Wet Plate Emporium. The Photographic Method of Cyanotype Printing on Glass.
1 Wet Plate Emporium The Photographic Method of Cyanotype Printing on Glass Joseph J. McAllister Author Notes: Origina...
Wet Plate Emporium The Photographic Method of Cyanotype Printing on Glass
Joseph J. McAllister www.wetplateemporium.com www.facebook.com/joseph.j.mcallister
Author Notes: Original process by Joseph J. McAllister 2012. If you want to post my process to a website, please contact me, list my name and links. You can post it in forums or groups or share it at will. Thanks.
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HOW TO TUTORIALS How to Make Glass Cyanotypes [pdf] How to Make Glass Van Dyke Brown Prints [pdf] Electrolytic Etching of Brass [pdf] How to Make Ground Glass View Plates [pdf] Bellows Replacement [pdf]
VIDEOS Glass Cyanotype Process [Youtube] Glass Cyanotype Test 1: Ferric Ferrocyanide (Prussian Blue) + Potassium Cyanide [Youtube] Van Dyke Brown Microforms (Microphotographs) Wet Plate Emporium Portfolio Book [Youtube]
HAZARDS OF WORKING WITH CHEMICALS Before working with photographic chemicals always look up the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for each chemical, and be aware that dangerous chemical reactions that are not listed can occur when mixing chemicals together. Chemicals used in photography can cause blindness, be carcinogenic, release poisonous gases, cause acid burns, and absorption heavy metals through the skin. Keep these chemicals out of reach of children and animals. Make sure emulsions are not mistaken for JELL-O® Gelatin. Most of the chemicals used for photography are dangerous if handled improperly. CYANIDE GAS Never dip cyanotype plates in potassium cyanide fixer or silver nitrate solution. This will remove all the blue from the gel instantly. This reaction releases cyanide gas from the ferric ferrocyanide (Persian blue) on the plate and from the potassium cyanide fixer as well.
MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEETS (MSDS) Green Ferric Ammonium Citrate Potassium Ferricyanide Oxalic Acid Ferric Ferrocyanide: Prussian Blue “Cyanotype Solution” Formaldehyde (Optional)
BEFORE YOU BEGIN… COMMON MISTAKES Alternative processes are not something you do once, and instantly master. They are extremely hard to learn, and often take years to become proficient. If you have never done alt process photography before, imagine it like this… Would you expect to pick up a violin for the first time, & walk into the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra & fill in for a concert musician who is out sick? Or possibly pick up a paint brush & canvas at the store, & expect to paint a copy of Leonardo da Vinci‘s Mona Lisa? We’ll I wish it was that easy, but the truth is it takes practice. As processes go, this one is actually on the easy side, where wet plate collodion & daguerreotypes can take years to master. Now that your expectations are closer to realistic, your first 2-3 sets will probably be complete disappointments, of long 8 hour nights in the print shop. For example, it took me 3 months to create the process & formula ratios; and believe me, it was a lot of long bitter nights filled with upsetting results.
GROUP PROJECTS It is not a good idea to start this off as a class project… As a teacher, you will need to spend a few weeks mastering the process & learning from your mistakes before you set out to do this with a group. The last thing you want is to have 20 people wondering why all the plates came out blank. Again, you wouldn’t teach people to play golf, if you have never played.
PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS The image washing away in the first water bath is the most common problem with this process. What you should be doing is making 4-6 plates per session. Start exposing them, & then pull 1 apart when you think it's done, and see how it looks. Then try dipping it in the first water bath, and see how it comes out. If the image washes out, you still have another 5 to try. At first getting 2 out of 6 images to work is good, but with experience, maybe 4 of 6. There will always be a few bad images, that’s why you test them one at a time. Next, the ice cold water... The water has to be cold, or the image will melt off. Even room temp is too hot. Put water in a pitcher with ice, stir it thoroughly, and then dump the water into the tray just before you dip the plate. It only takes 1-2 minutes for the water to warm back up to room temp, so use immediately; with a fresh batch for ever plate. Touch the top edge of the plate into a 1 inch water bath, slowly lower the plate into the bath, then immediately (don’t allow the plate to rest in the water, start pulling it back out right now), but slowly raise it to a very slight angle until the water has moved off the plate, then bring it up vertical,
let drip a few seconds, then fan dry vertically. The water should not move on or off the plate any faster then an ant walks at a normal speed during the first water bath procedure. The plate won't be fully fixed at this time, but dry it anyways. Further fixing occurs during the tap water bath & the sunning steps, to finish getting the green unexposed layer out. The first water bath is only to harden the emulsion. Also, the older the emulsion, the better it works. A 3 or even 6 month emulsion is stronger, and less problematic. Another problem comes from underexposure. Having an image on the plate doesn't mean its finished exposing. The exposed emulsion will start out green, and appear clear in red light. During exposure, the emulsion will phase (blue, gray & green) repeatedly. Each time it phases, a deeper layer of emulsion is exposed. Let this process continue for 20-60 minutes (depending on light source), until the exposed areas appear as dark as the negative. The plate should be a uniform gray from end to end. At this point the exposed areas are strong enough to resist the water bath. One last consideration is the light source. The heat from the light is part of the exposure process. On hot days, the sun can expose the plate in 5 minutes. On a cool day it can't finish the job at all. Florescence and UV lights have been used by others, but they generate almost no heat. I mainly use 500 watt tungsten Fresnel lighting. At 5 feet a Fresnel light will heat up the plate. Too much heat will blister the emulsion, while a little heat helps strengthen it. I touch the plate every time I check it to see how hot it is. If it’s too hot, widen the light beam, or back up the light so the plate is getting less heat. The plate should feel warm, but not hot during exposure.
