a bath of 5% oxalic acid...which seems to indicate it does have a slightly alkaline sizing in it. This wetting and drying the print might also help with countering some of the sizing...just a guess. You might try soaking the paper in hot water for a few minutes, then drying it before your next printing session. Just another odd-ball thing to try. Of course if you had some Oxalic acid sitting around the house, you might try soaking it in that instead of plain water. Another strange thing you could try would be to pre-coat the paper with a dilute solution (2%) of citric acid (vitamin C from the local health food store) using the rod...let it dry, then coat with your cyanotype chemicals. I have no idea what would happen...but acidity does seem to help.
Perhaps your local chemist (do you call your pharmasists that in Canada?) has a little dichromate. All you need is about 5 grams in a liter or two of water.
Our pharmacists are pharmacists (not chemists) - same as the States. I'll ask around and see if any of them have anything useful for me.
You might be able to get a 'facial solarium' instead of a full-size tanning bed. Phillips make one that sells for about £50 new in the UK. It would also be a lot easier to store! I have one that I've used for photo/printmaking but not yet for cyanotype, however I believe it works fine. (I'm going to set mine up with my enlarger timer to make exposures more repeatable.)
Hope you get lucky and find one cheap!
Rachelle - Hm. Well for the postcards (and all my cyanotypes which are traditional formula and I'd say they are pretty close to cyanotypeII blues, sorry David and Dr. Ware ;) ) I use a straw like a pipette. It can take a little practice to get a feel for how much sensitiser a paper can take. The BFK Rives I used in the exchange is almost like blotting paper so it sucks up quite a bit and the aim is to get just enough liquid on the paper that you can make smooth brush strokes but not so much that it puddles.
The "antique-y look" definitely sounds like a paper thing to me. There's some cheap cartridge/inkjet paper I have used that has that issue.
When you're starting out, it's good to just buy small packs/single sheets to start out with, just to test. And sometimes the paper company will just change a product so you have to move on and find a new one. Cyanotype is prima donna ;)
Vaughn's suggestion of treating the paper with oxalic acid is interesting. What occurred to me instantly was the idea of doing cyanotypes on handmade paper made from dieffenbachia - "dumb cane". Got to try that!
I'm always trying to give away my secrets but no one ever seems willing to try them! So, I guess they are safe.
bowzart...One of the more sophisticated ways of lying is to tell the truth in such a way that no one believes you...