Into The Blue

So its been struggling with getting a good cyanotype. Initially I was experimenting with the traditional cyanotype process. There is a lot of information on the net ( but one has to experiment keeping in mind the conditions one is working in.  What paper one uses makes a big difference. One way to check the quality of the paper is that if a coated sheet is left for a few hours in the dark at normal humidity and the bright lemon-yellow coating turns green in colour then the paper probably has additives and is not suitable for this process. There are two types of watercolor paper available which are generally used – cold press and and hot press. The hot press has finer grain and less texture and gives smoother washes (i have been using a brush to coat).

For me the tap water has been giving trouble so i have started to use distilled water. I have started to acidify the paper with citric acid (2% solution) before doing any coating.  Though leaving the paper too long for acidification creates difficulty in applying smooth washes for the final print. Also once one has sensitized the paper one should expose within a few hours of coating it otherwise the images loses contrast.

Now I have shifted to working with the new Cyanotype process. This process was invented by Mike Ware and involves replacing of Ammonium Ferric Citrate with Ammonium Ferric Oxalate. One of the main advantages of working with the new process is that one can store the sensitizer solution for a period of 4-5 months, also the exposure time gets reduced from around 30 minutes to around 4 minutes (exposed under a UV lamp).  The process is elaborately discussed on Mike Ware’s site:

Here are some of the images using the new cyanotype process. The first frame shows the same negative printed with the traditional process (top) and with the new cyanotype process (bottom). The other images below are made using the new process.

The new cyanotype images have much more contrast with less ‘bleeding’ of the Prussian Blue into the highlights. I found that the negative opens up considerably and there is better tonality.

The images are a beautiful cyan but I was wondering if I could get the images to be a bit more darker/navy blue or other shades of blue. Any suggestions would be welcome.

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3 Responses to Into The Blue

  1. Nishi Chauhan says:

    Beautiful images! I so so want to try out cyanotypes. Experimented with my first photogram lately

  2. samiasingh says:

    Nice! Agree with you on darker tones, looking forward to how you solve that. Brush coat is looking good.

  3. Arpan Mukherjee says:

    a long exposure with the old formula can give you different shades of blue. but there instead of green ammonium feric citrate you have to use the brown one.

    hot press water colour paper are good but expensive. why don’t you try etching paper, you don’t have to acidify the paper. febriano rosapina is the paper i use for both gum and cynitype and it gives excellent result all the time. it is a good acid free paper with a smooth surface. instead of using citric acid or vinegar on the paper mix it with the tape water and check the ph value, it has to be either normal or little acidic for developing the print. there wont be any blue bleeding.

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