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  1. #1
    JCT
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    Alt process as a "Chemistry" project?

    Hi all,

    Here's a somewhat off-the-wall question. My oldest is in an advanced chemistry class in high school and it is "end of the year" project time. She is a pretty avid photographer; I even cleaned up an old Rolleicord Vb for her -- one of her prized possessions (next to her iPod :rolleyes: ).


    Apparently most of the students come up with projects that demonstrate how to make things explode or how enzymatic reactions work . Since she already has a hobby that is based on chemistry -- I though she might leverage it in a project.

    The only major requirement is a write-up on the chemical principles employed (and presented as a powerpoint) AND an in-class demo.

    Might one of the alternative processes fit the bill? I suppose she could perform the exposure outside class (and document the process with pics) and then develop in-class. I was thinking maybe cyanotype, but I have no experience with alt. processing.

    FWIW, my husband is a chemist and I'm a biophysicist with a wet lab, so actually setting up the chemistry, etc., would not be an issue.

    Thanks for any input,

    JT

  2. #2
    juan's Avatar
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    For the in class demo, I would think cyanotype or Vandyke Brown would be good. The former alternative process teacher at our local university taught those processes in the classroom under normal fluorescent light, so there would be no need for room darkening.
    juan

  3. #3
    Ole
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    Cyanotype will be great. Pre-coated paper, then expose in the classroom, develop by washing with water. what could be easier?
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

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    I agree that Cyanotype would be the best. I've done it with my kids making photograms and they love it. Coat the paper inside, expose it outside and then process in running water. Simple and effecient

    Phill
    It is not tradition that secures the survival of our craft, its the craft that secures the survival of our traditions.

  5. #5
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    I just answered a note from a HS group doing just that type of project. They wanted to compare the qualities of VDB, Cyanotype and silver halide imaging regarding speed, grain, sharpness and other properties. It was more of a paper than lab experiments, but may have included a demo of the Cyanotype.

    There is quite a bit of it going around right now, and I have assisted in this regard in the past. I think it is a great idea.

    Kodak supported this at one time, supplying little kits for pinhole cameras with film, pieces of color film with images in C, M and Y to show how the colors were put together and things like that.

    Go for it.

    PE

  6. #6
    JCT
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    Great! This was my gut feeling on this, glad to know I was on the right track.

    From digging around it seems that the Photographer's Formulary kit is a reasonable starting point (and I live 20 minutes from B&H).

    I'll search for some paper recommendations (though if anyone has a strong suggestion please weigh in).

    One question, does anyone know of a good description of the actual chemistry involved? I'm sure that her father will put her through the ringer before she presents, but I'm actually curious as well.

    Thanks!

    JT

  7. #7
    Akki14's Avatar
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prussian_blue Under Composition. It's actually quite complex and interesting. Also under Other Properties. It has a magnetic response to light, which is strange... Might need help from the teacher unless you have a chemistry background and can simplify it down a little.

    Cyanotypes are lovely and it's easy to mix up the traditional formula stuff. I have loads around. Haven't been able to make any recently due to heavy cloud/rain for nearly two weeks now

  8. #8
    winger's Avatar
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    the instructions with the Photographer's Formulary kit have some explanation of the chemistry. It shouldn't be too tough to fill in the exact reactions. Wikipedia probably has some info and a good google search might find more.
    good project idea!

  9. #9

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    JT,

    Check out Dr. Mike Wares home page. He has several papers, etc on the chemistry of many alt process's. Hope its helpful in some way. Best of luck.

    Monty
    http://www.mikeware.demon.co.uk/

    You want the technical issues on the drop down menu

  10. #10

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    Might one of the alternative processes fit the bill? I suppose she could perform the exposure outside class (and document the process with pics) and then develop in-class. I was thinking maybe cyanotype, but I have no experience with alt. processing.
    I'm involved in scientific education in a couple of different ways - I've been a graduate teaching assistant for first year university student laboratories for the last three years (biology & biochemistry), and I've judged kids' science fair projects. The focus in both of these roles has been on teaching the scientific method or the philosophy of science - ie, coming up with a falsifiable hypothesis, designing an appropriate experiment to test it, and using a reasonable number of replicates to get some kind of statistics (at the high school level this could be simply taking an average or showing that something happened 5 times out of 6). That, and designing / using controls (not so much at the grade school level, but definitely first year university).

    So, depending on the structure of your high school's science program, you might want to consider using this kind of approach. It could be something lame like "I hypothesize that increasing exposure to light will cause more of the photochemical reaction to occur, resulting in a darker print." You could nuance it with controls of some kind or whatever.

    The only major requirement is a write-up on the chemical principles employed (and presented as a powerpoint) AND an in-class demo.
    Cyanotype is very simple (coat, exposure, wash in water), but the exposure times can be a little long depending on the negative and light source. If you have a reasonably thin negative and a UV box really close to the contact printing frame (or can go outside in bright sunlight) you might get a 10 or even 5 minute exposure, but my cyanotypes are usually 15+ minutes.

    Van dyke is a bit faster; 3 to 5 minutes, maybe a bit longer for some negs. I've also found it harder to deal with (it seems more sensitive to paper choice, exposure, coating technique, and processing, than cyanotype). In some respects that might make it better for a science project if you want to get a bit elaborate and do some kind of experimental design.

    I actually haven't been able to find too much detail on the chemistry involved (I haven't looked too carefully either), but I'm sure the information is available.
    Last edited by walter23; 05-25-2007 at 01:22 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    The universe is a haunted house. -Coil
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