Cyanotypes / Sun Prints

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I’ve been having fun this summer making cyanotype prints and refining my ‘technique’ along the way. Since last summer’s basic-as-possible efforts, I’ve:

  • Bought a proper developer tray (works much better than the kitchen sink)
  • Worked out a way to make digital negatives in Adobe Lightroom (in short: convert to B&W; increase contrast; tidy up stray background highlights; flip horizontal; reverse the tone curve to make the blacks white and vice versa)
  • Printed the digital negatives on clear overhead projector ‘paper’ (film?)
  • Acquired some much beefier bulldog clips (or ‘fold back clips’ as they seem to be called now) – these are key to a nice crisp print (if that’s what you’re after), and make drying the prints much easier.

It’s a great, low-tech way to experience the magic of an image appearing like magic, and get the satisfaction of having made something. Below are some pics of the prints I’ve made, and the process of making them.

Cyanotype ‘studio’, ie the back garden.

Digital negative, printed on to overhead projector film through a cheap laser printer.

Print being washed after exposure. A small flow of water from the hose helps get the remaining chemicals off the paper.

Pre-prepared paper, bought online.

Print being exposed in the sun. The blue plastic sheet came with the kit, and helps keep the print flat. A similarly-sized sheet of hardboard for the back would help keep a more even contact across the paper for a crisper print.

Tunnel Refineries print drying.

Angerstein to Antigallican: a walk along Woolwich Road, Charlton; August 2016

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I took my cameras for a walk along Woolwich Road between two landmark pubs, starting at the Angerstein Hotel; passing the landmark shops (‘mirror’, and ‘ass’); the unexplained shipping container of Holmwood Villas; East Greenwich fire station; Pickwick’s pub (recently closed); the motorway service station architectural vibes of Frankie & Benny’s and Starbucks; the Rose of Denmark pub; the out-of-town-shopping-centre-but-in-town incongruous mass of M&S and Sainsbury’s; Valley House (awaiting demolition); and finishing up at The Antigallican. The sun was belting hot and not particularly nice for photography, there was too much traffic, and there are far too many signposts and the like cluttering the view along there, but it was an interesting exercise; I might try it again in the winter.

Putney Bridge station; August 2016

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Snapped on my way home from the excellent Caught by the River Thames festival on Sunday. Highlights of the event:

  • The London Sound Survey (and finally meeting the brains behind the project)
  • Beer and paella in the sunshine, sitting in  Fulham Palace’s walled garden
  • Temples (yes retro, yes derivative, but also fun and they have tunes and the chops to make it work without being stodgy)
  • Super Furry Animals: just brilliant, uplifting, moving, amusing, and perfect for the event.

I hope they do it again next year.

Down by the river: North Greenwich; August 2016

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A bit of time to kill before going to Caught by the River Thames in Fulham spent photographing around the Thames path on the north-west corner of Greenwich peninsula. It’d be a lot easier to make decent photos round there if it wasn’t for the miles of metal fencing, but it remains an interesting place to walk and photograph.

The sculpture is Alex Chinneck’s A bullet from a shooting star, part of the The Line – a sculpture trail running across both sides of the river, that I really should investigate more.

À Lille, pour le Weekend; July 2016

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A great weekend in Lille, travelling  by Eurostar from Ebbsfleet International (about which I could get quite evangelical – for its convenience, if not its glamour and sophistication: the train left Lille Europe at 17.36 local time on the way home and we got into our house in SE7 at 18.20).

I visited France a lot as a child and – a bit like with camping the previous weekend  – couldn’t imagine at the time that I wouldn’t do so regularly forever, but then through my 20’s and 30’s hardly went at all. It felt good to be back there, and to see my daughter discover Orangina, waffles, pain au chocolat, and all those things that are readily available in London but somehow much better in France. Paris next year, I think.

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