Would You Like a Spot of Tea?

I’ve enjoyed experimenting with cyanotypes for about the past year, and I thought I would give a new technique a try.  I recently did some kallitypes, and though I love the finished result, with my tiny apartment and somewhat limited resources, I wanted to try some things that would give me a similar look, but with less chemistry.  So I began researching, and found tons of things about toned cyanotypes, and decided to give it a try.  As you can probably tell from my previous cyanotype post, I kind of had this in mind when making my last prints, and decided to make a few extra.

I started with the two above prints, and put them in a solution of mostly water, and a little bleach.  Bleach was probably the least suggested bleaching agent that I read about, since many said it would eat away at the fibers of the paper, but it’s what I had handy.  I would say my mix was about 95% water, and about 5% bleach, which in retrospect was a little light on the bleach.  However, I’d rather babysit my prints and add a little more bleach later than destroy them.

So after a long time babysitting, and adding more bleach, I finally got the prints to a tone which I was satisfied with; just a little bit of the blue left from the original cyanotype, and mostly yellow left for the rest of the emulsion.  Though it took a while, the plus side was that the quality/durability of the watercolor paper that I used didn’t suffer as a result.  After my researching, I found that different types of tea would have different effects on the bleached emulsion.  I decided to go with a mixture of mostly black tea (about 5 bags), and a little green tea (about 4 bags).  The black tea was said to make the prints take on a tone of brown/black, while the green tea was to add a tone of violet, so I thought the two would make an interesting mix.  After boiling some water and steeping the tea, I added my newly bleached prints to the warm bath.

So again with the babysitting, which I think I may have overdone a little this time.  I wanted to keep some of the highlights closer to white, but they pretty much took on the tea tone.  The emulsion, however, took on a great tone of a dark brown/black, with a little bit of the cyan, or perhaps the violet from the green tea, peeking through.  I’m happy with the results for my first go round, but I’m going to make some more prints and try it again.  Maybe no bleaching/less bleaching, or maybe another soaking bath to change it to a different tone.  Guess you’ll just have to wait and see!  Let me know what you think of the two final results!

Week 8: Long Exposure

I’ve been looking forward to this week! ¬†Long exposures are something I have dabbled with in the past, but by no means would I say I’m proficient in it. I’ve captured some successful images, like my week 1 photos for instance, but I’ve also failed miserably. ¬†This past summer I dragged my poor cousin out to the beach in the middle of the night to try to capture some night/astro pics of this old WWII watch tower in Bethany Beach, Delaware, and just ended up with a bunch of black images and a sore hand from holding the shutter button down for about a total of an hour. I’ve since then invested in a cable release (yay!), and I hope to give astrophotography another try. ¬†I remember¬†how excited I was when I first got my camera that I would be able to take pictures of the stars, but haven’t been able to get them yet. Hopefully the weather participates through this weekend so I can give it another go. If not, I have some more ideas up my sleeves. ¬†I also enjoy the play on lights with long exposures. Check out some images I snapped a two summers ago¬†on my film camera. Glad these turned out — it’s always so nerve-racking waiting to develop my film when I’ve done experiment-ie things! ¬†I don’t know what it is with the beach and long exposures, but these were all taken at Bethany Beach, DE, and the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD. ¬†Seems like when I get left alone at the beach, I get all nostalgic, and start looking for places which remind me of childhood to take pictures of. ¬†I think it worked out well. ¬†I’m glad it was a busy night for both locations, as I really enjoy all the people and objects becoming blurred over the long exposures. ¬†Enjoy!

A Cold, Red, Surprise

Ok, so I slacked a little, well a lot, on the red project for last week. ¬†I was thinking something along the lines of a Valentine’s day theme, but that really didn’t interest me. ¬†Then….a great idea struck….but I don’t have the resources to do it! ¬†I need a model, which is always tough to come by, particularly for this type of picture. ¬†I also would want to sculp something ceramic, but don’t really know where to go for that, since it’s been a million years since I’ve worked with clay. ¬†I’ll be working on it, but who knows when I’ll get a chance to do it, so maybe you’ll all get a “red” surprise some time later this year when I get a chance to do it!

So as a back up, since I ditched the v-day idea, was going to be to take pictures of some berries on this tree outside of my apartment. ¬†I’ve photographed them before, but they’re just so cute, and perfect for the red theme. ¬†Here are a few of the old pics.

