Cyanotypes XII: Prague Castle

December 19, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Nikon FE, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 Pancake, Black and WhiteNikon FEBlack and White In today's twelfth edition of Cyanotypes we are moving from the countryside to the city. And not just any city but the best city in the world! We're going to hop on the Metro and let the A line take us to the Malostranská station, walk a few steps up Klárov street and turn up the stairs to the Prague Castle. And again, it's not just any stairs but Staré zámecké schody (Old Castle Stairs).

The stairs date back to the 17th century and provide a quick connection between public transportation and the castle. They take us to the castle's east gate, which serves as a back entrance to the castle complex. It's a completely different arrival experience compared to the guarded main gate followed by several courtyards. Through here, one enters what appears to be a small village with narrow streets that eventually take us to the majestic St. Vitus Cathedral (the full current name is Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert) at the 3rd Courtyard.

Old Castle Stairs, Shizen Watercolor Cyanotype, Prague Castle, Czech RepublicOld Castle StairsShizen Watercolor Cyanotype

Old Castle Stairs, Prague Castle, Czech Republic, An Original Hand-Made 5" x 7" Cyanotype
Chemically Printed on a Hand-Coated Textured Shizen Design Watercolor Paper

Tools of the trade? It all started with my trusty Nikon FE loaded with my favorite Fomapan 400 black and white film. What other film could one possibly document the Czech Republic with? Later, I home developed the film in a replenished D-23 developer, which grew on me tightly over the last two years that I have not used any other developer.

Then I interrupted the analog path with a digital interlude, scanning the 35mm film and printing a 5" x 7" negative on an inkjet printer in order to be able to make the cyanotype contact print. And that is where I finished the photo's journey with a final analog touch, hand-coating the watercolor paper with the cyanotype emulsion, exposing the contact print with a UV lamp, developing in water, letting dry on a line, and pressing under a stack of books.
Old Castle Stairs, Wine Tannin Toned Cyanotype, Prague Castle, Czech RepublicOld Castle StairsWine Tannin Toned Cyanotype

Old Castle Stairs, Prague Castle, Czech Republic, An Original Hand-Made 5" x 7" Cyanotype
Chemically Printed on a Hand-Coated Textured Shizen Design Watercolor Paper, Toned in Wine Tannin

I also wanted an additional variety of these photos from Prague. Therefore, I made a few extras that I bleached and toned with wine tannin, one of the many options available for print toning. It tones the print similarly to black tea but stains the paper itself less. However, the paper itself playes a significant role too. The Shizen Design Watercolor Paper I like to use is especially good at this property and highlights do not stain much. It's a personal choice for sure though. The paper has a very rough texture and is made from fully recycled materials that hold on to the emulsion to a varying degree. I really like the rough look I get though. The only time I deviate is when I want some more subtle prints with a lot of detail. This paper definitely does not render detail well.

St. Vitus Door, Shizen Watercolor Cyanotype, Prague Castle, Czech RepublicSt. Vitus DoorShizen Watercolor Cyanotype

St. Vitus Door, Prague Castle, Czech Republic, An Original Hand-Made 5" x 7" Cyanotype
Chemically Printed on a Hand-Coated Textured Shizen Design Watercolor Paper

From the Old Castle Stairs and through the east gate we made our way all the way to the 3rd courtyard and the spectacular St. Vitus Cathedral, which was founded in 1344 and was only completed in 1929. Indeed, it took almost 600 years to finish. Talking about history, Prague Castle itself probably dates back to the year 880. From the 10th century the castle was the seat of the head of state and the church, the Prague bishop.

St. Vitus Door, Wine Tannin Toned CyanotypeSt. Vitus DoorWine Tannin Toned Cyanotype

St. Vitus Door, Prague Castle, Czech Republic, An Original Hand-Made 5" x 7" Cyanotype
Chemically Printed on a Hand-Coated Textured Shizen Design Watercolor Paper, Toned in Wine Tannin

Exiting the castle through the main west gate one can descend either via the Ke Hradu and then Nerudova streets or via Zámecké schody (Castle Stairs), also called Nové zámecké schody (New Castle Stairs). The interesting thing is that these new stairs are older than the old ones. A steep dirt road in their place is documented back in the 13th century. Steps were mentioned as early as the 14th century and their current form is from the 17th century.

Enjoy The Beauty That Surrounds You! #etbtsy

Previous posts in the Cyanotypes series: 1. First Cyanotype - 2. More Cyanotypes - 3. Highlands Cyanotypes - 4. How do Cyanotypes Happen? - 5. Cyanotypes V: Tweaking the Curve - 6. Cyanotypes VI: Toning - 7. Cyanotypes VII: More Toning - 8. Cyanotypes VIII: Toning Different Papers - 9. Cyanotypes IX: Horní Rozsíčky - 10. Cyanotypes X: From Black and White or Color - 11. Cyanotypes XI: Moravian Countryside - 12. Cyanotypes XII: Prague Castle

If you like cyanotypes, you can explore the Cyanotypes Photo Gallery dedicated to my growing collection of them. Would you like to browse through traditional darkroom wet prints? Visit my Darkroom Photo Gallery and enjoy!

Karlštejn Castle Tower and Walls Cyanotype, an original hand-made 5" x 7" cyanotype print from the Czech RepublicKarlštejn Castle Tower and WallsCyanotype Karlštejn Castle Tower and Walls, Tea Toned Cyanotype, an original hand-made 5" x 7" cyanotype print from the Czech Republic..Karlštejn Castle Tower and WallsTea Toned Cyanotype Helfštýn Castle Palace Cyanotype, an original hand-made 5" x 7" cyanotype print from the Czech Republic.Helfštýn Castle PalaceCyanotype


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