After defining the correction curve we finally got to make some cyanotype prints from digital negatives. The chemistry was the classic cyanotype, and the negatives were made with an Epson R1800 on Agfa CopyJet transparency. We printed mainly on Somerset 200g paper using the sensitizer as single coating.

This is how our basic cyanotype print from a digital negative looks on Somerset paper.

You can also tone cyanotypes to different shades of brown, reddish or black (neutral gray). There is a wide selection of toning formulas in Christopher James’ Book of Alternative Photographic Processes, for example. We toned a few prints with a well-known two-bath brown toner, made up of tannic acid and sodium carbonate (washing soda).

A cyanotype toned with tannic acid / sodium carbonate method. In this print the brush strokes were masked away with red masking tape attached to the negative. (BTW, I guess this picture of an old tree is gradually becoming my “standard” image, printed with different techniques for comparison…)

The tannic acid toner also can produce some nice split tone effects.

But you can use cyanotype for other things besides just printing photographs – actually the early pioneers, Sir John Herschel and Anna Atkins, used it for copying drawings and making photograms, too. You can also combine it with other techniques. As an example of a way a printmaker may use cyanotype, see Pirkko’s work below. Many of these were made with sensitizing and processing the paper multiple times, exposing image elements separately each time, and combining with other printmaking techniques. Clicking on images will open them larger in a separate window.

Pirkko Holm: Map 2, multiple coated cyanotype.

Pirkko Holm: Under The Water, multiple coated cyanotype.

Pirkko Holm: The Travel, multiple coated cyanotype and etching.

Pirkko Holm: The Blue Swan, polymer gravure and toned cyanotype.