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earlj
02-08-2014, 10:19 PM
After Mike Ware provided a link to his updated Cyanomicon (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/47727259/Cyanomicon.pdf) I set to work to reacquaint myself with the new cyanotype process. I mixed up a new batch of sensitizer. I decided to try Fabriano Artistico Extra White hot pressed for the paper, but it turns out to have an alkaline buffer. I acidified it with 10% sulfamic acid and tried again. I decided to use one of my favorite 8x10 pinhole negatives. I found the exposure that resulted in the first two steps of the step tablet reading the same. For the first batch of prints I used 10% sulfamic acid for the first bath. The highlights were dark, indicating that the process has a longer tonal scale than my negative. I tried again with varying amounts of potassium dichromate in the sensitizer for contrast control. This print used 12 drops of 1% potassium dichromate.

Then, dismayed by the amount of sulfamic acid required for the first bath for the first few prints, I took Mike Ware's advice and looked for a mineral acid. It turns out that the local hardware store sells muriatic acid (31.45% hydrochloric acid) for $8.99 per gallon, and it can be diluted to 1% for the first bath. Cost effective. So here it is.

September 2012, Cumberland, Wisconsin
8x10 - f250 (100 mm, .400 mm aperture)
Efke PL-100 film
Fabriano Artistico Extra White hot press
acidified in 10% sulfamic acid
12 drops of 1% potassium dichromate added to 3 ml of new cyanotype sensitizer
1% HCl first bath
washed in distilled water (no tap water used)

1689

JoeVanCleave
02-08-2014, 10:55 PM
That's wonderful, Earl. I'm looking forward to watching your progress with this new process. Please keep posting more.

I've seen example images of cyanotypes toned in tea (I think) where the image looses its blue hue and takes on a much warmer tone. That kind of a process would interest me.

Keep up the good work.

~Joe

earlj
02-09-2014, 11:03 AM
This is the finest cyanotype that I have made. It encourages me to embrace the blue - to add this process to my choices of expressive media with which to render my images as physical objects.

I have never been impressed with toned cyanotypes - the toning agent stains the paper and the tonal range of the original is reduced by toning. If I want a black or brown print, my time and efforts are much better served by working in van dyke, salted paper, argyrotype, or pt-pd. Despite its seeming simplicity (with plain water development) the process of creating a fine cyanotype requires a similar level of technique and attention to detail to any other 'alternative' photographic printing process.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it . . . . .

banana_legs
02-09-2014, 02:31 PM
Earl,

This is rather super. I too think cyanotype is under exploited. I have a bottle of Mike Ware's formula, but I have yet to have good success as all my papers are heavily buffered. I may break out the acid and try again after your inspiring image.

Best regards,

Evan

earlj
02-10-2014, 05:57 AM
Evan - I chose sulfamic acid for acidifying the sheets based on some posts to the alt-process list that indicated good success with a range of processes. I have sulfamic acid on hand for mixing up Mike Ware's argyrotype sensitizer (my favorite iron/silver process). I found 5 lb on ebay for $29.99, which is cheaper than the grout cleaner at the home improvement store. At 10% (w/v) the bubbles stop after 30 minutes. I think that I will treat just about every paper I use for new cyanotype, argyrotype, and salted paper, as these processes are all very sensitive to paper chemistry.

Ned.Lewis
02-10-2014, 11:21 AM
Earl, is there a reason sulfamic acid is preferable to acetic or citric acids? The cyanotype looks like it goes all the way from dense dark to nice highlights, well done!

earlj
02-10-2014, 02:44 PM
Thanks, Ned. I am not sure about the chemistry of removing the alkaline buffering agents. I used sulfamic acid because that is what I have on hand. People on the alt process list report good success with many different acids for this purpose.

The first bath for the exposed print is a different story. I ran out of sulfamic acid, and tried citric acid for this bath, and the results were not good. The print was weaker - the dmax was much better with both the sulfamic acid and the hydrochloric acid. I know that sulfamic acid is an iron chelating agent, and that it is used in coffee pot cleaners for that reason. I think that it is better at washing out the unexposed iron salts. Mike Ware recommends nitric acid at 0.25% - 1% v/v for the first bath.

A quote from Cyanomicon by Mike Ware, page 164: "If there are safety objections to using nitric acid, then 0.25% - 1% v/v hydrochloric acid may be used. If there are safety objections to this, then 5% - 10% w/v sufamic acid could be used, or as a last resort, 1% - 5% w/v citric acid. Acetic acid is not recommended because it tends to form insoluble coloured basic ferric acetate."

I got great results using both sulfamic acid and hydrochloric acid. I will continue to use the latter, as it is considerably less costly. I will continue to look for a source for nitric acid, as it may be even less costly than HCl.

