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So Long, My Three Friends

September 22, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

I love landscape photography as it gets me out of the house and into the outdoors. I usually find myself away from other people with a slice of our wonderful world to myself. No politics, no arguments, just a sight to enjoy, to contemplate. A sight that I try to capture forever in a photograph.

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While natural landscapes are definitely the best for getting away from civilization I enjoy rural landscapes too. Landscapes with obvious presence of humanity yet lacking humans. These landscapes usually include a dirt road or a country road, a fence, a barn, or another manmade structure. In these landscapes, documentary photography creeps in as manmade objects tend to have a rather short lifespan compared to the natural world. Even though trees don't live forever either, grass can grow, a bush pops up here and there, it all changes. And when one takes a camera along on their favorite route often enough over several years the changes show.

Bold Three Barns, My First Photo of the Trio in 2014Bold Three BarnsMy First Photo of the Trio in 2014

Bold Three Barns, My First Photo of the Trio in 2014

Sometimes the changes are neutral, just the world changing around us, other times they're positive with things getting fixed or new ones built, but many times the changes can be negative, or at least perceived as such at the moment. Take this section of a local country road for example. It has long been my favorite for bicycle rides and later for riding my motorcycle. And as you'd suspect with me, I often pack a camera.

One of my favorite subjects was the trio of barns and sheds pictured above. Every time I would go by I would notice. With or without taking a photo I would always take a moment to see what the triplets were up to. And unfortunately, soon after that first photograph in 2014 I started noticing signs of trouble.

Three Barns in a Snow Storm, February 2019, Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35mm Camera, Rollei Superpan 200 Black & White FilmThree Barns in a Snow StormFebruary 2019

Three Barns in a Snow Storm, February 2019
Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35mm Camera, Rollei Superpan 200 Black & White Film

I was surprised about the five year gap between my photos. Maybe I will still find more photos showing the state of affairs in between. However, by 2019 the main barn was clearly showing signs of getting tired. Especially the main doorway no longer had its original right angles at the corners.

Three Barns Tired in the Fall, September 2019, Nikon N75 35mm Film Camera, Fuji Velvia Slide FilmThree Barns Tired in the FallSeptember 2019

Three Barns Tired in the Fall, September 2019
Nikon N75 35mm Film Camera, Fuji Velvia Slide Film

And even just two months later the situation deteriorated further with the whole barn giving in to time. And look, not just one but two bushes popped up, one completely obscuring the middle structure.

Three Barns' Last Fall, October 2019, Zeiss Ikon Contessa, Kodak Gold 200Three Barns' Last FallOctober 2019

Three Barns' Last Fall, October 2019
Zeiss Ikon Contessa, Kodak Gold 200

Last Winter for the Three Barns, February 2020, Mamiya 645, Foma Retropan 320Last Winter for the Three BarnsFebruary 2020

Last Winter for the Three Barns, February 2020
Mamiya 645, Foma Retropan 320

As it turned out, the 2019/20 winter proved to be the last. Not sure if it was just the passage of time or the harsh winter conditions followed by a wet spring but there was no way back at this point, the barn passed to the other side.

It's over for the Three Barns, April 2020, Nikon N75, Kodak Portra 160It's over for the Three BarnsApril 2020

It's over for the Three Barns, April 2020
Nikon N75, Kodak Portra 160

And indeed, this April 2020 photo was the last one I was able to capture before the barn could take no more. Then, for several months, a pile of rubble was left that I passed several times. I will admit though, I did not feel like raising the camera and firing the shutter. Maybe I should have but that's in the past now. It felt like I lost something familiar, something I got used to counting on. Maybe even something I took for granted too much.

Things disappearing is an all too familiar pattern now. I've been really passionate about photography since 2005, which is about 16 years now. The number of photographs I have taken during that time is pretty crazy and during the last few years I have noticed the number of "historic" never-to-be-seen-again photos in my photo library grow steadily.

How do you all feel about this aspect of documentary photography?