POURING TECHNIQUE The pouring technique is the same as wet plate collodion. Hold the plate from underneath with your left hand, and then pour the hot emulsion into the center of the plate with the ladle in your right hand, covering 80% of the center of the plate. Sit the ladle down. Then tip the plate to one side, then to the next 3 sides, sending the emulsion from corner to corner in a clockwise fashion. The last corner covered should be the corner that you are comfortable pouring the emulsion off from. Thick emulsion is another problem. This problem is characterized by the emulsion spontaneously pealing off the plate after its dry, with a disturbing sound similar to Styrofoam being twisted up. The emulsion has to be good and hot when it is poured on. I know when it’s ready when it starts to steam, but don’t allow it to boil, which causes thick chunks & crystallization. After coating, pour off the excess, then stand the plate vertically with 1 corner touching a paper towel to wick away the build up of excess emulsion on the edge of the plate (edge berm). Now fan dry the plates vertically. The emulsion should be so thin that the plates appear clear, with the emulsion thickness of a human hair. (For further information, please browse the Printing Defects section at the end of this tutorial.)
PAPER CYANOTYPE PROCESS PROCESS 1) Mixing [Safe light] Bostick pre-mix A & B 50/ 50 2) Coating Use sponge brush 3) Drying Use fan In dark room Until the paper is slightly damp to the touch, but not visible unevenly damp 4) Exposure Expose immediately Yellow – Dark Blue – Light Gray: Finished 5) Washing Wash quickly in tub of lukewarm, 2 trays Only until yellow water & paper become clear Color fades out fast 6) Drying Lay print on paper towels Blot dry with paper towel on top Air dry only Print will turn dark blue after drying for 24 hours
Notes: Filter the cyanotype solution before using to get any un-dissolved crystals out.
COFFEE TONING PROCESS 4 tbsp / 4 cups water Black & sepia
COFFEE TONING PROCESS 1) Toning Place print in toning bath Remove when desired tone is achieved 2) Drying Lay print on paper towels Blot dry with paper towel on top Air dry only Print will further darken after drying for 24 hours
Cyanotype toned using only coffee (Joseph J. McAllister 2012).
Gallic Acid Borax Hydrogen Peroxide
TONING TESTS 25 ml / water 500 ml Light Blue 25 g / water 500 ml Dark Purple straight Nothing
Gloves/ Respirator Safe/ Leaves chalky grit
Do not mix these baths together. You only need one bath per print to get the result of each bath. I don’t recommend using any of these processes. They are listed as formulas & tests that provided useless results.
MCALLISTER’S GLASS CYANOTYPE PROCESS (You can use any base formula to make the cyanotype. The formulas below have been tested.) USING BOSTICK & SULLIVAN’S LIQUID CYANOTYPE PREMIX (500 ML) Solution A: 250 ml Solution B: 250 ml Gelatin 65.625 g
USING DICK SULLIVAN’S CYANOTYPE FORMULA (Without Ammonium dichromate) Total Volume 200 ml 400 ml 600 ml Green ferric ammonium citrate 27.2 g 54.4 g 81.6 g Potassium ferricyanide 9.2 g 18.4 g 27.6 g Oxalic acid 1g 2g 3g Water 200 ml 400 ml 600 ml Gelatin 26.25 g 52.5 g 78.75 g
PROCESS 1) Mixing [Safe light] Pour water into a stainless steel sauce pan Add cyanotype chemicals one at a time, stirring to dissolve (Filter emulsion to get any un-dissolved crystals out) (Tilt the pan to check that the emulsion is free of un-dissolved crystals) Slowly stir in gelatin (Dissolve cold: Cakes in hot water) Slowly heat to 1200 F (480 C) stirring constantly (Remove from heat as soon as it reaches 1200 F or crystal formation will start & gel will burn on the sides of the pan) (Continue stirring the emulsion and tilting the pan until the gel coating the bottom of the pan is free of small gelatin specs) Let cool in fridge in light tight container 2) Coating Heat slowly in electric mini crock pot (If the gel boils it’s ruined. Turn off after coating plates) (Do not use a fast heating device. It will ruin the emulsion) Fill ladle with emulsion (Use a stainless steel spoon to skim bubbles off surface before pouring) Ladle emulsion onto center of plate (Hold the plate waiter style with one hand & pour with the other) (Try to cover 80% of the plate with emulsion in the center) Tip plate to each corner allowing the gel to move slowly and not drip over the sides
(Use two fingers to smear gel if spots are missed as you tip to each corner) Pour excess back into emulsion until stream turns to drips (Keep plate vertical: Do not allow gel to run back onto the plate The coating is only as thick as what is left on the plate after pouring off & what drains off as it dries vertically. Do not level until the plate is ready to expose! The coating will seem so thin that it will look as if the plate is clean with no gel at all. That is actually the correct amount. Thick gel will expose slowly, and blister off the plate when drying.) Place drip edge on paper towel and allow it to soak up the brim (Keep moving it to a new spot on the paper towel. When it starts to slow down it is ready for drying) Use a paper towel to wipe off any emulsion that may have spilled onto the back 3) Drying I Fan dry until dry to the touch (25 min) Flip the plate & fan dry (10 min) (This step is to allow the gel berm at the button to dry) (The plate is done drying when the berm on the edge is dry enough that it won’t stick to the paper during printing). (Do not over dry. The plate should have a clear dry film, not chalky or crystallized) Inspect gel for crystals, bubbles and uneven coating (If the coating is bad, the plate is not worth printing) (Use a razor blade to scrape off any over spill on the back, especially around the berm. Then use half of a damp paper towel to clean the over spill & the dry half of the towel to dry it) 4) Exposure Print until solarized (Expose until the contrast of the blue gel and the black of the print are equal, or until the emulsion stops reacting to light. The emulsion should be smooth and free of “gelatin stops”. See printing defects.) 