I tried some Cyanotype (and I liked it)...

One of the easiest alternative printing processes is the Cyanotype process. It has cheap chemicals, simple formulas and easy steps. I've tried Platinum, Palladium and Kallitype processes so it's rather surprising (and silly) that I've not tried Cyanotype printing to date.


Well I've now changed that. Using a premixed solution and a foam brush I coated some ropey Arches Platine paper and got to work. A quick test strip showed an exposure of 2' 30" with my 4 tube tanning unit gave the best "blacks". I selected a number of reasonably high contrast 4x5 negatives and set about printing.

Cyanotype (untoned)

After posting my first attempts on Twitter a bunch of comments followed suggesting some toning techniques. I wasn't aware toning Cyanotype was thing but it appears that it is. It helps with archival qualities and changing the somewhat extraordinary Prussian Blue colour to something less garish that doesn't suit a lot of subject matter. As an aside digital displays are quite unable to show the extent of the colour of Prussian Blue, it falls well outside their colour gamut. Seeing an original Cyanotype print is really quite something.


The Cyanotype process is Iron based and as such "normal" toners simply don't apply. Whilst there are commercials toners available the spirit of Cyanotype encourages "home-brew". I went with Coffee. 2 cups of extra strong espresso diluted with tap water. Before you can tone you have to "soften" the Iron compounds by bleaching it back. Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) is recommended. I had Washing powder which included bleaching agents so I gave that a whirl. The prints would smell nice even if it didn't work...


The bleaching worked, and so did the toning. 30-40 mins was required for toning.

Cyanotype (coffee)

Let me know what you think!

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