Enjoy The Beauty That Surrounds You! #etbtsy

Do you enjoy reading my photography blog? Would you like to see more photographs from Buffalo and Western New York? Visit my Buffalo Cityscapes and Buffalo & Western New York Landscapes and enjoy! For more travel photography, my Travel Photography gallery offers an interesting mix of places all around. Please, let me know if you have any questions about any photo products offered, or not offered, I will be happy to help! For a quick reference to all photo galleries and collections as well as all photo products currently offered through my site, please, visit the Products page.

Using my links to do your shopping keeps me sharing more photographs and writing the stories behind them (commission earned) and costs you nothing. You can also use the Amazon search box in bottom left for anything at all. I truly appreciate each purchase, no matter how large, no matter how small. Thank you!

Hay Bales in Snow in Winter, Knox Farm, East Aurora, NYHay Bales in SnowRural Landscapes Country Roads on Motorcycle, Rural Western New York on Black and White FilmCountry Roads on MotorcycleRural Landscapes Barn and silos in white in winter storm in Buffalo and Western New YorkBarn and Silos in WhiteRural Landscapes

By a Barn, Rural Southtowns, Buffalo, New York (NY), Nikon N75, Kodak Portra 160 FilmBy a BarnRural Landscapes Farmhouse, Rural Southtowns, Buffalo, New York (NY), Nikon N75, Kodak Portra 160 FilmFarmhouseRural Landscapes


Thunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021

September 09, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Today is definitely a catch up post going back to June but at least of the same year 2021. I am not an event photographer and most often, time does not play a critical role in my photographs. However, yes, this was a public event of significant interest and by now it is deep in the history for most airplane fans.

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Yes, here we are revisiting the Thunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, which used to be the Thunder of Niagara Air Show. However, due to Covid and a cancelation of the original show the event morphed into a great show over the Outer Harbor of Buffalo, NY, with lots to be seen from many other areas along Buffalo's waterfront and beyond. It was quite picturesque to see the airplanes low over Lake Erie as well as over downtown.

For the rest of today's post, let's let the photos do the talking..

RCAF McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet over Buffalo, NYRCAF McDonnell Douglas CF-18 HornetThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20.

RCAF McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet over Buffalo, NY

P-51 Mustang Mad Max over Buffalo, NYP-51 Mustang Mad MaxThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. P-51 Mustang Mad Max over Buffalo, NY

USAF Boeing V-22 Osprey over Buffalo, NYUSAF Boeing V-22 OspreyThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. USAF Boeing V-22 Osprey over Buffalo, NY

Two USAF Boeing V-22 Ospreys over Buffalo Main LightTwo USAF Boeing V-22 Ospreys over Buffalo Main LightThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. Two USAF Boeing V-22 Ospreys over Buffalo Main Light

USAF A-10C Thunderbolt II over Buffalo, NYUSAF A-10C Thunderbolt IIThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. USAF A-10C Thunderbolt II over Buffalo, NY

USAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster over Buffalo, NYUSAF Boeing C-17 GlobemasterThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. USAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster over Buffalo, NY

USAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster over Buffalo WaterfrontUSAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster over Buffalo WaterfrontThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. USAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster over Buffalo Waterfront

USAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster over Buffalo Main LightUSAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster over Buffalo Main LightThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. USAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster over Buffalo Main Light
P-51 Mustang Quick Silver over Buffalo, NYP-51 Mustang Quick SilverThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. P-51 Mustang Quick Silver over Buffalo, NY

USAF F-16CM Fighting Falcon Viper Demo over Buffalo, NYUSAF F-16CM Fighting Falcon Viper DemoThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. USAF F-16CM Fighting Falcon Viper Demo over Buffalo, NY

Blue Angels - F-18 Super Hornet over Buffalo, NYBlue Angels - F-18 Super HornetThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20.  US Navy Blue Angels - F-18 Super Hornet over Buffalo, NY