Ned.Lewis
02-10-2014, 06:37 PM
Thanks, yes, I was thinking of acidifying the paper initially. I did not get a successful calotype until I acidified my paper. I used diluted vinegar, but I read of others using citric or sulfamic acid. When I saw you used sulfamic it caught my attention. It all seems a bit mysterious.

It makes sense that the acid in your first bath after exposure matters a lot. It's interesting how many choices can work!
There is an iron-based variant of the calotype method I'm using, and that will someday be my first foray into all this...

earlj
02-11-2014, 03:39 PM
Here's a very interesting discussion from APUG: http://www.apug.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-118153.html. It looks like sulfamic acid may be the best choice for acidification of alkaline buffers in art paper.

Ned.Lewis
02-12-2014, 03:44 PM
Earl, thank you that was very interesting to read. I will get sulfamic acid when I make my next order. These processes take enough effort and have so many stumbling points, it is worth attending to details to improve the chance of success!

earlj
02-12-2014, 05:27 PM
Ned - sulfamic acid is available in the floor tile section at Home Depot in 1 lb containers for about $6.50. It is used as a grout cleaner. I bought a 5 lb plastic bag of it on ebay for $29.99.

adam919
03-09-2014, 10:21 AM
I acidified it with 10% sulfamic acid and tried again.

1689

Nice pinhole & print!
Did you soak the paper in the sulfamic acid or did you coat the paper with the sulfamic acid?
I'm a beginner in cyanotype & find the soaking hard to do for bigger paper sizes, so a coating would be easier!

regards,

Adam

earlj
03-09-2014, 03:26 PM
Nice pinhole & print!
Did you soak the paper in the sulfamic acid or did you coat the paper with the sulfamic acid?
I'm a beginner in cyanotype & find the soaking hard to do for bigger paper sizes, so a coating would be easier!

regards,

Adam

Adam:

Thank you for your kind comments. I think that the paper must be soaked in sulfamic acid in order to render it buffer-free. My 11x15 sheets soak in 2 liters in a tray that is ostensibly 11x14, but the prints fit. It takes 20-25 minutes of total immersion before the bubbles stop. I doubt that you could achieve this with brushing.

Note, though, that I am working with Mike Ware's new cyanotype formula, which is very sensitive to paper chemistry. Traditional cyanotype (Sir John Herschel's recipe) is not as emotional about the paper that it finds itself interacting with.

Cyanotype also works well with cotton and linen as well as paper.

Good luck, and don't hesitate to pm me with any questions that you might have.

Earl

adam919
03-10-2014, 05:30 AM
Thanks for the reply earl!

At the moment i'm working with the traditional recipe, and have made some ok prints, but still searching to get some more out of the total process, getting some control over it. I'ts my first wet process experience!

regards,

Adam

Ned.Lewis
03-14-2014, 12:21 AM
I went to a local hardware store and found some "dry acid" cleaner that contained sulfamic acid, but the container did not list whether it also contained other ingredients so I held off... will try home depot eventually. Still have a supply of paper acidified in vinegar... I soaked my paper in vinegar 1:2 with distilled water for 2 hours followed by a 1 hour wash. But I'm working with a different process so don't follow me!

earlj
03-14-2014, 09:23 PM
This brand seems easy to find around here:
http://www.essentialhardware.com/product_detail.php?pid=112110&gdftrk=gdfV28536_a_7c3119_a_7c11872_a_7c112110&gclid=CK7Hwaawk70CFa9cMgodDHoAQg

Ned.Lewis
03-15-2014, 09:20 PM
Thanks Earl, now I know what I'm looking for. The one I saw was in a green box and I couldn't tell if it was only sulfamic.
We just arrived on Maui so will look when we get home :)

earlj
03-16-2014, 01:26 PM
Thanks Earl, now I know what I'm looking for. The one I saw was in a green box and I couldn't tell if it was only sulfamic.
We just arrived on Maui so will look when we get home :)

Did you bring a pinhole camera?

Ned.Lewis
03-17-2014, 02:28 AM
I'm sorry to report I didn't bring one. I thought about it and thought about it and finally decided not to try to take them through airport security. Mine all use paper negatives or instant film... they look "suspicious" and I don't know about instant film and airport scanners. Of course I've seen all sorts of wonderful pinhole shots already and this is only our first full day here! My wife and daughter are putting up with hearing me say "I wish I'd brought a pinhole camera, look at that tree!!! ".

