Blue (a cyanotype tutorial from a cyanotype newbie)

Craft, Photography

BlueI spent some time last Monday doing more cyanotypes. I made them 4×6 so I could use them as postcards for the postcard swap.

I am really enjoying this printing process. I am learning all kinds of things about printing in general, and specifically contact printing (which I am finding myself interested in).

In case anyone is interested in how this is done, here is how I made this particular print:

1. Find a photo that you think might make a good print. I am still trying to figure what kinds of photos make good cyanotype prints. I have read a few things about this but I learn best via trial and error. Her is the original shot I used. I took it last year in Vacouver B.C. at the farmer’s market on Granville Island.

Sunflowers

2. Invert your photo in your favorite image editing software. The idea is to make your photo into a large negative, as cyanotype is a contact printing process. I use Adobe Lightroom so for me to invert my image I had to adjust the tone curve (using the instructions here).  I created a develop preset for this function.

3. Make your digital negative printable. This, oddly, was the hardest part of this whole process for me at first. Then I discovered Lightroom has a printing module . It makes this part really easy.  I save my file as a PDF.

4. Print digital negative onto transparency paper. You can buy  transparency paper at office supply stores or at Amazon.

5. Mix chemistry. I use the Photographer’s Formulary liquid kit. Mix even amounts of A and B. You will not need very much of each. A small cup used for cough syrup works well to measure out your chemistry. I mix it into a small glass jar recycled from the bin. Once the chemistry is mixed it is photo sensitive so you must mix it in a darkened room. I have a safelight, so I keep that on so I can see. I don’t think the room has to be pitch black dark. I’ve done this in the bathroom with the lights off and light streaming in from under the door and everything turned out fine.

6. Apply chemistry to watercolor paper. This is the part I am still struggling with, so I am not sure I can give much instruction here.  At the moment I am using an art sponge brush and it seems to work OK. I brush it on in horizontal strokes, and then go over it again using vertical strokes. The idea is to get it on evenly and just the right amount.  After you have applied the chemistry let it dry in the dark.

7.  Place your transparency negative on the paper and put a piece of glass on top (sandwich the transparency between the paper and the glass). You want the transparency as flat as possible  on the paper.

8. Place your paper/transparency/glass sandwich in the sun. When your image turns army green it is done.

9. Rinse in running water for 5 minutes. You will watch it develop before your eyes like magic.

10. Place in a hydrogen peroxide/water bath of  for a second to bring out the deep blue color. 50 ML of hydrogen peroxide to 500 ML of water.

11. Let dry.

If I can do this anyone can! It’s fun and easy and a great way to learn about making prints. It would probably be a great thing to do with kids.

 

 

On maybe (perhaps) being a reluctant notebook person

Craft

So, there has been some lighthearted Twitter arguing discussion about notebook vs. no notebook in the pinhole photography community (you should watch this very eloquent video SquarePegPinhole made in  response to this discussion). I have been a vehement notebook denier. I have never seen the need and find them cumbersome and distracting.  I feel like they break my creative flow. I have even tried a few of the really great iPhone apps and they never work for me. I inevitably forget to jot down my exposure information.

I have reluctantly changed my tune. In a way.

A few months ago I bought a large format pinhole camera, a Zero 45. There are several options one can use with it from zone plate, to pinhole. You can add extension frames. You can use different backs (which means you can use sheet film as well as 120 roll film or even Polaroid). The first time I took this camera out I tried almost everything with it.  It was fun, but when I developed my film and looked at the images I had no idea what I did. I was kind of mad at myself because I was trying out this new camera and was left at square one, not knowing how each setting affected the photo. This is when I began to question my non-notebook ways.

I asked around and a a friend suggested the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. It looked like it was right up my alley. I have been using it now for a couple of months and I love it. I carry it with me everywhere and I use it for photography, but I also use it for work too.  I use it to keep my to-do list every day which has helped me stay focused. Also, I like to hand make my own books and there are great tutorials on how to hack your own Midori insert. I love this! It totally appeals to my creative side.

As for the photography journal part of it: I still can’t seem to write down each exposure. When I am shooting photos I am using the creative side of my brain and it is very difficult for me to turn that side off and go left brain with the technical details. Instead I am taking notes before and after I shoot and I write down as much as I can remember.

Here is a video about how I organize my Midori notebook.

Here are some links referenced in the Video:

Baum-Kuchen for Midori resources. Specifically the leather charm on the front.

Check out Chronodex here.

It’s my Blog’s Birthday and I have a gift for YOU!

Craft

On this day ten years ago I wrote my first blog post. It was about how much I loved driving up the California Coast and I debated about whether I should move away or stay. So very much has happened in the ten years that have passed. I stayed in California for 2 more years and then I moved to Spokane,bought a house, and lived through two terrible winters. Now I live in Oregon and I love it. I love living in the foothills of Mt. Hood and I love Portland. I couldn’t be happier. Well, maybe if I lived in Paris I would be happier. One can dream! Who knows, maybe in ten years I will be writing about how much I love living in France.

But enough of this reminiscing! To celebrate my ten-year blogiversary I have a gift for YOU, my readers! This blog has been a joy to me for the past decade. I have met so many great friends though this little corner of the internet and I am so grateful for that. I am grateful for you. You have made my life better these past ten years.

I am making completely handmade booklets to give away. 25 of them. I have chosen a few of my favorite blog posts and typed them out on my typewriter. There also some of my favorite photos included, as well. Everything has been hand assembled and lovingly put together. The covers are hand painted, each one different. The binding is even hand-stitched! But most of all, my heart and soul is in there too.

If you would like one let me know by filling out the form below! I will make one and get it to you as soon as I can.

Thank you for reading my blog and thank you for the friendship!

All 25 books have been spoken for! Thanks again so much for reading! I had so much fun doing this that I will probably do it again sometime. 

We made books!

Craft
Vista party 12/12/12

I did a lot of stapling yesterday.

I have been helping on the  most amazing project the past few months and it all came to fruition yesterday! I breifly mentioned the kids from the after-school program I do once a week in a post from a couple of weeks ago. This year we wanted to do something really special with them. I have been very interested in bookmaking and zines for quite a while and thought it might be fun to create a zine with this group. Actually, my colleague came up with the idea first, but it had also been on my mind as well (we talked about kid zines in a previous conversation). It ended up being a really fun project and it happened a lot more quickly than I expected! Each week we went up there and we had the kids write poems, draw pictures, and tell us stories (that we transcribed). We then compiled them into a little booklet. Yesterday was our big unveiling and presentation.

Vista party 12/12/12

The unveiling!

I am SO proud of them! I continue to be blown away by their creativity. I hope that this is the first of many issues. We decided on “Animals” as a theme this time. We got really awesome and varied stories, from fantasies about unicorns, to real stories from their past. They were all so fantastic. I love these kids.

Vista party 12/12/12

That so did not work for me

Craft

The “washing my face with honey” experiment is kaput. After two days of it my skin freaked. out. I think I might have had an allergic reaction, actually. Which is interesting and makes me wonder if I should even be EATING it.  I should know better by now. Claims made by people on the intertubes that are based on ancient myth (Cleopatra bathed in honey!) are not a reason to try something (duh). I, however, am a sucker for good narratives.

So that is that. In case you wanted to know.

Honey

Honey (Photo credit: quisnovus)