Blue Angels 4x - F-18 Super Hornet over Buffalo, NYFour Blue Angels F-18 Super HornetsThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. Four US Navy Blue Angels F-18 Super Hornets over Buffalo, NY

Blue Angels Diamond - F-18 Super Hornet over Buffalo, NYBlue Angels Diamond - F-18 Super HornetThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20.  US Navy Blue Angels Diamond - F-18 Super Hornet over Buffalo, NY

Blue Angels 6x - F-18 Super Hornet over Buffalo, NYSix Blue Angels F-18 Super HornetsThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20.  Six US Navy Blue Angels F-18 Super Hornets over Buffalo, NY

Blue Angels 2x - F-18 Super Hornet - Over Buffalo Main LightTwo Blue Angels F-18 Super Hornets over Buffalo Main LightThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. Two US Navy Blue Angels F-18 Super Hornets over Buffalo Main Light

Blue Angels 2x - F-18 Super Hornet - :ow over Buffalo WaterfrontTwo Blue Angels F-18 Super Hornets Low over Buffalo WaterfrontThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. Two US Navy Blue Angels F-18 Super Hornets Low over Buffalo Waterfront

Blue Angels 6x - F-18 Super Hornet - Over Buffalo Main LightSix Blue Angels F-18 Super Hornets over Buffalo Main LightThunder on the Buffalo Waterfront Air Show 2021, originally known as Thunder of Niagara Air Show, in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. Six US Navy Blue Angels F-18 Super Hornets over Buffalo Main Light

Enjoy The Beauty That Surrounds You! #etbtsy

Do you enjoy reading my photography blog? Would you like to see more photographs from Buffalo and Western New York? Visit my Buffalo Cityscapes and Buffalo & Western New York Landscapes and enjoy! For more travel photography, my Travel Photography gallery offers an interesting mix of places all around. Please, let me know if you have any questions about any photo products offered, or not offered, I will be happy to help! For a quick reference to all photo galleries and collections as well as all photo products currently offered through my site, please, visit the Products page.

Using my links to do your shopping keeps me sharing more photographs and writing the stories behind them (commission earned) and costs you nothing. You can also use the Amazon search box in bottom left for anything at all. I truly appreciate each purchase, no matter how large, no matter how small. Thank you!


Tropical Sunrise

September 02, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

I think you will all agree that it has been too long since we visited paradise on this blog. It seems that my last post from Hawaii was in April. Don't despair, we're getting that fixed right now.

Support this blog: Do you like my free content but are not ready to buy a photograph yet? Using my links (Amazon) to do your shopping helps me share more photographs and write the stories behind them. Thank you!

While Kauai definitely has an unlimited supply of grand vistas, whether along its beautiful coastline or inland, there is also lots to see when one pays attention to details. A lot of details, textures, and patterns can be found when one takes a pause and looks a bit more carefully. Often, these are right under your feet, other times right in front of us. Take the strangler fig as an example. There is so much to study, admire, and learn about later when one has a computer or a library handy. But leaving the biological facts aside, there is also beauty in its sheer existence.

Strangler Fig Close Up, Kauai, HawaiiStrangler FigKauai, Hawaii

Strangler Fig Close Up, Kauai, Hawaii

No worries though, I am not going to leave you hanging without sharing one of those breathtaking ocean vistas. As almost every day at a place like this, it pays to wake early before sunrise and find a spot to enjoy the start of a new day. On this day, I took a walk along the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail and explored Makawehi Lithified Cliffs. Then, I stopped and enjoyed the wave action for a bit, fixed my camera to a tripod, and click, preserved a memory forever.

Sunrise over Makawehi Lithified Cliffs, Kauai, HawaiiSunrise over Makawehi Lithified CliffsKauai, Hawaii

Sunrise over Makawehi Lithified Cliffs, Kauai, Hawaii

For those curious about the technicalities, while I am still a sucker for long exposures the effect has definitely been overused a bit. At each location, I try to decide what settings will express the feeling at the location the best. Sometimes, it's a very quick shutter speed and other times I still go for a very long one. And then there are situations like this one. Let's keep the shutter open just long enough to show the motion but not long enough to obliterate the details - 1/15 sec in this case.

