Sunday, 30 September 2007

Meet up with Mike Ware (inventor of the cyanotype II process)

Mike kindly invited me over for lunch with his wife at his lovely house in Buxton. The drive to the peak district was quite special. Mike and his wife were very hospitable and it was a real pleasure to meet such a kind and generous man.

An expert in all things related to alternative processes and their conservation, Mike has written extensively about many alternative processes including my favourite the ‘Cyanotype II’ process which he invented. Mike has also devised a ‘Platinum/Palladium II’ process that attempts to address some of the shortcomings of the original process. ( For full details of this and any other related processes visit his website at

We spent a good few hours looking through his own wonderful collection of prints that he has produced over the last 25 years. Including Cyanotype II, Argyrotypes, Platinum/Palladium II and his latest Gold prints. The above image is one of Mike’s Cyanotypes and was taken on a visit in Sicily in 1989 (10x8 print). Having seen the print in real life I must say it is one of the most luminous prints I have seen, it simply glows.

He also has a stunning collection of prints on the walls around the house that friends have given him over the years, some truly stunning platinum/palladium prints by Pradip Malde . Another highlight was a print by father and son team the ‘Caffels’ at (studio 31) who specialise in printing some of the most beautiful prints one will ever see.

Coming from a chemistry background Mike initially looks at alternative processes from a different angle to myself which is really very interesting. At the moment I am strictly interested in the aesthetic appeal of alternative processes, Mike also has this passion but goes a lot deeper into how various chemicals react with each other and how alternative processes can be improved/modified as well as their conservation.

I am not sure but I believe Kenro Izu uses Mikes formula for his cyanotype over platinum prints ( Bostick and Sullivan have posted one of Izu’s Cyanotype images next to where they sell the Cyanotype II sensitizer ). I have tried to arrange for him to see some of Izus Cyanotype over platinum prints at the Howard Greenberg gallery in New York next time Mike is over there as I was amazed the first time I saw them, truly breathtaking work. I look forward to hearing his reaction to the prints.

All in all it was a very special day for me to finally meet the man who inadvertently helped me, through the invention of the Cyanotype II process, to discover how wonderful and challenging in equal measures alternative photographic processes can be .

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Arches Platine & Cyanotype

Spent another day printing although this time just in cyanotype, i am really enjoying printing with Arches Platine as the luminosity of the final print is quite special if you get the negative right. People have told me that Fabriano Artistico Bright white is also an excellent paper to try with both cyanotype and platinum, although it requires a pre soak of 4% oxalic acid to take away the alkaline which a lot of these watercolour papers seem to have these days. Quite a productive day, a few prints might be 'keepers' but will wait for the dry down tomorrow before 'counting chickens'.

I was finally able to successfully print my largest contact print too, below shows the print hang drying. The full sheet is 20x16 and the actual print size is 11x14. Some slight solarisation around the edges although it does not show to much.

The paper i used to use for all my cyanotype prints (Fabriano Rospina) became very difficult to coat large sheets using a glass rod as the sensitizer was absorbed to quickly. With the Arches Platine I am usually able to coat successfully with a 17” glass rod as the surface is very smooth and is not absorbed as quickly which is great news as i have wanted to print larger prints for a while now.

Cyanotype over Platinum (First results)

I was able to get the pre sized Platinum print to register with the cyanotype negative, with quite a bit of masking tape i might add!! The above scan shows the result. The Cyanotype layer i think is too strong and needs to be more subtle so i think i will half the exposure time on next few prints either that or adjust the cyanotype negative, not sure which approach to take yet but will try something. I really want to keep some of the luminosity of the platinum layer.

Below is the first result uncropped which shows my rather clumsy methods! :)

Friday, 28 September 2007

Ahh Registration!!

Turns out the registration was about 1mm out on the print without the pre size (see above image), the pre sized print was out by about 1/2mm, although the later appers more blochy in the highlights. I believe a registration difference even this small might make cause the final print to lose sharpness and i would prefer not to if at all possible.

