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Thread: Cyanotype help!

  1. #1
    PonieeExpress's Avatar
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    Cyanotype help!

    Im new to the site so don't bite my head off lol.

    Im currently trying to recreate a cyanotype for my history of photography class, HOWEVER, Im doing SOMETHING wrong. It's one or more of a few things (I think):

    1. I'm not using the right type of paper: Im trying to use computer paper
    2. I have mixed my chem wrong: It's a 2 part solution A & B mixed in equal parts from Photographers Formulary.
    3. I don't have enough light: It's night time right now, so Im trying to use all my lamps.

    I've sensitized my paper, let it dry, TRIED to expose it with a large negative, waited 20 mins, and washed in cold water.

    Am I missing a step? Im so confused! lol

    -Thank you all for your help, and I can't wait to see what you all come up with-

    -JmE-

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    1. Some papers will not work, but if the sensitizer is chartreuse (pale yellow-green) when dry, you should be ok.
    2. Sounds like you have this part correct.
    3. Cyanotype is sensitive to UV (ultra-violet) light, such as the sun, black lights, etc. What type of lights are you using?

  3. #3
    PonieeExpress's Avatar
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    Just regular ceiling fan light bulbs

    NOW:

    I tried the whole thing with a while cotton pillow case and I did get SOME cyan color on it, only around the edges of where I put the sensitizer. So EITHER there was just more chemical in those areas, OR I was closer to the light this time ... or Both. But at least Im getting somewhere! lol

    My sister and I have black lights, so I may try those next, maybe I can get a faster exposure time.

    -JmE-

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    1. I'm not using the right type of paper: Im trying to use computer paper...
    Get some inexpensive watercolor, or bristol finished paper from an art store. computer paper may be too flimsy to survive the washing.

    2. I have mixed my chem wrong: It's a 2 part solution A & B mixed in equal parts from Photographers Formulary.
    Yup mix equal parts A and B... I do 5ml of each for 10ml total

    3. I don't have enough light: It's night time right now, so Im trying to use all my lamps.
    You need UV Light, so bring out those Black Lights. Exposure takes a LONG time 30 minutes is my average.

    4 A note on exposure... When you think the paper is exposed enough double it. You want it to look very over exposed before washing.
    I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way.
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    Does the color ever change before the wash? And if so what color or in what way will it change?
    -JmE-

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    Gatsby1923's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PonieeExpress View Post
    Does the color ever change before the wash? And if so what color or in what way will it change?
    -JmE-
    Yes, it will turn from it's yellow-greenish color to a darker blueish color. You can see the image forming as it is exposed. When you wash it it will really pop out, Also to see the final deep blue image right away put a few ml Hydrogen Peroxide in the final wash.
    I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way.
    Carl Sandburg

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    PonieeExpress's Avatar
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    THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    I truly thought I was screwing it up. However, I was just impatient! lol

    Again, thank you very very much!

    -JmE-

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    When I print with the sun, I let the color go to pale grey in the area outside the negative before washing. If you have the ability to check (if you have a split backed contact printing frame) you can look at half of the print to see if the highlights have darkened or not. Anything yellow/green will end of white in the print, at least with the papers that I've used, so let them turn blue before washing unless you want that area to be white. If you don't have the ability to check, try to paint the paper outside the negative area so that you can watch it change color during exposure. When that area goes dark you are getting close, and then when it lightens up to grey pull it and do your wash. This will be the same as the deepest shadow areas in the print, so you can use that as a gauge once you see what the results will look like with your particular paper.

    Be gentle in the wash too, or you can wash the emulsion right off. I like to soak mine in a pan of water face down rather than letting the running water wash over the surface. I change the water twice during the washing so that there is no staining of the highlights.

    When coating the paper (I use a Strathmore Bristol Plate finish or Strathmore 500 plate I believe it was called) I coat the paper twice. The second coat goes on after the first has set for about a minute or two, long enough for the wet, glossy look to completely go away. This results in a deeper blue look than a single coating.

    Hope that helps!

    - Randy

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    I actually only wash my cyanotypes under running water. I don't use a tray at all. I turn the faucet on until there's maybe a gentle pencil-size bit of water coming out. I've never harmed a print washing this way.

    Just for variety, I'll mention that I also doublecoat my cyanotypes but I do it after the first coat has completely dried. I brush the sensitizer in opposite directions to make sure that I don't end up with any streaks of heavier or lighter coverage.

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    Thanks to all for info
    I'm just starting and it is really helpfull.

    One specific question for PanaDP:
    Quote Originally Posted by PanaDP View Post
    I also doublecoat my cyanotypes but I do it after the first coat has completely dried. I brush the sensitizer in opposite directions to make sure that I don't end up with any streaks of heavier or lighter coverage.
    Do you use the same quantity of sensitizer for the second layer?

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