Enjoy the beauty that surrounds you! (#etbtsy)

Previously from Hawaii: The Beginning - Seaside Pinhole Photography - Tropical Clichés - Windy Drama of a Tropical Morning - Quite an Ad - Searching for Sun and Warmth - Not Your Sunrise Cliché - So Peaceful - Some Morning Drama - Farmland in the Canyon - Further up Waimea Canyon - At the Edge of Kalalau Valley - Tropical Sunrise

Did you enjoy this post and the enclosed photographs? Visit the Landscapes Faraway gallery for natural landscape beyond Western New York to see more. If you are a fan of nature's fall colors, I have an Autumn gallery dedicated to that season for you. Please, let me know if you have any questions about photo products offered, or not offered. Looking for a present? I offer ready to hang solutions like canvas gallery wraps, prints on metal, and matted and framed ready to hang photographs. You can see the photo and product offering on the Products page.

Using my links to do your shopping keeps me sharing more photographs and writing the stories behind them and costs you nothing. You can also use the Amazon search box in bottom left for anything at all. I truly appreciate each purchase, no matter how large, no matter how small. Thank you!

Seascapes - Lava & Water and a Leaving Storm, Kauai, HawaiiLava & WaterSeascapes Seascapes - Sunset Colors over Poipu Beach, Kauai, HawaiiSunset Colors over PoipuSeascapes Seascapes - Hawaiian Sunrise in Florida, Anastasia Limestone in Place of Lava, Coral Cove Park, Juniper Island, Florida (FL)Hawaiian Sunrise in FloridaSeascapes

Seascapes - A silhouette of a  Fisherman at Sunrise by a Southern Florida (FL) Pier.Fisherman at SunriseSeascapes Seascapes - Sunrise under a PierSunrise under a PierSeascapes

 


More Cyanotypes

August 23, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Continued from First Cyanotype

I have not planned it this way but as I admitted in the previous post, printing cyanotypes is addictive. So here you have it, a second post in a row dedicated to it.

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UV Lamp Set Up, Without CoverUV Lamp Set UpWithout Cover What have I learned or changed since the last time? First, you cannot trust weather. So while I relied on natural sunshine last time around and got plenty of it I had to adapt as it has been either hazy or rainy since. As a result, I have invested in a strong UV lamp that allows me to continue with cyanotypes on bad weather days and also when the days get shorter. There were many options for UV bulbs or lamps and it took a bit of research to narrow my selection down. Between the several UV spectral ranges, one needs a source in the UVA range, also referred to as black light, covering 320 nm to 395 nm. I settled on the ZHMA 100W IP66 Black Light. In the end, when used at about 1 foot distance, my exposure times match those with sunshine outside.

Before deciding on a bulb or lamp for your needs, please, consider not only the right spectral range and strength but also its potential health implications and build a solution you will be comfortable with. The set up photo is just for illustration purposes and I surround this area with cardboard when used to shield myself from the UV. Please, do your own research.

Another thing I learned since my first attempt was that an uncoated paper is a must if I don't want to have weird unpredictable problems with development and washing. As a result, buy a regular heavy paper, like watercolor paper, from crafts supplies rather than coated paper for inkjet printers. Even the heavy watercolor papers for inkjet printing are coated and that coat will mess with the chemical processes involved in printing cyanotypes.

Since I did accidentally buy inkjet watercolor paper I used it and so far, at least the one I bought, it worked alright if used fairly quickly after coating, say within 24 hours. After that, the initially light yellow coat would start turning darker green, and eventually dark brown. While is still reacted to UV and an image was created it did not look nice and there was no way to wash the highlights back to white. I was left with a strong yellowish stain. I also doubt the result will be archival at all despite thorough washing.