On the plus side the inadvertant change to dye based inks to print the platinum negative has resulted in a much more luminous print than the print made with the pigment ink negative. Having looked on the net it has been suggested that the 'pre size' soak should be in warm water (125f) for an hour, as opposed to the 5 mins i gave it last night. I have now done this and will try printing another platinum print to see if it will register on the cyanotype negative.

New Cyanotype over Platinum print

Spent all day calibrating as i want to see how a cyanotype over platinum looks, cant afford one of Kenro's yet, I think they start at $3500!

Its going to require some sort of registration which could be problamatic for me as i have never done it before. The above image shows some of the calibration prints i did to see how the two prints will come together. One had a sizing bath before exposure the other one did not.

I will be printing the cyanotype over the top tommorow once they are dry and completly flat.I just hope the paper has not shrunk as my cyanotype registation negative will be out!

Below is a how i want the end print to look like (its a scan of the platinum and i added a blue filter in PS to see) Will post the results tommorow if i can get the cyanotype negative to register.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Alternative Photographic Processes Event (New York)

I stumbled across this event that is taking place from September 29 to November 4, 2007 in New York. There are both traditional and hybrid artists being represented at the event.

Unfortunately I cant make it but there was some interesting and inspirational work in the catolgue which you can download from the site. Some of the wet collodion portraits but Michael Mazzeo looked pretty special(Shown Below).

The web address is Alternative Photographic Processes Event

Godess 3 (Mazzeo, Michael)

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Another 'Wet Plate Collodion' Video

I have been recently looking at 'Wet Plate Collodion' and came across another video on the process. I really love the way these glass plates look when finished and would like to try this process at some stage. Finding the chemicals for this process looks quite challenging but i think it should be possible here in the U.K. What does concern me is the safety aspects of the process. I believe Collodion is very flammable and Amonia is also used in the process. Once i find out more information about costs and the like i will post it. I know Kerik from is doing a workshop next year in Scotland on 'Wet Plate' it would be good if he could come down south for another workshop.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Cambridge Meet Up

A couple of weeks ago a few of us from the Analogue Photographers User Group ( met up at my house for the day. I have only just got around to writing about the day which I thought was not only good fun but it was very interesting to see different types of alternative photographic prints. All the work was to a very high standard.

A few examples of the work are included below

Platinum Prints By Ian Leake (

The subtlety of these platinum prints was very special indeed and something I have only experienced once before whilst looking at a portfolio of Sally Mann’s platinum work. They really have to be seen in person without glass in front of them to fully appreciate their beauty.

Kalitype by Phill dresser

A good time was had by all and I look forward to future meet ups!

Monday, 10 September 2007

Interesting videos on Kenro Izu’s Platinum work

Having been a fan of Kenro Izu’s work for a long time its great to finally find some videos about his work and the way he processes his prints. I stumbled across these videos whilst looking for information on printing Cyanotype over platinum which he has done in the past and are stunning, a process i would like to try in the next couple of weeks. The above image shows an example of one such print of Izu's.

There are two videos at :

Direct links are :

One brief one on his work :

And one on the way he processes his prints. : (love the way he dumps his developer on the print )

Although these small videos they are a nice insight into this master photographer and printers work.

(You need QuickTime or Realplayer installed to watch.)

There is a longer text file of the interview at :

Thursday, 6 September 2007

After the slight problems with mottling on the polymer photogravure plates I decided to redirect my time to calbirating for Platinum and Palladium over the last 3 days. I Intend to pick up the gravure process again in the coming weeks but I am waiting for a shippment of 'Kreene' which might solve the contact problems we are having with the vaccum frame and the plate.
The print above is an image i took last week of this rather unusual sunflower i found. Printed Using a 1:1 mix of Platinum and Palladium. More to follow.