View Full Version : More on Working with Ware's New Cyanotype Process

Doug K
09-17-2014, 10:23 PM
On Earl's suggestion, and because I had all the chemicals I needed for it on hand, I mixed up a batch of Ware's "New" Cyanotype. My first foray into Cyanotypes was a Photographer's Formulary kit for the new process. I then went on to use the traditional process, and I've made some prints I'm quite happy with using it, and have learned to work with its limitations to make some interesting prints. Part of the reason I went with the new process again is because of Earl reminding me that it had a much greater range of tones than the traditional process, and I've been working on some prints for others. Normally I choose photos to print that I think would work well with my process, but I had 3 photos I wanted to do for others, and I wasn't getting good results with the traditional process. That's when Earl's suggestion lit off the UV lightbulb in my head. I did a short batch on Sunday with the new process to test things, and then on Monday I did a batch "for real". I had a couple of prints with some weird anomalies from the emulsion process. I'm not sure if I didn't mix it well enough after adding the citric acid and dichromate before coating, but they were nice, only with some funkiness in them. And the rest had a blue cast over them like the color bled during developing. Last night I thought I'd play with toning them, and had a breakthrough. I made a weak bath of Sodium Carbonate, 2 teaspoons in 3 liters of tap water, and when I put the first print in, the blue haze washed right off. So, when the print got to where I liked it, I washed it well, and did the same with the other prints. I thought I was going to have to re-work my negatives and print again this weekend, but I'm quite happy with them, and my wife says they're good enough to give to the people we intended them.

I also printed a photo I took in the redwoods of California that I've not had much success with since it has such a huge range of tones, and I lose too much when I make the negative for the process, but I keep trying because I like it since think it would make a nice print. Other than some anomalies in the emulsion, I finally got a good print. Another print I made I think will work better with the traditional process since the original photo has so little range. I will continue to use the traditional formula when I can get away with it since it's easy to use, and not very fussy, but I'll definitely be using the new formula quite a bit for more ambitious prints.

My process with Ware's formula is to acidify the paper with suflamic acid. I'm using Twinrocker hot press and Stonehenge White. I'm using 50 microliters of a 40% w/v solution citric acid in the emulsion. (I have a pipettor I inherited that delivers that amount) I've added extra dichromate for contrast, but will experiment more with that in the future. Initial development of the print is in a .5% nitric acid bath, though I think I'll switch to 1%, followed by water, then washing in a print washer. And, when needed, a sodium carbonate wash as described.

Attached is one of my new process prints.

02-19-2015, 07:43 PM
Doug -
Sorry I missed this earlier. This is a great print. It looks like your borders are considerably darker than the darkest shadow area of the print. My suggestion is to increase your exposure until the darkest dark of the print matches the border. Then, if your highlights are over-exposed, adjust with additions of more dichromate until you get bright highlights. I find that dichromate helps the white areas to clear better as well. I have different concentrations of dichromate mixed up so I can count drops and know where I am. I think that getting maximum dmax is important for any process to get the prints to really pop.

Do you have a step wedge? If not, then order one from Stouffers so you can calibrate your exposure.

Tom Persinger
02-20-2015, 11:10 AM
looks good Doug! nice print, nice range of tones, however Earl has a good point about the dark areas... keep going!

Doug K
12-30-2016, 02:26 PM
Thanks guys. I've been out of the print making business for awhile, but am embarking again with some recent photos. Looking at the print in hand, I feel like the dog's nose is close to the border in terms of darkness, though not quite all the way there. It was a bright day in New Mexico when I took the photo, so there's not a lot of shadow in the background. But still, I could have gotten a little more exposure out of it. Again, I need to finish making my UV light source to have something more consistent than the Colorado sunshine I've been using. I really appreciate the input and criticism. It helps me to have a discerning eye look at my prints, and to take all that in account. I feel like I am getting close with my cyanotype process, but I will always be tweaking to try and improve. I don't know that I'll ever get "there", but at least I'll be close with your help.

As a footnote, the other prints I made for our friend were well received. They were photos of a beloved pet that had passed away which she had taken herself. I had a lot of work to do with getting a good negative from her originals, but eventually I got there. When we gave her the prints she started crying, and I knew then I had gotten them just right. Photography for me is something very personal. Taking on a project using someone else's photos was difficult, but I'm happy with the results, but I also learned a lot from it. I wouldn't do it except for close friends, or unless I knew looking at the photo that it would work right away, but I also won't reject doing it in the future. I'd prefer taking my own photos, but obviously in this case that was hard to do. Anyhow, keep on learning!