Cyanotypes.


Whilst reading about photography I found William Fox Talbots Cyanotypes (1). a technique using light senstive paper treated with Sodium Salts.

Anna Atkins who was Talbots friend made great Cyanotypes for her book Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions in 1843. (2). The British Library owns a copy of this rare book only 17 copies are known to exist.

Anna_Atkins_algae_cyanotype

She learnt the technique from him but took it to a new level of detail. She then worked on Calotypes a similar process but using Silver Choride and other Silver Salts. Exposures were long, an hour or more being the norm she used the process to capture prominent people who had to sit still for at least this duration.

To capture my images I trapped the subject between two sheets of glass and then exposed the paper for either a few seconds on a bright sunny day or several minutes on a dull day. The light reacts with the paper making an image.

You fix using fresh water just rinsing the exposure in the sink. The inactive areas wash away leaving a fixed image.The process is simple the images are complex.

I experimented with images of ferns, fronds and feathers because they have lots of detail within them.

I looked at the work of William Fox Talbot, Anna Atkins and a great modern artist from Bristol Kinetta Hill. Kinetta and I chatted on Facebook she inspired me to try one of her techniques. I can only get better as I experiment with exposure times. After all this is what my predecessors would have done.

 

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It amazes me to think that these images were being produced over 200 years ago. I got something from doing this I am so used to firing the shutter on a digital camera and going home with 500 shots of the same thing. This bit of play made me think about stopping and getting it right in camera in just one shot.

References

(1). Atkins, A. (1853). Cyanotypes of Cystopteris Fragilis. [Cyanotype] Bradford: National Media Museum.

(2). Atkins, A. (1880). Photographs of British algae.

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