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 .

1 comment:

Doug Wade said...

Very cool! Mike Ware by all accounts is a great guy!