This has made me realize that I need to build some regular film pinhole cameras! :)

Ned.Lewis
03-24-2014, 12:42 AM
Home now and did bring back some Hawaiian alaea salt to try salt printing with :D

Doug K
04-30-2014, 09:39 PM
Earl, nice print, and nice photo! You got a great tonal range. I did my first cyanotypes with Mike Ware's process, and it was from using his process that I taught myself to acidify the first bath in the developing. I've never acidified my paper, but it's something I should look at after looking at your results. My top two papers for cyanotype are Twinrocker and Stonehenge. Stonehenge is inexpensive, and works well, but man, that Twinrocker hot press is pretty phenomenal. I just bought some 22 x 30 for some upcoming prints.

Funny thing though is I decided to try out the old process. I wasn't dissatisfied with the new process, but just thought I'd try it out, and I like it a lot, and I like the color of blue I get with it. It just works with my style of printing. I'm sure I'll continue doing both, but I can't really argue with the results I'm getting with the old process, especially with an acidified first developing bath.

I agree with you mostly with regards to toning. The staining of the paper is annoying. I found that I have less with using tannin, and I've made a few prints that I really like with it. My best efforts have been with a split-tone or duotone effect. But, the reason I do the process is for the blue.

My main limitation currently is lack of a UV light source besides the sun, but I'm working on that, and I'm almost done with my UV LED light version 2. Something about being married and having things to do seems to slow me down in my process. That and brewing beer seems to take a lot of my time... I've also not felt the creative urge a lot lately. I hope that's not a sign of change in me as I age, but just a passing phase.

Thanks for posting the document. I hadn't seen that before, and I'm looking forward to reading it. Mike Ware certainly has provide a great resource for the world, that's for sure!

jon.oman
05-14-2014, 09:00 PM
Earl, I have a question about mixing up a working solution of the sulfamic acid. How is it done? I'm rather ignorant about percent of solution, etc. Could you tell me how many ounces of the crystals you would use for one gallon of tap water? Or, maybe how many tablespoons (or cups?) per gallon. I can always get cheap kitchen measures, but maybe not a weight scale.

Thanks for the information!

Tom Persinger
05-15-2014, 07:51 AM
Hi Jon - when I use sulphamic to acidify paper (and my process may deviate from Earl's and/or others) I use a 10% solution [10g sulfamic acid to 100ml water, for a gallon (3785.xx ml) add 378g sulphamic], soak the paper in the solution (wear gloves!) for 20 minutes. I immediately follow that with a 20min rinse in running water. Hang to dry...

jon.oman
05-15-2014, 01:37 PM
Hi Jon - when I use sulphamic to acidify paper (and my process may deviate from Earl's and/or others) I use a 10% solution [10g sulfamic acid to 100ml water, for a gallon (3785.xx ml) add 378g sulphamic], soak the paper in the solution (wear gloves!) for 20 minutes. I immediately follow that with a 20min rinse in running water. Hang to dry...

Thanks for the information Tom. I guess the one pound container that I bought will not go far! I'll have to get some more. I have 10 sheets of 140lb Lana Aquarelle 11x15 inch paper that I need to treat. Hopefully a gallon of working solution will be able to treat all of them....

Tom Persinger
05-16-2014, 09:52 AM
Hi Jon - if you can get them into a 12x16" tray you should be able to acidify them with a lot less than a gallon, probably closer to 1500ml-2000ml. (also, no need to do one at at time. I routinely put several sheets into the acid bath at once and periodically shuffle them...) Good luck!

jon.oman
05-16-2014, 02:17 PM
Hi Jon - if you can get them into a 12x16" tray you should be able to acidify them with a lot less than a gallon, probably closer to 1500ml-2000ml. (also, no need to do one at at time. I routinely put several sheets into the acid bath at once and periodically shuffle them...) Good luck!

Good to know!

earlj
05-17-2014, 01:22 PM
I acidify 8 11x15 sheets at a time in a 11x14 or 12x16 tray. I mix up 2 liters of 10% sulfamic acid solution (5 tablespoons is 107.5 grams, so 10 tablespoons for 2 liters). Fabriano Artistico Extra White takes about 30 minutes for the bubbles to stop - I rotate the sheets through the solution by pulling the bottom one up to the top from time to time. I wash the sheets in distilled water, but I could probably hang them up to dry straight out of the acid bath. I discard the sulfamic acid each time. I found a source on ebay for 5 lb of sulfamic acid, but the hardware store stuff works just fine.

