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

Re: Toned cyanotype query-reply to Judy

Dear Loris and all,

I admit I never tried Ware's formula... and I'm willing to believe that what Loris, for instance, says here about its superiority is true, at least under many conditions. But the reason I originally fell in love with cyanotype was its absolute perfect no-fail simplicity. You could print it (literally) on a piece of paper you picked up out of the gutter in the East Village (as a student of mine boasted she'd done) and if you had it in the negative get, say, 8 steps.

If you screwed up, it took a minute (and 2 pennies) to recoat & start over. And, although I've done a number of cyano's (note the plural made with apostrophe!) that I would dare consider art, and although it's a marvelous magical intro to "alt" for a class that's (literally) never been outside the box (the Kodak box that is, or was, in days of yore), and I have a few, including pictures of and books of, cyanotypes that are clearly art of a high order, if I myself am going to work with something as "fiddly" (Bristishism) as the "New" was (or seemed), I want the greater latitude of gum.

Not that gum is as fiddly as New Cyano, you understand, tho it gets a bum rap from folks misled by bad advice, reputation, backwards thinking, and/or stupid manuals from hell, it's clearly not as cut and dried as for instance VDB or platinum: You have many more variables to negotiate (especially in development, which somehow gets short shrift in these discussions) but of course infinitely more possibilities.

Thus, especially in the early days of New Cyanotype, when the contributions, advice and findings of users like Loris, et al, hadn't arrived, when early reports were cries of woe about how sensitive it was to paper, and I personally was up to my ears, I found it an easy one to skip. (Do I repeat myself?)

My original dream of cyano, by the way, was to make it into a kind of alternative xerox, to slap real "photographic prints" out like we'd bat out photo copies. Now I guess, having had my own copier these (no, it can't be 20, let's say 19 years) that early idea -- which did bear various fruit(s), seems long ago & far away. (Isn't that a song?)

Tho I write these words with hesitation. No sooner do I utter a sentiment along such lines than fate conspires to make me reverse it. Please, pray for me.


Bob and Christina,

In my view, Mike Ware's formula is definitely superior to the original one. Especially in the highlights; you get very smooth hight lights with much more subtlety with Ware formulation. Also you definitely get much much darker
> "blacks" (either when compared to classic formula mixed 1A+1B or 2A+1B).

Christina, since sensitizers with Ammonium Iron(III) Citrate (read as classic formula) are harder for papers to absorb in, that's probably the cause of the problem you experience with grainy prints. Using some Ilfotol, Photo-Flo, Tween and/or coating relatively damp paper may eliminate this problem depending on the particular paper you're using at that moment...