Alternative printing process…

As my confidence and experience in photography grows, I’ve started to take an interest in alternative printing processes. In this case Cyanotypes.

The cyanotype was discovered in 1842 by Sir John Hershel and is the second oldest photographic negative process after Fox Talbot’s Calotype from 1841. In 1843 Anna Atkins used Cyanotypes to illustrate Her book Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype impressions which is commonly claimed to be the first photographically illustrated book.

A Cyanotype is produced when paper, wood, fabric, china and glass coated with a mixture of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate is exposed to UV light, either Sunlight or another UV source such as a bulb or LED display. (This second source gives a more consistent quality and can be used when strong sunlight lacking as often is the case here in the UK.

The simplest Cyanotype is the Photogram where items such as leaves, flowers or in Anna Atkins case algae is placed directly onto the coated surface. Now days with digital photography, you can print digital negatives onto acetate sheets and by placing it onto the coated surface like with the Photogram can produce images like the one I made below.

In the future I would like to try other printing processes like salt printing and albumen printing, but until then I’m happy enough producing blue images…in more ways than one.

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