On Cyanotype, PDN and Platine paper: what I have learned

From: Maro Vandorou ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 06/10/05-12:23:16 PM Z
Message-id: <20050610182322.3E53369FE5C@spamf3.usask.ca>

Greetings to the group

My name is Maro Vandorou and I live in Portland Oregon; So here I am I am
formally joining the group and I would like to add a few thoughts to
Christine's regarding Cyanotype, PDN and Platine paper.

I am not new to the world of digital negatives. Coming from a background of
user interface design, I fell in love irrevocably with all these wonderful
historical processes; for me it was a question of beauty and aesthetics the
way the image becomes one with the paper, and the choice of the right kind
of paper has been of paramount importance for me.

Several weeks ago I started testing Mark's PDN system and given the
deceptive simplicity and accessibility of cyanotype I decided to calibrate
my system with this process. I have an Epson 2200, I use Pictorico film, and
I have UV light exposure unit with 10 GE Black lights. Until I got in synch
with Chris I was single coating, 1:1 ratio the classical formula, but I have
now switched to single coating 2:1. I use a 2" hake brush for coating.

Having used and tested Fabriano Artistico Hot Press for Van Dykes very
successfully, I started with this paper. And my frustration started as well.
Here are the things that I have learned through this exasperating process (I
still wonder what on earth kept me going, as I do not wish to think how much
time, effort, money was spent on Pictorico, Fabriano and Epson inks.)

        -The right paper for the process is of paramount importance and that
can not be overestimated. I tried Fabriano, Windsor Newton Hot and Cold
Press, I tried Stonehedge, I tried Coventry rag, I tried Strathmore 500
series single ply. Nothing seemed to be working as it could, should, I
hoped, desired etc. The major problem was that while the paper was drying
(always air dry in a dark place) mysterious blue streaks, or dots, or other
artifacts would materialize on the surface of the paper. If I nonetheless
insisted and exposed the coated paper, the results were unpredictable, with
stains showing through and with the highlights having an unhealthy grayish,
ash color (sometimes).

        - Even if Fabriano does not act up and you get a beautiful deep blue
and you start going through the steps of deriving a curve and applying to
the Tonal Palette, etc, the lack of reliability of the paper makes the whole
effort a waste of time and resources.

        - At the beginning of the week at Mark's and Chris's recommendation
I borrowed 2 sheets of Arches Platine from a friend and I started testing
again, one more time with feeling. I COULD NOT BELIEVE THE DIFFERENCE. I
thought I was dreaming; Beautiful tones, smooth, wonderful transitions in
tonality. My excitement could not be contained (and cyanotype was not my
favorite process, by who knows now.) By Thursday I had 3 generations of
curves, fine tuning them with wonderful consistency. For me, if I am to do
any work with Cyanotype, it will be on Arches Platine, and Kinsella has it
at slightly lower price than Daniel Smith.

        - Strict control of all variables is also a must when trying to
calibrate the system for a specific process. I fine tuned my workflow and I
coat only the amount of paper I anticipate to need for the next round of
iterative testing, I let it air dry in a dark place for 45 minutes, I expose
at my derived Standard Printing Time (identical to Chris's even though I
might be overexposing a bit), I wash face down for 15 minutes and let it
dry. If I am really, truly impatient then I dip it in water with a few drops
or peroxide and wash again.

That's it for now, I finally came out of the closet to join you


-----Original Message-----
From: Christina Z. Anderson [mailto:zphoto@bellsouth.net]
Sent: Friday, June 10, 2005 7:17 AM
To: alt-photo-process-l@sask.usask.ca
Subject: Re: what I've learned about cyanotype thru PDN


I wish you would buy just one sheet of Platine from D. Smith--it's about
$4.70 for a 22x30, which is not out of sight.

 Because this is my question: with the right paper, and the right curve,
why would you need to double coat? A lot of that namby pamby grey blue
washed out look I see with cyanotype I wonder is because of paper choice and

not using a proper curve, not because of single or double coating.

My deepest blue on Platine doesn't need to get any darker, but maybe I'm
just looking for what I might term a "convincing" dark blue and not the
darkest one available. I am by no means a cyano expert, only desiring to
get a proper curve for it for tricolor gum.

I suppose we could not answer that question unless we all brought prints to
APIS (which I will) and compare.

But I am so thrilled you did these tests and posted them online!!
PS when I print on Platine, in case you do, I print on the smoother side,
which may even be the back...one side is a tad more textured.

----- Original Message -----
From: "ryberg" <cryberg@comcast.net>
To: <alt-photo-process-l@sask.usask.ca>
Sent: Sunday, June 05, 2005 7:37 PM
Subject: Re: what I've learned about cyanotype thru PDN

> I've always used cyanotype at 1:1 and always double coated. These
> recent comments led me to test single coating and the 2:1 ratio. I have
> concluded that though each of the four posibilities would require its own
> curve (my tests were all done with a curve I made for 1:1 double coating)
> each would probably make excellent prints.
> I'm going to do a new curve for 1:1 single coating and will let you
> know
> of my results.
> You can view the test I did here
> http://home.comcast.net/~cryberg/index.html
> WARNING I know even less about HTML than I do about alt photography so
> this page is not yet optomized for speed. If you have a dial-up
> connection
> it probably will be too slow for you, though I would appreciate it if
> someone would tell me how slow it is--not to the second how much of the
> page
> loaded in the first minute or some such comment.
> Charles Portland Or
Received on Fri Jun 10 12:23:32 2005

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