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  • Writer's pictureChiara

Photography alternatives

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

This is a story of experimentation and persistence. My search for a suitable alternative photographic method continued throughout the semester. Cyanotype seemed to be the best candidate in that the chemistry is relatively safe and readily available and the exposure parameters seemed to be achievable. There are plenty of online tutorials available. Getting a handle on the process proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated.

First the basic requirements

- a substrate: paper or cloth are usual . I chose a relatively inexpensive watercolour papers for my trials, planning to go on to a better quality paper once I had achieved some mastery of the medium. I tested that they would survive the soaking and agitation required to develop the cyanotype.

- chemicals: Jacquard sell a kit consisting of the two components, imaginatively named Part A (Potassium Ferricyanide) and Part B (Ferric Ammonium Citrate).

- a negative or object to print: my goal was to print from transparencies made from my own photographs.

- a mechanism for holding the negative and substrate in close contact. I used some cheap picture frames with vinyl "glass".

- a UV light source: traditionally the sun, but artificial light alternatives should allow more flexibility and control. This element proved to be the most difficult for me.

Before embarking on the actual cyanotype process, I tested my picture frame. It seems like the most trivial of the components, but I was warned that some frame glass or plastics block UV transmission. I had some old solarfast dyes on hand, so I used them to do a rough test. Apart from the fact that the frame structure wasn't really strong enough to hold the chicken wire firmly against the paper, the setup passed the test.

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