5) Wash I Fill a developing tray with cold tap water. Ice may be used to cool the water a bit colder then tap water, if you’re having weak gel issues. Lower the top of the plate into the water at a 45o angle, so it touches the bottom of the tray. Now, lower the rest of the plate into the bath, letting the water slowly cover the plate until it is horizontal in the tray. Wait 10 seconds. You should see the see the highlights lighten, and the shadows turn dark, but remove it if you see the highlights loosing detail. Slowly raise the plate up at a 45o angle, and raise the plate out of the bath. Let the water pour off the plate at this angle until the water running off the plate slows from a stream to drips. Now raise the plate up vertically and allow the last few drops of water to leave the
plate. (The first wash is only used to harden the gel. Do not expect to remove all the green at this point.) 6) Drying II Fan dry vertically 7) Wash II (Desensitizing) [White light] Soak the plate in a tray of water and agitate it 30 sec Wash with cold water under a faucet 30 sec (The gel should be very strong at this point) (Use the faucet’s stream to work out a bit of the green & purple tint) Place the wet plate in a white developing tray, and allow direct sunlight to shine on the plate (The white tray acts as a reflector) (The sun light will clear the purple and green in 1-2 minutes) In room light, soak the plate in distilled water and agitate the tray 30 sec (This removes hard water spots from the final plate) (The contrast of the plate will increase slightly, when it starts to lighten, remove it from the water) 8) Drying III (Final drying) Fan dry vertical 9) Cleaning When the plate is dry, place the emulsion side down on a dry towel and clean the glass side with a small towel soaked with Windex glass cleaner. 10) Framing Frame glass side out, backed with white paper. Pack the frame so the paper is pressed tightly against the glass or the image will appear blurred.
Notes: Heating the emulsion above melting temperature causes the cyanotype to form large crystals to form in the emulsion (See printing defects: snowflake crystallization). Oxalic acid (ox-āl-ic), hydrogen peroxide baths seem to have no effect on removing the purple tone from the plates Tartaric acid (tar-taric) can be substituted for Oxalic acid in a cyanotype recipe
Glass cyanotype (Joseph J. McAllister 2012).
Annie Oakley (August 13, 1860 – November 3, 1926), born Phoebe Ann Moses, American sharpshooter at Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. 8x10 Glass Cyanotype (Joseph J. McAllister 2013).
BASE FORMULAS You can use any cyanotype formula. (These are listed for a quick reference). Dick Sullivan’s Cyanotype Formula Green ferric ammonium citrate 27.2 grams E. Valenta’s Sensitizer (speed) Potassium ferricyanide 9.2 grams Herschel’s Original formula Oxalic acid 1 grams Oxalic or tartaric acid (speed & range) Ammonium dichromate 0.2 grams Robert Hunt (speed/ shelf life, stops blue (Optional) formation) Water 200 ml.
Sir John Frederick William Herschel Cyanotype Formula Green ferric ammonium citrate 20 grams 40 grams Potassium ferricyanide 16 grams 32 grams Water 200 ml 400 ml
50 grams 40 grams 500 ml
Notes: 21F7 Prussian blue (Berlin, Milori or Paris blue). Cyanotypes are composed of the substance Prussian blue (ferric ferrocyanide), which was originally an artists pigment.
The dark room. Here I am using a digital gram scale for weighting dry chemicals. The mixture is cooked on an electric hot plate in a stainless steel pan. Stainless steel pans are important if you are using silver nitrate emulsions which can react with other metals.
Mini crock pot and stainless steel ladle. This crock pot only holds 1 cup of water. It is important to use a small crock pot so the gelatin doesn’t heat up too fast or start boiling. Scoop out just enough gel to cover six 8x10” plates, and then place the lid back on the pot. It will take 10 minutes for the gel to melt. Once all the gel is liquid, pour the plates, then pour the remaining emulsion back into the storage tub.
Gelled cyanotype emulsion. This is what the emulsion look like at room temperature. It is a strong gelatin similar to dry plate emulsion invented by Dr. Richard L. Maddox in 1871. Store the gelatin emulsion in a plastic sour cream tub. Take a small box and cover the bottom corners and folds with electrical tape to block out light. Place a small square of black plastic tarp in the bottom to light. Then add the sour cream tub to the box. Place another square of black tarp over that, and seal the box with some 3m clear duct tape. Now store the box in a refrigerator. The emulsion can be stored for a year or more. Only expose the emulsion to red safe light.