Buffalo. NY Cyanotype, Exposed and unwashed lookBuffalo. NY CyanotypeExposed and unwashed look

Buffalo. NY Cyanotype
Exposed and unwashed look

Let's go over my second printing session. I selected two photographs from Buffalo, NY. One from the Grain Elevator Alley as that always provides a classic Buffalo backdrop, and one from the waterfront as that is also one of Buffalo's signature looks. The first two photos shared here are the weird look the prints have after exposure to UV but before development and washing in water. The image is already formed and visible but still obstructed.

Edward M Cotter's Solo Show Cyanotype, Exposed and unwashed lookEdward M Cotter's Solo Show CyanotypeExposed and unwashed look

Edward M Cotter's Solo Show Cyanotype
Exposed and unwashed look

And then the magic comes. As soon as the prints are submerged in water changes start to happen and in just 2 - 3 minutes the prints look great. I leave them in the wash for about 5 minutes total but I have seen recommendations anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes. Since I use a darkroom print washer tray that constantly replaces the water in the tray and keeps it flowing I am staying on the short wash side.

Buffalo, NY Cyanotype, Exposed and washedBuffalo, NY CyanotypeExposed and washed

Buffalo, NY Cyanotype
Exposed and washed

Edward M Cotter's Solo Show Cyanotype, Exposed and washed / developed in waterEdward M Cotter's Solo Show CyanotypeExposed and washed / developed in water

Edward M Cotter's Solo Show Cyanotype
Exposed and washed / developed in water

Once the initial wash and development is done, I've tried two different directions so far. The prints can come out of the water and dry, or they can go through another bath with a splash of vinegar, or citric acid. The acidity helps with a more thorough wash  and clearing of the highlights but I have also noticed that some of the very subtle mid-tones can also wash away. I guess one has to be really careful about the about of vinegar and the wash time in this acidic bath need to be quick, 30 seconds or so at the most. I can imagine though that with additional experience this will be a more predictable step. Then back to the plain water bath for the final wash.

Buffalo, NY Cyanotype, Exposed, developed in water, cleared in diluted white vinegar, re-washed, and driedBuffalo, NY CyanotypeExposed, developed in water, cleared in diluted white vinegar, re-washed, and dried

Buffalo, NY Cyanotype
Exposed, developed in water, cleared in diluted white vinegar, re-washed, and dried

As you can see, when the prints dry they darken and take on a full scale of tones. Do you see some of the "blotches" in the dark areas? That is the actual texture of the paper showing through. Of course I could not have selected a normal water color paper even this time around. Instead, this was printed on a 100% recycled Shizen Design watercolor paper.

Edward M Cotter's Solo Show Cyanotype, Exposed, developed in water, cleared in diluted white vinegar, re-washed, and driedEdward M Cotter's Solo Show CyanotypeExposed, developed in water, cleared in diluted white vinegar, re-washed, and dried
Edward M Cotter's Solo Show Cyanotype
Exposed, developed in water, cleared in diluted white vinegar, re-washed, and dried

Yes, that can probably be another rabbit hole to experiment with all kinds of paper types. I will definitely stay with heavyweight cotton rag for now (300+gsm, 140lb) as I have not run into any problems even with washes extending over 15 minutes. I have had no tearing during washing or drying and the paper easily dried flat.

I also wanted to get another print of the Old House from the first printing session but on this paper instead of the inkjet coated one. Even thought this print actually worked very well even on the inkjet paper (probably because I used it quickly after coating and coated the paper lightly) I still wanted to see the difference.

Old House Cyanotype, Exposed, developed in water, cleared in diluted white vinegar, re-washed, and driedOld House CyanotypeExposed, developed in water, cleared in diluted white vinegar, re-washed, and dried

Old House Cyanotype
Exposed, developed in water, cleared in diluted white vinegar, re-washed, and dried

And putting them side by side the difference is quite noticeable. However, my scanner got in the way in this regard and even with zero post-processing the difference almost disappeared as the auto-settings increased contrast, clipped highlights, and adjusted the white balance. I was surprised how the two pictures ended up almost identical despite being in a single image. Anyway, to illustrate the difference I took a quick snap of the two side by side with my cell phone.

