Re: Blue-Black Cyanotype & Luster

From: Judy Seigel ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 10/06/05-02:11:04 PM Z
Message-id: <>

On Wed, 5 Oct 2005, Kai Hamann wrote:

>> Completely bleach blue print in 2 grams silver nitrate dissolved in 1
>> liter water, which takes about 25 min. Wash print until all soluble
>> silver-salt is removed, then redevelop in an oxalate of iron developer.
>> (that's probably why I didn't try it, didn't have the developer.) "The
>> print comes out black and resembles a platinum print." (!!!)
> This should work if one can trust Eder -- I do :-) According to him this
> is the W. Lagrange method which he dates to 1887 (only difference is
> that the quoted concentration of the silver nitrate is 1% to 2%). A
> related footnote in my 1929 Eder IV/4 says "Photogr. Wochenblatt 1887 --
> The Lagrange method was later often reprinted without naming the
> original source (e.g. Phot. Korresp. 1897, p. 506 and Phot. News. 1897,
> p. 206). Lumi�re et Jougla-Agenda 1924."

Eder was mostly over my head (the chemistry book, not the "History" which
was names & dates). So of course it's a compliment, not to mention
a RELIEF, to be OK'd by a fellow who not only parses Eder, but seems to
have the footnotes in memory! Thanks, Kai.

Cyanotype was my first love in "non-silver," that it was so cheap & easy,
almost foolproof (except if you get artsy with buffered paper), and so
grass roots -- that travellers printed their pictures on letters home,
that souvenir postcards of folks at a party on the front steps for a group
portrait were still available for a dollar and still bright blue, and that
it was IMO insufficiently appreciated by modern "histories," was

At the time, circa 1979, tho there were a few new manuals out, I didn't
know about them. Fortunately perhaps, because I worked my way through the
old ones -- which taught me to be skeptical, at the learning tree, so to
speak. NOTHING cited as rule, general principle, as color, as
"preservative," as "size," or much of anything else worked as stated.
ESPECIALLY toning cyano was a letdown. A rainbow of promises, but only
tannic acid (and maybe, marginally lead) had a lasting effect, and NONE of
them "solid red."

So I began sporadic systematic testing. (Made possible by the 21-step,
introduced by The Man Who Knew Everything and You Know Who You Are (see p.
37, P-F #1). And I interrupt this memoir to say folks who think they can
learn a process by "asking the list," make a mistake. The list is a
collective genius for specific info, but if you don't get a few 21-steps
and test your own materials, you print, at best, on auto pilot.

Of course when Keepers of Light arrived, I rushed to the toning cyanotype
section, and found that nonsense about a "solid red" toner spoiled when
"highlights" turn yellow a week later. Bad enough, but we make allowances
for the pioneer. Then in 2001 Focal Press published "Photographic
Possibilities" by Robert Hirsch and John Valentino which copied this
nonsense word for word, then ELABORATED it with worse nonsense, -- the
kind of temperature specs only an SG printer could dream up.

So I spent too many hours of my remaining time on earth ringing the
variables, probably 2000 words (P-F #7, page 36 ff). In sum, in this
formula, the shortest possible time in the sodium carb & no wash between
baths, contrary to my previous advice & experience, gives the best tone &
little or no paper stain. But never "redder" than the back of my hand.

The part about "yellow" is probably how some long-dead photographer who
worked only on weekends described the degraded whites found when he (I
assume "he") saw the print *dry* a week later... I never found the
original "source," tho there were a lot of early photo newspapers I never
saw. The reference might be in KOL -- but not footnoted, just a general
bibliography, thanks a lot.

Which led to my (p. 38 P-F #7) diatribe about not reprinting a formula you
haven't tried, UNLESS YOU STATE THAT FACT (a rule written retroactively,
which I don't THINK I've transgressed...)

> BTW: PF (esp. issue 5 and the "on toning Cyanotypes" article in issue 7)
> is a wonderful source for cyanotypers and I sometimes start the day
> reading in them and looking for sub-clauses with hidden information.
> It�s very unfortunate that you stopped issuing PF but may it be as it
> is. Just my 2c.

Thanks again Kai -- but think of all the rest of the diatribe-deprived who
need me.


Received on Thu Oct 6 14:11:39 2005

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