Contact printing in 11x14 frame using paper vignette.
Alternate vignette technique.
GELATIN Knox original gelatin unflavored (32 oz). Food Grade. Wal-Mart $8.99.
GELATIN HARDENERS ADDING MORE GELATIN One way to increase the gel strength is to put some powdered gel into a cup and add a little cold water to turn it into a thick lumpy gel. Heat up the emulsion in a crock pot and put the new gel on top. The new gel will liquefy along with the emulsion. GELATIN RATIO Getting the right gelatin ratio is not as simple as it sounds. The difference between a gel that is too strong or too weak is very slim. If the gel is too strong, it goes on too thick and blisters off the plate during exposure or after drying. If the gel is too weak, you end up with gel spots and the image washes off the plate in the first bath. FORMALDEHYDE Formaldehyde CH2O or HCHO. A saturated water solution of formaldehyde, that contains 40% formaldehyde by volume or 37% by mass, is called "100% formalin". A few drops of formalin can be used as a gelatin hardener in emulsions or as a bath. (I have not tried this method, so you should do research about its use as a gelatin hardener with dry plate photography before trying).
TYPES Glass Cyanotype Cyanotype Orotype Coffee Toned Cyanotype Orotype Coffee Toned Glass Cyanotype Cyanotype Lantern Slide Brass Cyanotype
Blue Blue & Gold Black & Gold Sepia, Black or Black, Brown, Green & Blue Blue, Gray or Black Blue & Gold
EXPOSURE (Layers from front to back in contact printing frame) 1 - Glass front 2 - Black paper vignette 3 - 8x10 Sheet Film (Emulsion side up or it may be ruined by gel over pour) 4 - Dry plate cyanotype (Emulsion face down towards white paper) 5 - White paper (Reflectivity decreases exposure time) 6 - Black paper (blocks light from entering back) 7 - Glass back
Notes: Use dodge and burn techniques to insure even exposure Check the glass to make sure it’s not heating up. If it is, back the light up. If the glass heats up the gel will start cracking and blistering off the plate Expose plate using a 500 watt tungsten fennel at 3.5 ft with medium focus Make sure the plate is facing the light directly and not at an angle If using the sun to expose, do not allow the plate to heat up
The exposure needs to be sandwiched to the glass or it will just wash off. This is why we expose with the emulsion side down. During exposure, the gel will turn from blue to light blue repeatedly allowing a deeper layer to be sensitized by the light. Print until the contrast of the blue emulsion and the black negative are equal in contrast (solarized). This shows that the emulsion layers are thick enough to make a good print.
TRAY PROCESSING & SHEET FILM NEGATIVES Sheet film negatives are a good medium for contact printing. TRAY PROCESSING: PANCHROMATIC SHEET FILM [No Light] TIME RATIO INFO Water 1 min Removes green dye from film Developer 7 min 9+1 900 ml water + 100 ml Developer Water 30 sec Fixer 10 min 9+1 900 ml water + 100 ml Developer. Fix in the dark 5 min. Then another 5 minutes in [White light] white light. Water 30 sec Wash Aid 2 min 43+1 860 ml water + 20 ml wash aid Water 3 min Several trays of fresh water Distilled Water 2 min Removes hard water stains Dry 20 min Hang dry with cloths pins The table above applies to using Arista 100 ASA panchromatic sheet film and developers. Agitate the film throughout the entire process by lifting the photos, pulling the bottom image out of the bath, and placing it on the top. (Look up tray processing agitation method). Up to 8, 5x7 or 8x10” photos can be developed in one session. Processing various sizes of sheet film in one session will scratch the images. Use fresh developer for every developing session.
Load film in dark with film identification marks at the lower right hand corner. This is how you know the gray emulsion sided is up and ready to be exposed.
SELF PORTRAIT: STUDIO USING 2 DARK ROOM TIMERS: SHEET FILM Timer 1: Delay Timer 2: Exposure Lights
2 1k Fresnel’s
This lighting setup above is an example of using a long exposure with 2 darkroom development timers to take a self portrait.
Dark room timer setup for self portrait using sheet film.
GETTING CORRECT EXPOSURE Darkroom timers are not accurate like a well functioning lens shutter. Each second is 1/3 seconds longer then a lens shutter. Lens f-stop ratings, gray cards, shutters and light meters are only good to get you in the ballpark of what the photo should be. Developing time, chemical age, number of photos being processed at a time and agitation speed also play a factor. Film latitude is also very slim. About 2 f-stops of latitude. The only way to know your going to get a well exposed image is to standardize your process down the last detail. Have a good lens, that you can trust, and know what speeds you can trust it at. Check your shutter to see if it ever sticks, or if the speed is effected by how fast your push the trigger. Check that the shutter speeds are different at different settings. Try to use the same shutter & aperture settings most of the time. When in doubt, bracket your photos. (Take 3 photos using 3 shutter different speeds). Do your meter readings the same every time. You will need to write down studio, outdoor, shallow / wide DOF settings that you know will work with your camera & light setup. Check your gray card to see whether it is 12% or 18% Gray. 18% gray cards require ½ stop more exposure then 12%. Check your light meter by covering the light sensor and pressing the button. The needle should be exactly on zero. If not, you will need to do calibrate your light meter. The height, angle, distance & color temperature of light also affect exposure. OLD DEVELOPER The developing time varies greatly depending on the age of your developer. A newly opened and not expired batch of developer will develop images in 7 minutes. Over time the developer looses strength and gains a brown tint. Old developer can take up to 15 minutes to develop images. CHECKING NEGATIVES VISUAL CHECK To check the negative, lay it on a piece of white paper. 1) FACES: The face should be a mixture of light and gray tones. If the face is just black with barely any details visible the face has been overexposed. A negative with overexposed faces is not worth printing. 2) WHITE CLOTHING: If your subject has white clothing, the white clothing will need shadow detail to define it. Due to the shallow latitude of sheet film, a good print will focus on more critical detail like faces and white clothing and have very little shadow detail.