Old House Cyanotype, Watercolor paper comparison, inkjet vs regular paper, face.Old House CyanotypeWatercolor paper comparison, inkjet vs regular paper, face. Old House Cyanotype, Watercolor paper comparison, inkjet vs regular paper, reverse.Old House CyanotypeWatercolor paper comparison, inkjet vs regular paper, reverse.

Old House Cyanotype
Watercolor paper comparison, inkjet vs regular paper, face

I know I stated it above but I will repeat it here. Do not use coated (inkjet) papers for your cyanotypes. Use regular uncoated watercolor paper. A heavy-weight 100% cotton rag is what I would recommend at this early stage of my experience.

All of the prints above were from film originals. However, I've recently returned from a trip and did not have a chance to process all of my film. Yet, I was curious how some of the sights would look in blue. Thus, I printed a 5x7" negative from one of the photos I took with my phone. You can see the outcome below.

Charles Bridge Cyanotype, Exposed, developed in water, cleared in diluted white vinegar, re-washed, and driedCharles Bridge CyanotypeExposed, developed in water, cleared in diluted white vinegar, re-washed, and dried
Charles Bridge Cyanotype
Exposed, developed in water, cleared in diluted white vinegar, re-washed, and dried

And with that travel post, I will close today out. I realize this was a long post and if you made it all the way here, thanks for reading and until next time!

Enjoy The Beauty That Surrounds You! #etbtsy

Do you enjoy reading my photography blog? Would you like to see more traditional wet prints? Visit my Darkroom photo gallery and enjoy! Do not hesitate to contact me whether you would like to learn more or would like to purchase one of my prints.

Using my links to do your shopping keeps me sharing more photographs and writing the stories behind them (commission earned) and costs you nothing. You can also use the Amazon search box in bottom left for anything at all. I truly appreciate each purchase, no matter how large, no matter how small. Thank you!

Historic Chautauqua Belle Steam Ship, hand-made traditional silver gelatin darkroom printChautauqua BelleA Darkroom Print Road Trip 2018 Darkroom Print: The Livery, Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Park, New Mexico; hand-made traditional silver gelatin darkroom printRoad Trip 2018: The LiveryA Darkroom Print Road Trip 2018 Darkroom Print: Van Patten's Mountain Camp, Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Park, New Mexico; hand-made traditional silver gelatin darkroom printRoad Trip 2018: Van Patten's Mountain CampA Darkroom Print


First Cyanotype

August 11, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Yes, today is going to be about another analog photo printing process. In the past, I shared traditional darkroom prints with you, as well as lith prints. Both of those techniques required a darkroom. The technique I am sharing today does not and thus may be more accessible to many of you.

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What am I talking about? I am talking about the Cyanotype Process invented in 1841 by Sir John Herschel. If you're interested in more history, either an Internet search or your local library will provide plenty of resources. The same holds true for details about the chemistry used for this process.

The Cyanotype process allows you to contact print a negative onto a sensitized material using UV light. You can simply rely on sunshine or buy a UV lamp. Since the process relies on UV light and not regular daylight the clear advantage of this printing method over other darkroom techniques is that it does not require darkness to be carried out.

Old House Cyanotype - Exposure in ProgressOld House CyanotypeExposure in Progress First, some material needs to be coated with the sensitizer. You can either mix your own concoction or rely on a ready-made KIT like the Liquid Cyanotype KIT by Photographers' Formularly I used. To keep things simple, I started with a heavy watercolor paper for my material but already look forward to trying fabric, wood, and other materials. I used a cheap paintbrush to coat 5x7 pieces of the paper. It turned out I used about 1ml of sensitizer per 5x7 sheet but that depends on your paper and on the desired results. I could see myself using a little less in the future.

