U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: Clearing cyanotypes, minimizing bleeding into highlights

Re: Clearing cyanotypes, minimizing bleeding into highlights

Hello, Brian,

I see you've received plenty of great advice already, but I thought I'd make a suggestion: make some photograms - shadow prints using household objects - try to clear those, and then report back.

I've been doing cyanotypes using the classic formula (as described on alternativephotography.com & in Malin's excellent book), and I use Weston Diploma Parchment. I have only had clearing problems twice since I started using cyanotypes a few years ago, and they were due to (1) overexposure through insufficiently dense negatives when I was first starting out and (2) a bad chemistry mixing job late one night (the problem went away as soon as I mixed up fresh chemicals). The way I was able to figure out the problem in each case was to make photograms with opaque metal objects. When the shadow left behind did clear to white, it meant that my negatives were too weak. When the shadow didn't, it meant that my chemistry (or paper/chemistry combination) was bad. This is a great way to test any new process: my first kallitypes wouldn't clear to white, and it turned out to be a chemistry/paper combination problem, because not even thick metal magnets could make a clean, white 'shadow' on my paper.

Cyanotypes are a pleasure for me every time I print them, and I'm sure they could be for you. I hope you can solve the problem!


Brian Pawlowski wrote:
Hi. My first post - and its a basic one. I've been wading through the
archives and searching and reading all my references and I'm somewhat

The only thing holding me back from doing cyanotypes is the
difficulties in clearing the print without blue bleeding into the
highlights. I cannot maintain paper white. I've been using the PDN
system to calibrate my exposures (been playing with Pd, POP, Silver -
cyanotypes keep driving me back to Pd printing). Mark Nelson made some
suggestions and I combined with some reading and interpolation and am

- Traditional Cyanotype (Bostick and Sullivan kit).
3:2 mix (A:B) - to increase speed. Two drops Tween 20
per 10ml emulsion.

- Humidity is 50-60% in room - paper left out for at least
1/2 hour to stabilize.

- Brush coat (hake brush), work emulsion to paper to get a consistent layer with fairly gentle strokes

- Air dry about 2 hours (I know, I know - Mark keeps telling
me to be consistent - I watch a movie during drying).

- Been focusing on Crane's Diploma Parchment from B&S - calibrate to a 2m 56s exposure using 31 step tablet and X-rite
810 (I think) densitometer. (Diploma Parchment has
much better wet strength than Crane's Platinotype
had it seems to me)

- Dmax 1.29+ (partly because I am not using hydrogen peroxide any more as I think it aggravated the bleeding into
the highlight areas). And 21 steps of scale.

- Mark passed on Sam Wang's (?) suggestion to clear the exposed
paper inverted in a water bath. I add about 5 ml of a 1:100
dilution of Hydrochloric Acid to about 2 liters of clearing
bath to start.

- I run water into the bath slowly to allow the water to change out
the blue and keep it up until it remains clear (about 1/2 hour). No hot water - so tap water circulating is about 50 deg F at this point? (don't have the Ph of my water - sorry).

- Remove print, lay on paper towel - lay another sheet of paper
towel on top - remove excess water, dry flat face up.

I'm wondering if I am asking too much from the process?

Any words of advice?

Mark suggested someone had success with Arches Platine - which
I had some of and I gave it a whirl - the paper is slower with
the same steps above - by 1 stop or more?


Thanks:-) And Happy New Year!