A comparison of two negatives when laid on a piece of paper. In the image above, you can see that the face on the right is blown out, while the second image has the correct exposure to bring out the details of the face. (Remember to lay the negatives on a piece of paper when checking them. Holding them in your hand and viewing them will give you a false impression).
EXPOSURE TEST: BRACKETING The only way to know if your photos will turn out is to take 3 images at different exposures and develop them to find the best exposure. In the example below the second image is the best. The first image looks good, but it is too close to blowing out the highlights and loosening face detail. It is better to push or pull the exposure later during printing.
PUSHING DEVELOPMENT If your negative doesn’t have detail, you might be pushing the developing time too long and increasing the print contrast. When the negative is in the developer the dark areas that create your highlights develop first, then the details of the mid tones, and finally the details of the brightest areas of the negative that create your shadows. In the final print, blown out high lights might be caused by an over developed negative (the darks of the negative become too dense). Lack of detail in the shadows may mean the image wasn’t developed long enough for the shadow detail to appear in the negative. Be careful not to over develop the film. The details of the face are the most important part of the image and will be lost in an over developed negative. Shadow details are the least important. IN PHOTOSHOP Check your negatives by scanning them & inverting them in Photoshop. A negative with a lot density may appear to be a good negative, but after viewing it in Photoshop you may realize the dark density means your highlight are blown out. In Photoshop examine the image for good detail in the highlights. You don’t want to see washed out faces or white clothing without detail.
FILM SUPPLIES Arista EDU Ultra B&W 100 ISO (8x10 50 sheets)
Arista EDU Ultra B&W 100 ISO (5x7 50 sheets)
Arista Premium Liquid Film Developer 64 oz. (Makes 5 Gallons)
Arista Premium Liquid Film Developer 5 Liters (Makes 13.21 Gallons) SW 14.5 LBS
Arista Premium Odorless Liquid Fixer 5 Liter (Concentrate to Make 13.21 Gallons)
Arista Premium Odorless Liquid Fixer 64 oz (Concentrate to Make 5 Gallons)
Arista Premium Hypo Wash 32 oz. (Makes 11 Gallons)
8x10 Arista 100 ASA Panchromatic Sheet Film.
COFFEE TONED GLASS CYANOTYPE A coffee toned glass cyanotype is a glass cyanotype that has been toned gray, sepia or multicolor using coffee. GRAY TONING For a gray toned image, use a glass cyanotype with a light density. The light density print will turn gray very quickly. Remove the print from the coffee before the clear binder starts turning sepia. Do not wash the print off before drying because the coffee is only toning the surface of the gelatin. Just fan dry the image vertically. SEPIA TONING In a sepia toned image, the blue has been toned black and the gelatin binder is toned light brown. This works best with a light contrast print which will tone easily and not acquire too much density. These prints take 1 hour to tone. MULTI-COLOR TONING A cyanotype print can auto-colorize during toning, often taking on tones of sepia, black, blue & green in the appropriate places. This basically has to do with the variety of densities in the print that create different shades of color as the blue mixes with brown. These prints take 6 hours to tone. Be careful that the print does not take on too much density. When viewing the print, it may look like a good strong density, but the contrast is doubled when backing it with white paper because the added darkness of the images shadow. The print can become too dark to see when framed. COFFEE TONING Coffee bath Tap water bath Distilled water bath Fan dry
(1 hour + toning only) (1 hour + toning only)
DENSITY Using a light density print Using a light density print Using a light density print
TIME 10 min 1 hr 6 hrs
4 tbsp / 4 cups / 65o F 15 sec 15 sec
RESULT Gray Sepia Black/ Brown/ Green/ Blue
This step should not be done until the plate has been fixed with a water bath, dried, then washed, light bleached (using sunlight to remove green and purple), and dried again. Basically, the plate should be a finished cyanotype plate before doing this. Pour the coffee into a developing tray. Add ice too cool it down. When the ice has melted and the coffee is around 65o F, lay the image in the tray. Don’t place the image in hot coffee. Heat liquefies the emulsion. After toning, place the plate in a tray of tap water and rock it for 15 seconds, then do the same with a tray of distilled water. Be aware that the water baths can wash
out some of the coffee. Examine the plate, and consider if a longer toning bath is needed. If not, fan dry the plate.
Coffee toned glass cyanotype (Joseph J. McAllister 2012).
Coffee toned glass cyanotype (Joseph J. McAllister 2012).
Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) President of the Confederate States of America 1861 - 1865. Coffee Toned Glass Cyanotype (Joseph J. McAllister 2012). Toned 10 minutes.
Annie Oakley (8/13/1860 – 11/3/1926). Cyanotype Toned Glass Cyanotype (Joseph J. McAllister 2012). Toned 10 minutes.
