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 Judy,

IME, New Cyanotype is practically as simple as Traditional Cyanotype. In
fact, I had more failures with Classic Cyanotype than with New Cyanotype
(staining and/or low dmax because of bleeding, fogging and/or grainy
results <- those last ones were mostly when I was double coating for
better dmax... ect. ect.), in other words my success ratio was (and is
still) higher with New Cyanotype, really...

Preparing the New Cyanotype sensitizer may not be as easy as preparing
the Traditional Cyanotype sensitizer but the difference is marginal /
purely academic. Preparation of the New sensitizer is no harder than
cooking any dish (except for omelette maybe - unless you aren't using a
teflon pan) and/or making coffe. In fact, I find cooking much harder
than mixing New Cyanotype sensitizer (and once mixed, it's easier to use
- since there's only one bottle of solution -> as simple as it can be).
Then there's this "toxicity" issue (which of course you didn't
mentioned, but I nevertheless want to touch on this too), which is also
a purely marginal / academic one too -> moreso for anyone who would
prefer the greater latitude of gum (= thousands times more dichromate

Straight New Cyanotype is indeed picky about paper -> but as Christina
mentioned before, this is not something that doesn't have a workaround
as simple as adding few drops of 40% citric acid into the coating
solution (a drop per 10 drops of coating solution in my practice). On
the other hand, when someone decides to spend their precious time and
labor (I think many will agree that this possibly the most expensive
type of investment in our age) in making fine alt-process prints, I
think they should choose the best paper available to them along with the
best method to create their vision / achieve their goal...

BTW, New Cyanotype is a very good paper purity tester; you can buy any
paper that works well with New Cyanotype with ultimate confidence and
use it with more costly iron processes such as Pt/Pd later... I simply
reject the idea of putting money on any paper that doesn't work well
with New Cyanotype (except for ultra-cheap Masa paper - which is fine
for many other processes and purposes).

Best regards,

-----Original Message-----
From: Judy Seigel [mailto:jseigel@panix.com] 
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2007 8:00 PM
To: alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca
Subject: 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
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
latitude of gum.

Not that gum is as fiddly as New Cyano, you understand, tho it gets a
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
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
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
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
  > "blacks" (either when compared to classic formula mixed 1A+1B or 
> 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,
> Tween and/or coating relatively damp paper may eliminate this problem 
> depending on the particular paper you're using at that moment...