I have saved the best camera-less photography technique called Cyanotypes for the end. The technique was also known as blue prints. It is also probably the most popular camera-less technique favoured and used by many. Sir John Herschel in 1842 was the first person to introduce this technique. It is mainly used for creating art. In the past the technique was also used for scientific purposes.
How it’s made
The cyanotype is made up of two chemicals, potassium ferricyanide (A) and Ferric ammonium citrate(B). They are first mixed with water separately and then mixed together in equal parts. 25grams of solution A is mixed with 100ml water, and 10 grams of solution B is mixed with 100ml water.
Watercolour paper is preferably used for this technique as it has to withstand water. One can also use textiles or objects depending on their absorption properties. The material is then coated with the cyanotype and left to dry in the dark.
When printing one can be as creative as possible using different objects and negatives. Like lumen prints, a composition is planned beforehand. This is done because as soon as the paper is exposed to the sun the cyanotype starts to react. One can also use a UV light box as it needs UV to react. The paper is exposed for a number of minutes depending on the strength of the sun. I usually leave mine out for 15 -20 mins. The longer they stay out the larger the contrast between the blue and the white like print.
The paper is then rinsed in water. There is no specific amount of rinsing time. I rinse it until the white print becomes prominent and when I’m satisfied with the contrast.
If more contrast is needed one can wash it in a bath of hydrogen peroxide to get a darker blue. 10ml hydrogen peroxide to 90ml of water.
The prints are then left to dry.
Artist who practice this technique are Walead Beshty, Tasha Lewis, Pauline Burbidge, Sabine Jeanne Bieli and Natalia Skobeeva.
Next week I will be showing a few of my cyanotypes explaining what I did and what I feel needs to improve.