Coffee Toned Glass Cyanotype (Joseph J. McAllister 2012). Toned 12 hrs.
Coffee Toned Glass Cyanotype on projector.
Projection from a Coffee Toned Glass Cyanotype.
CYANOTYPE OROTYPE For an authentic method of bronzing the cyanotype, add bronzing powder to Sandarac varnish. Bronzing powder can be found at Michaels Art Supply stores in the gold leafing section. For a quick modern alternative, use Rust-Oleum bright coat metallic finish from Lows or Home Depot. Lay the plate flat on a table with a newspaper under it, wear a 3M painters respirator, layer the coat up to full thickness, blow drying the surface each time before adding another coat. Apply the lacquer or varnish directly to the emulsion side.
Cyanotype orotype (Joseph J. McAllister 2012).
CYANOTYPE LANTERN SLIDE A cyanotype lantern slide is a cyanotype plate that may be blue or toned gray, sepia, or multicolored with coffee for the purpose of making a traditional lantern slide. The cyanotype lantern slide is made using 3 layers of glass because the glass cyanotype is more ascetic when viewed from the clean side of the plate. The size of the plate can be 5x7” or 4x5”. You can also use ground glass as the back plate. The final plate should have a medium or dark density. LAYERS 1) Clear Glass (Front) 2) Paper Vignette 3) Glass Cyanotype - Emulsion side down 4) Clear Glass (Back) PAPER VIGNETTE The vignette should be made using construction paper that is thick enough to block light, but thin enough so it doesn’t jam in the printer. Some printers will jam if you try to print card stock. After printing your vignette, cut out the bulk of the center out with a razor blade, then use a pair of scissors to cut out the window. Be sure your vignette template has a guide line for cutting. A good place to find a wide variety of scrap booking paper is Michaels Arts & Crafts.
Paper vignette making supplies.
ARTIST TAPE Artist's Loft™ Artist Tape from Michaels Arts & Crafts is a paper based tape that is 3/4" wide. It is a perfect match for the tape used on 19th Century lantern slides. Stack the lantern slide layers then apply the tape in 4 strips across the back covering approximately 1/8” of the edges. Fold the tape over and cut at the corners. Do the top and bottom first, then left and right. Now do the same to the front side. GOLD LEAF PRINTING Gold leaf printing is very hard to come by. Printing companies will only do gold leaf if you’re ordering a thousand prints or more. A quick method to make a few gold leaf prints is to use a toner transfer method. Print a vignette template onto black construction paper using a laser jet printer (inkjet will not work). The template will be black and white with thick black lines where the gold will be transferred. Fine detail designs will not work. Lay a gold leaf foil transfer sheet from Michaels Arts & Crafts over the vignette. Place a piece of printer paper over that (to protect your iron). Then iron the gold leaf onto the paper. The toner ink will melt and act as an adhesive. Now take paint brush and work the loose foil off the paper. This will make a mess of gold leaf particles which you can reuse or vacuum up later. Another method is to use a foil-it machine which uses heated rollers to melt the toner, but the little machines are hard to find. Probably sold by a scrap booking supply retailer. LINKS Scrap Booking Paper Artist's Loft™ Artist Tape Gold Leaf Foil Transfer Sheets
5x7” Cyanotype Lantern Slide with Gold Leaf (Joseph J. McAllister 2013).
5x7” Cyanotype Lantern Slide (Joseph J. McAllister 2013).
COFFEE TONED CYANOTYPE OROTYPE The coffee toned cyanotype-orotype is a type of orotype made using cyanotype instead of a silver based method. Take a light contrast glass cyanotype print, tone it for 10 minutes in coffee, then fan dry. When dry, it should be light gray. Now, orotone the cyanotype by coating the emulsion side of the plate. You should have a gold and black print. COFFEE TONING Coffee bath Using a light contrast print Fan dry
4 tbsp / 4 cups / 65o F 10 min
Note: If the plate was toned for only 10 minutes, do not rinse the plate before fan drying it. Allow the coffee to dry on the surface of the plate. Fan dry vertical. BRONZING For an authentic method of bronzing the cyanotype, add bronzing powder to Sandarac varnish. Bronzing powder can be found at Michaels Art Supply stores in the gold leafing section. For a quick modern alternative, use Rust-Oleum bright coat metallic finish from Lows or Home Depot. Lay the plate flat on a table with a newspaper under it, wear a 3M painters respirator, layer the coat up to full thickness, blow drying the surface each time before adding another coat. Apply the lacquer or varnish directly to the emulsion side.
Annie Oakley & Jefferson Davis. Coffee Toned Cyanotype Orotypes (Joseph J. McAllister 2012).
Annie Oakley (8/13/1860 – 11/3/1926). Coffee Toned Cyanotype Orotype (Joseph J. McAllister 2012).