The material then has to completely dry. If it remains wet it would start developing immediately upon exposure to sun instead of being fully exposed first. That drying period gives you a chance to get your negatives ready. If you are a large format photographer, your 4x5, 5x7, or even larger negatives might serve the purpose. If you shoot smaller film or digital, you can use an inkjet printer to print your negatives at the desired size. I used my HP Envy 5055 to print on Inkpress Media Transparency Film (8.5 x 11"). I printed 2 5x7 images on a single letter-sized sheet that I later cut in half.

How did I prepare my negatives? I used GIMP to slightly increase the contrast of my previously processed photo. I clipped both highlights and shadows very slightly (by about 5 points) and then added a gentle S-curve for an overall contrast increase. Did I have to do this? I am not sure, only more experience will tell. I remembered people talking about higher contrast negatives being better for Cyanotypes and that is what I did to get started. Based on my results, I will definitely be trying a straight file next time as there seems to be plenty of natural contrast. The other thing I did was I flipped the image horizontally. Since the exposure is done with the face of the film down, things will get reverted back and print the right way.

Enough talking, let's see what happened! For my first print, I used the last paper coated where I ran out of the sensitizer. Thus, this was the least coated paper of all. I wanted to see how the length of exposure mattered and I exposed the whole frame for 8 minutes in direct sunshine, then covered 1/3 and exposed for 2 more minutes, then covered 2/3s and added 2 more minutes. When the 12 minutes were over I took the picture frame, in which I sandwiched the negative and the sensitized paper, to the basement to be washed. When I removed the paper from the frame, it looked like the below.

Old House Cyanotype - ExposedOld House CyanotypeExposed

Old House Cyanotype
Exposed

As soon as I started pouring water over it in the sink the look started changing. I washed the print for about 5 minutes at which point no more changes seemed to be happening. At this point, I was pretty happy with my first result.

Old House Cyanotype - Washed in WaterOld House CyanotypeWashed in Water

Old House Cyanotype
Washed in Plain Water

However, this was not the only print I made that day and all of the ones afterwards had a heavier sensitizer coat. They all also had a yellowish tone in the highlights after washing. After some digging it seemed like alkaline water may not be able to fully wash the sensitizer off. Either vinegar or citric acid was recommended in various places. Since I had a bottle of white vinegar right next to the sink I added a splash into my tray and rewashed the photo.

Old House Cyanotype - Washed in VinegarOld House CyanotypeWashed in Vinegar

Old House Cyanotype
Re-Washed in Water with White Vinegar

The effect? Immediate and rather noticeable. The highlights cleared up very nicely and the tones changed towards more bluish from the previously greenish tones. I realize that what you are looking at is a scanned version of my results. I placed the actual print next to my monitor and tried to make the scan look as close as possible to the print by slightly tweaking the white balance and contrast. And that was it, I was ready to call this one a finished product.

If you remember from above this was an exposure test with an 8, 10, and 12-minute exposure. Can you see the vertical stripes on the print? Neither can I. I attribute that to the extremely light sensitizer coating on this sheet. How would things look with a heavier coat?

Old House Cyanotype - Heavier Sensitizer CoatOld House CyanotypeHeavier Sensitizer Coat

Old House Cyanotype
Heavier Sensitizer Coat

As you can see, a lot of details got completely lost in the first version as there was either very little or even no sensitizer at all in some areas. Which version do you prefer? I like that the first version looks almost like a pencil drawing, which I am a big fan of. However, I don't like that the wall in front of the house is completely missing. I am sure I will further experiment with very light coats but I will need to make sure I don't plain run out and leave parts of the paper blank.

A warning? Try at your own risk. I have to admit that this is addictive and I have already printed two more prints and have even more coated paper ready to go. I also want to try other materials. I really like the simplicity. Pre-coat some paper a day ahead and let dry (at this point, I don't know how long one can keep pre-coated paper). Print out a negative or several at the desired sizes. Next day, about 10 minutes in the sun and a 5-minute wash and you have yourself a cyanotype.

Enjoy The Beauty That Surrounds You! #etbtsy

PS: Loosely continued at More Cyanotypes.

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