Saturday, 24 September 2011

Photo Prints by Sunlight (cyanotypes)

These are prints that are made using the sun & chemicals to develop the image.  It's a method that works well for prints where the lines of the image, rather than the tones, are important. It's fun to do and you can get quite creative with it.   You can use a photo negative as I have here or you can use objects such leaves, flowers or paper cut-outs to create shapes.

This photo was taken in the cafe in West Runton, Norfolk where we sometimes go - they do a great toasted cheese & onion sandwich! They used to serve the tea in old-fashioned china tea cups which I particularly liked.  The original photo was taken some time ago as they now serve the tea in mugs. If you've never been to West Runton, it's great for cliffs, rock pools, breakwaters and walks on the beach (oh, and of course, the cheese and onion toasted sandwiches!) Anyway, I digress!

The method to produce a print like this is as follows:
  • scan the photo into the computer and enlarge it up to the size of the print that you want
  • invert the image to make a negative print 
  • make an inkjet print onto transparency film
  • brush some watercolour paper with the chemicals.  In my example above, I deliberately brushed the chemicals on, leaving brushstrokes in the style of watercolour painting to match the style of paper used
  • lay the transparency negative on top and clip together so that the negative can't move
  • expose to bright sunlight for between 10 and 20 minutes. The length of time that you expose the paper to the sun for will determine how dark the print is.
  • rinse under clean water
  • dry away from the sun

And yes, one of those books really is that price! It's a rare one.

I mounted my print on to foam board and kept the perforated ends to keep the effect of watercolour.  The chemicals required to produce these types of prints can be purchased from specialist photographic materials suppliers, details can be found online. 

Here are another two of my photos that I did the same treatment on.  These are of a beautiful cafe in Bilbao, called the Cafe Boulevard.


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