BRASS CYANOTYPES For the brass plates, use 22g. (0.025) or 26g. (0.016) brass sheets. These can be cut using a paper trimmer. When coating metal, the big problem is that the metal sheet is not flat in your hand. As the metal warps with the weight of gravity, the emulsion forms puddles. When coating, place the plate in a developing tray so the plate stays flat, then coat & develop as before. FLAKING ISSUE Another issue with brass cyanotypes is that after they are finished, is they bend slightly while you are handling them, the emulsion can flake off. They should be laid flat, coated with 1 coat of RustOleum crystal clear enamel, and blow dried quickly so the paint doesn’t dissolve the gelatin. Make sure that you don’t dry spray the plate. You want to get a good shiny coat in one try without any dry patches, dripping or pooling. Brass Cyanotypes are only safe once they are framed behind glass. LINKS Brass Sheet 22g. (0.025)
Brass Sheet 26g. (0.016)
Paper Cutter / Trimmer
Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) President of the Confederate States of America 1861 - 1865. 8x10” Brass Cyanotype (Joseph J. McAllister 2012).
George Armstrong Custer (December 5, 1839 – June 25, 1876). 8x10” Brass Cyanotype (Joseph J. McAllister 2012).
FRAMING Frame the images with the glass side facing out, and back with white paper. Pack the frame so the paper is pressed tightly against the glass or the image will appear blurred. Surprisingly, the images look good in just about any frame. Personally, I like to pick out odd frames that seem like an odd match, like the frames below. I’m usually surprised that an unusual frame can be more interesting then a standard Victorian frame.
Annie Oakley (August 13, 1860 – November 3, 1926), Framed 8x10 Coffee Toned Cyanotype Orotypes (Joseph J. McAllister 2013).
Annie Oakley (August 13, 1860 – November 3, 1926), Framed 8x10 Cyanotypes (Joseph J. McAllister 2013).
PRINTING DEFECTS AIR BELLS Air bells are a common flaw in dry plates. They are little bubbles of air trapped in the emulsion.
AIR BELL TRAILS Air bells often leave dark or light trails on the plate when the emulsion is being poured off after coating.
SNOW FLAKES (CRYSTALLIZATION) Small snow flake like crystal formations on dry plates formed when the emulsion is over heated.
FRILLING Wrinkling of a gelatin layer at the edges during processing caused by the gel expanding and lifting from the plate.
BLISTERING Cracking and peeling of the gel layer from the plate during drying. This is caused from the gel layer being too thick. This can also happen during exposure when the glass heats up and the emulsion starts to dry and detach form the plate. GELATIN SPOTS Black chips in the final image. This happens when the gel is overheated and forms a hard burnt layer against the walls of the crock pot which may have been scrapped into the gel using a spoon. Never scrape the sides of the crock pot when pouring the gel back into the storage container.
GELATIN SPOTS Gelatin spots appear when the gel is too weak. In weak gels the image usually washes off the plate in the first bath as well.
DRIPS Drips happen during coating of the plate when the emulsion starts to cool before pour off. To avoid drips, make sure the emulsion is hot enough, and cover at least 80% of the plate when applying the emulsion.
EDGE BERM Edge berm is the build up of gel at the pour off edge. It forms when the plate is fan drying vertically. This can be avoided almost completely by taking time to absorb the emulsion at the drip corner after coating. Continue until the rate of emulsion being absorbed by the paper towel slows down.
HIGH LIGHT DETAIL WASHOUT In the print below you can see white patches where the high light detail has been washed out. This happens when the emulsion is dissolved during the initial wash. The highlights are the weakest part of the image. High light detail wash out indicates a weak gel.
DOUBLE EXPOSURE Double exposures can happen during exposure when the glass in the contact printing frame heats up. As the glass expands, gravity takes hold and the print slides down. Try to avoid printing with the frame vertical. Be aware of this if you are using a cheap or oversized printing frame that was not really designed for printing.
PURPLE & GREENS Using a strong gelatin mixture, helps to keep the gel from washing off the plate during the initial wash, especially the high light detail which is the weakest part of the image. The draw back, is as you increase the strength of the gel, it becomes harder to wash the unexposed emulsion form the plate. The green color below is unexposed emulsion, while the purple is the green emulsion after it has been exposed to white light. If you have already washed and dried the plate once, the emulsion is now very hard. At this point you can use cold tap water to work the unexposed emulsion out. Let the tap pour directly onto the areas you are trying wash out. Only do this for around a minute. Some of the green and purple usually won’t wash out. While the plate is still wet, place it in a while developing tray and hold it in the sunlight. After 60 seconds these colors will turn clear and the blue will become a little more vivid. Place the plate in a tray of distilled water for another 30 seconds. The blue will become a little more vivid, and then start to lighten. Watch for this reaction on the plate. When it starts to lighten, remove it from the distilled water quickly, then fan dry vertically.
Print with traces of unexposed cyanotype chemicals in the gelatin.
NEGATIVE PRINT On occasion I have a print that turns negative when it is put into the initial water bath. This happens when the image is over exposed in direct sun light to the point where an ugly gray color starts forming. As you soak the image it will turn to a positive over 3-4 minutes of sitting it in the water bath. The image below was completely negative when I first put it into the water bath. It took 5 minutes for the image to appear.
Photo after initial water bath.
Photographer Peter Geo by Joseph J. McAllister 2013.
