Thursday, February 12, 2009

Recovering Lost Data!

The image here is an example of what I was mucking about with when I was swept away by the AOA wave. It is a coffee-toned cyanotype made from a PhotoShop-created negative that was printed on a transparency. This particular print is on Arches paper.

This is a detail from that image:
There is a lot of info on the web about this process, generally referred to as alt-process photography. I first fell over it when I was reading Photography: A Cultural History by Mary Warner Marien early last spring. As I read on through the early history of photography I got more and more excited and then I came to the section on cyanotypes and thought, "I can do this!" I got the two chemicals, mixed them up and slapped an old 2-1/4" x 2-1/4" negative onto a piece of paper and sandwiched the pair between a piece of glass and a piece of wood with clamps. Of course, being spring in Vermont it was a day of mostly clouds and a fitful sun. But I ran around in the yard, my sandwich held out before me, catching the elusive rays.
And, sure enough, I got a small blue image. (With a UV light set-up you can expose inside, and at night, and when it's raining!)

And here may be the best part in these environmentally-conscious days: NO nasty chemicals go down the drain. Also convenient: you don't need a darkroom.

The two chemicals are massively diluted with water, and they are Ferric Ammonium Citrate and Potassium Ferricyanide. Their solutions are kept separate until use and then mixed in a small flat, hake-brush-wide container. Paint the solution on the paper and let it dry. After exposure, develop the print IN TAP WATER!!!!!

Well, now I've dug out my alt-process journal and am trying to recover all that I knew before setting it aside for AOA. More later on this stuff.

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