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Thread: Cyanotypes

  1. #1

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    Just wondering if anybody has actually used Mike Ware's new cyanotype process, and how they think it compares to the traditional method.

    http://www.mikeware.demon.co.uk/cyano.html
    Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

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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.
    Mama took my APX away.....

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by titrisol
    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rogueish
    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.
    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

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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.

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    Ole
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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.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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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!

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    Quote Originally Posted by psvensson
    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.
    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

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    Quote Originally Posted by donbga
    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."
    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. #10

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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

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