HISTORY CYANOTYPE Invented in 1842, by Sir John Frederick William Herschel, 1st Baronet, KH, FRS, and popular as a photo medium from 1880-1920, and used to print “blue prints” for maps and architecture in modern day. GLASS CYANOTYPES IN THE 19TH CENTURY Historically, cyanotypes on glass are a bit of a mystery. The process was so rare in the 1800s that it was almost completely undocumented. I have never come across a historical image of a glass cyanotype. The first one was probably made sometime after 1871, after dry plates using silver bromo-iodide mixed with gelatin were invented. Another reason why glass cyanotypes are so rare is that cyanotypes were a very unpopular photographic method in the Victorian era. Critics of the method despised the brilliant Persian blue color, in favor of more subtle colors like toned Albumen Prints. The process was mainly used as a fast way to proof negatives. Glass cyanotypes are sometimes referenced as “cyanotype lantern slides”. Several old 19th century manuscripts mention that the process can be done on glass, but only a few tell a basic idea of how this might have been accomplished. One such writing implied that glass could be coated with gelatin and sensitized with cyanotype. DRY PLATE 1871 Dry plate, also known as silver gelatin process, was invented by Dr. Richard L. Maddox in 1871. In 1879, the first dry plate factory had been established, the Keystone Dry Plate Works. In 1873, Charles Bennett discovered a method of hardening the emulsion, making it more resistant to touch. In 1878, Bennett discovered that by prolonged heating, the sensitivity of the emulsion could be greatly increased. George Eastman developed a machine to coat plates in 1879 and opened the Eastman Dry Plate Company. GLASS CYANOTYPES MODERN PROCESS I didn’t have much to go on but the references that a plate coated in gelatin could be sensitized with cyanotype. I imagine that meant soaking it in cyanotype solution. I was thinking of dry plate method, where the gelatin is already photo sensitive, and kept in the dark like modern sheet film. For convenience and an even mixture with fewer defects I decided the results of dry plate methods were superior to wet plate sensitizing methods. I first experimented with gelatin to make a strong gel that could withstand processing, but be soft enough to allow the unexposed cyanotype chemicals to be washed out. I also wanted to come up with the easiest method for mixing the emulsion. After a few weeks of experimenting, I came up with my first working batch; an easy to make light sensitive gelatin with high image quality. OROTYPE Edward S. Curtis invented orotype photographs in 1916 which he nicknamed Curt-Tone (also known as orotone, goldtone or aurotypes). The photographs are an inter-negative ambrotype backed with a banana oil varnish giving the images a bronze tone.
PHOTOGRAPHIC INVENTIONS (Joseph J. McAllister) CYANOTYPE OROTYPES The cyanotype-orotype was invented by Joseph J. McAllister in 2012, while experimenting with applications for glass cyanotypes. This photo type is a blue dry plate cyanotype on glass coated with a bronze varnish or lacquer, viewed from the clean side of the glass, creating a blue & gold print.
COFFEE TONED CYANOTYPE OROTYPES The coffee toned cyanotype-orotype was invented by Joseph J. McAllister in 2012, while experimenting with applications for glass cyanotypes. This photo type is a dry plate cyanotype, coffee toned gray, coated with a bronze varnish or lacquer, viewed from the clean side of the glass, creating a black & gold print.
COFFEE TONED GLASS CYANOTYPE The coffee toned glass-cyanotype was invented by Joseph J. McAllister in 2012, while experimenting with applications for glass cyanotypes. This photo type is a dry plate cyanotype, coffee toned sepia, gray or (black, brown, blue & green), creating a sepia or a subtle multi color print.
CYANOTYPE LANTERN SLIDE The cyanotype lantern slide was invented by Joseph J. McAllister in 2012, while experimenting with applications for glass cyanotypes. This photo type is a dry plate cyanotype, that may be blue or coffee toned gray or sepia. Its main purpose is for making 5x7” traditional lantern slides without using a more expensive silver based method.
BRASS CYANOTYPE The brass-cyanotype was invented by Joseph J. McAllister in 2012, while experimenting with applications for glass cyanotypes. This photo type is a dry plate cyanotype coated on brass, creating a blue and gold image.
ALBUMEN WOOD PRINT An albumen wood-printing was invented by Joseph J. McAllister in 2013. This photo type is made by coating a wood base with sensitized albumen (egg whites) to create a sepia tone image.
VAN DYKE BROWN MICROFORMS April 10, 2014 (6.35mm) & (2mm) An experiment in the resolution potential of paper printing based on the work of John Benjamin Dancer, the inventor of microphotography.
John Herschel (7 March 1792 – 11 May 1871). JOHN HERSCHEL Sir John Frederick William Herschel,1st Baronet, KH, FRS (7 March 1792 – 11 May 1871) English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, inventor & photographer. John Herschel invented the Cyanotype, Platinum, Anthotype, Argentotype, and Chrysotype processes. Chrysotype (chripotype or gold print) invented by John Herschel in 1842, was named from the Greek word for gold. It uses colloidal gold to record images on paper. An anthotype is an image created using sensitized plant material, also invented by Herschel in 1842. Anthotype emulsion is made from crushed flower petals or any other light-sensitive plants, fruits or vegetables. A sheet of paper is coated and dried and exposed to sun light until the image is bleached out. Herschel originally discovered the platinum process on the basis of the light sensitivity of platinum salts, later this was developed by William Willis. Herschel also discovered sodium thiosulfate as a solvent for silver halides in 1819, and informed Talbot and Daguerre of his discovery that hyposulphite of soda (hypo) could be used as
a photographic fixer, in 1839. Herschel’s research was read at the Royal Society in London in March 1839 & January 1840.
LINKS Unblinking Eye: Cyanotype Formulas Bostick & Sullivan Photo Formulary Free Style Photo: Arista 8x10 Film Supplies