Doug - I have been distracted for awhile trying to get the rest of my studio constructed (digital studio and soap making space), so I have not been in the wet darkroom for awhile. I plan to try printing the same image with both Mike Ware's chemistry and Sir John Herschel's chemistry and compare the results. I like the longer tonal scale of Ware's juice - I get seventeen or eighteen steps on a step wedge, while the traditional mix only gives me 8 or 9. I think that there is a lot more room for good midtone and highlight separation with the Ware chemistry.

jon.oman
05-17-2014, 02:54 PM
I acidify 8 11x15 sheets at a time in a 11x14 or 12x16 tray. I mix up 2 liters of 10% sulfamic acid solution (5 tablespoons is 107.5 grams, so 10 tablespoons for 2 liters). Fabriano Artistico Extra White takes about 30 minutes for the bubbles to stop - I rotate the sheets through the solution by pulling the bottom one up to the top from time to time. I wash the sheets in distilled water, but I could probably hang them up to dry straight out of the acid bath. I discard the sulfamic acid each time. I found a source on ebay for 5 lb of sulfamic acid, but the hardware store stuff works just fine.



Thanks Earl, I do better with tablespoons!

earlj
07-14-2014, 04:13 PM
I was just notified that this print was accepted to move on to Phase 2 of the jury process for the Fine Arts Exhibition at the 2014 Minnesota State Fair. This is a very competitive show - each artist is only allowed to submit one work, and less than 10% of the entries make the cut. Phase one was judging of electronic files. Phase two requires the framed print. I am hopeful that my print will be hung, as the print in the hand is much better than the scan on the screen.

Ned.Lewis
07-14-2014, 07:59 PM
Congratulations and I hope it makes it all then way then wins a very appropriate blue ribbon!

earlj
07-30-2014, 03:55 PM
My print passed phase 2, and has been accepted to hang in the Minnesota State Fair art exhibition.

jon.oman
07-31-2014, 09:15 AM
Congratulations!

scheimfluger_77
08-22-2014, 07:30 PM
Congratulations Earl!

Isis
08-27-2014, 11:04 PM
Wonderful.

Doug K
09-09-2014, 09:19 PM
Well done, Earl!

I'm going to have to make up some of Mike Ware's new process, and do some side by side testing myself. 9 steps versus 17 is definitely quite a difference. I do think that the initial citric acid bath on developing the traditional formula helps with the mid tones, and the tonal range, but that's just subjective. I do have a couple of step wedges around, so I'll test it. My test with vinegar didn't go so well. Cleared out the whites well, but also any mid tones that could be found. Seemed to multiply the limitations of the traditional process rather than improve it.

I was just checking my paper inventory, and I have a good stash of Fabriano Artistico that I didn't like as much for cyanotypes. I'm going to have to try the acidification with Sulfamic acid. Again, Twinrocker hot press has been my favorite for cyanotypes, with Stonehenge a close second. I like Stonehenge for playing since it's so inexpensive, and it really does do an acceptable job.

earlj
09-10-2014, 10:16 AM
Good luck, Doug. The new cyanotype formula is not difficult to mix up yourself if you have the ingredients. I think that you will be pleased with the results. Do acidify any paper that you use with the Ware formula with sulfamic acid - the Ware formula is much more sensitive to paper chemistry than the traditional.

Doug K
09-10-2014, 09:19 PM
You know, Earl, when I first used Fabriano Artistico, it was with Ware's formula, and I didn't acidify it. I will have to try it again with the traditional process as well. I do like both formulas, I've just never had them around together at the same time. I think I'll make some Ware's this weekend and give it a shot.

Also just noticed your pinhole was shot with EFKE, which was perhaps my favorite film. Especially the ISO 25 in low light with long exposures. So sad to see that suddenly disappear. At least I have a small stash in the freezer of both 4x5 and 120.

Doug K
09-14-2014, 03:23 PM
I've mixed up some of Mike Ware's formula, and I had forgotten how finicky it is about paper etc. I did a test print to make sure that it indeed was working, and ended up with a horrible yellow fog on the print that would not clear out. Mike Ware says this is due to "impurities" in the paper. What I've found is it's due to the pH of the paper. I had treated some paper with sulfamic acid, so used that, and I acidified the formula with citric acid, which I didn't do with the first print. I also did a test with acidified emulsion with untreated paper, and got the same yellow fog. The paper that got treated with sulfamic made a nice, if a bit over exposed (my fault) print. Definitely more range on the print, and less washing out of blue during development. Anyhow, the two pieces were cut from the same sheet, so it's definitely due to the pH and whatever they are using to buffer the paper. The fogging issue is something I haven't had any problem with using the traditional formula.

In the past I've said how much I like Twinrocker paper for cyanotypes, and I think it's partly due to the pH of the paper. I haven't tested it, but my anecdotal impression when treating it with sulfamic is that it bubbled less than Stonehenge paper. I've never had an issue with yellow fogging with the old formula, so it's just one of those finicky things that one has to deal with when using Ware's formula. I've not printed on Twinrocker with the new formula yet, but I will be interested to try both acid treated paper, and untreated paper.

Anyhow, still tweaking my process. I will try to print out some using the new and old process with the same negative, and post them here for comparison.