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  1. #1

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    Vinegar to develop cyanotypes

    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?


  2. #2

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    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. #3

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    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...

    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

  4. #4

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    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!

    Regards,
    Loris.


    Quote Originally Posted by noeffred View Post
    ...
    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

  5. #5

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    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"

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

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by noeffred View Post
    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...

    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
    I'm glad you have the same exposure difference, I hadn't noticed that in any literature (thats not saying it wasn't there ). 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. #7
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    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 2F/2F; 06-18-2010 at 04:39 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

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  8. #8

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    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. #9

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    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 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

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

  10. #10
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    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.
    Rachelle

    My favorite thing is to go where I've never been. D. Arbus

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