U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: Toned cyanotype query

Re: Toned cyanotype query

On Sat, 27 Oct 2007, Linda Stinchfield wrote:

I have a book, Photography's Antiquarian Avant-Garde, the New Wave in Old Processes, by Lyle Rexer, and on p. 122 there's an image by John Metoyer that's identified simply as "toned cyanotype". Would anyone on the list be familiar with the book-- and more importantly (to me) what that image might have been toned wth? The highligts are a purplish gray and the darks are kind of deep indigo.

Linda S.
Linda, in the first place, you can't ever judge the tone of a photograph from a book, because the production crew makes it any color that appeals to them (or that it comes out) and then the vagaries and vicisitudes of the process itself (temperature, condition and source of chemicals, and of your timing, etc.) further vary the tone.

Also, as far as I know, Metoyer was doing Mike Ware's "New Cyanotype," which was a different chemistry, and although the blue itself was very intense (when successful), I'm not aware of anyone toning it. You might try Mike Ware's website to see if he comments on the topic. I also have Ware's book on the New Cyanotype, but odds of finding it are again unclear, maybe 50-50. I'll try, but that was more than 5 years ago -- and a lot of silt has blown onto everything since then. In any event, as I believe may have been pointed out, when highlights & shadows differ sharply in tone, it's usually from split toning. Easier than it sounds: you only tone partway before doing.... whatever. But for repeating the effects, obviously timing, temperature and condition of solutions must be carefully controlled. (And fortunately, cyano is so cheap & easy that if you screw up -- well, it's not like wrecking a gum. Tho gum is actually harder to wreck... tho that's not this chapter.)

Third, although I'm intensely honored that Bob has named a toner for me, and I did try every toner known for standard cyanotype, and fed some (figuratively) to students, who often kept after a particular direction until it was tuned, I don't immediately recall the color of the one he cites.

I also hope not to display ignorance by noting that, though I and/or students have even gotten delicious, marvelous, swooningly lovely purple tones in cyano, all that I know of faded to "regular" blue -- either as soon as dry, or within a week or so. I have seen stretches or patches of purple that remained, but they seem to have been random acts of god... that is we (or I) never could figure out how they happened, or repeat them.

I did see John Metoyer's show at John Stevenson, the colors were stunning and intense, but I don't *remember* any purplish tones or, guaranteed I would have been all over him. Somewhere in this mess, however, I've got Lyle Rexer's book. If I can find it, I'll check that print.

PS. Post-Factory #5 has a section on toning cyanotype (regular formula); if you e-mail offlist I'll explain how to get it...