It’s just the start of spring, and I think that’s why I like them so much! ¬†So, again, with out my camera handy the other day, I headed out for class (when am I going to learn my lesson?). ¬†I noticed a ton of these berries on the ground, and could hear birds chirping like crazy. ¬†As I walked down the stairs I noticed that the trees were filled with robins. ¬†So I pulled out my phone and tried to catch a few quick pics during their berry feeding frenzy. ¬†They’re not the best pictures in the world, since they were after all taken with my phone, but you get the idea! ¬†It was a nice surprise to see all these birds fluttering around, and I’m sure they were happy to find a good meal amidst¬†all of the snowy weather we’ve been having lately. ¬†Oh, and just to mention,¬†all¬†of the berries are gone now! ¬†I guess they were hungry ūüôā

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Brrrrr!!! ¬†As it snows for the millionth time this year, I thought I’d get out there and take some pics, especially since I’ve noticed too many perfect little snowflakes over the last month…..and didn’t have my camera handy. ¬†As another “winter storm warning” pops up on my phone, I’m counting the days until summer, but at least it’s pretty to look at! ¬†I’m going to try to thaw out¬†now, so enjoy ūüôā

Week 7: Red

Red. ¬†It’s the color of love and passion. ¬†The color of blood. ¬†it’s vibrant, bold, attention grabbing, and so many more things. ¬†It’s also the color that’s the focus of this week’s photo challenge. ¬†I have some cute¬†and playful ideas in mind, and assuming that this color was selected for the most recent holiday, Valentine’s day, I’m going to keep it in theme with that…sort of. ¬†So I’m going to have fun with this week, and take the added time I’ll have to focus on the business side of this week’s challenge: marketing brainstorm. ¬†I think I’ll take the approach of finishing up on a previous week’s project, in reaching out to vendors and galleries. ¬†I sent a few emails before, and to be real, it wasn’t as much as I could have done. ¬†So I’m really going to get out there, see what events are coming up, and apply! ¬†So wish me luck, and in the meanwhile, enjoy a couple of “red” images that I’ve taken in the past!

Hiding Your View

I know I know, I’m a little late in posting for the week, sorry! ¬†Anyways, in working on this “hidden from view” theme, I thought I would take this opportunity to finish up a “self-portrait” project that I begun working on a few months ago. ¬†For me, I think using a self-portrait is appropriate for a hidden theme; ¬†I really don’t like taking self portraits, or “selfies”, so when I do, they’re usually of a weird view, or only include a portion of my face. ¬†So to take it a bit deeper, much like when I meet people, it takes some time for me to really let my personality shine through and allow new people in. ¬†Not quite sure why I do it, but it can make for some pretty awkward social interactions at times, admittedly, and I’m working on not worrying about it so much. ¬†Sometimes it can be great to be the introvert, sit back, and observe people — people truly do divulge a plethora of information about themselves without even thinking about it, and I like being able to pick up on those small things. ¬†I suppose that I can be rather transparent once I start talking about ideas, thoughts, passions, and so on, so I want to make sure that I can trust the person that I’m sharing things with, instead of just volunteering everything there is to know about me right off the bat. ¬†I’m pretty complicated, to say the least, but not in a bad way. ¬†I’ve been told that there are a lot of different aspects to my personality that I don’t make known at first glance, and I don’t think keeping it that way is a bad thing. ¬†So there you have it; a partial view of me, and just a little more of my hidden insight.

Week 6: Hidden From View

Well, I have a bit of a dilemma this week. ¬†I took an image recently, and that’s all I can think of when look at a “hidden” theme. ¬†It’s like…a more naturalistic interpretation of “Where’s Waldo”. ¬†Here, you can see what I’m talking about.

So, now that’s I’ve done this picture, especially so recently, I’m at a loss. ¬†I think my problem is that in doing these weekly challenges, I may be taking things a little too literal. ¬†I think I did an ok job last week in getting away from the exact literal interpretation of a mirrored image, and that may have to be the same type of approach that I take with this week’s challenge. ¬†Well, guess I better get to the drawing board, and get thinking of some ideas!


So this week was fun, but a bit of a challenge. ¬†“Mirrored images”, to be interpreted however I chose, so I went with reflections; a literal interpretation of a mirror type image. ¬†I wanted to do something different — I had a lot of ideas, but it seemed to me that they were relatively frequently done. ¬†First I thought of doing a reflection from the surface of this little lake outside of my house. ¬†Then I thought of taking pictures of my own reflection in the mirror, but with my face doing something/looking in a different direction than the reflection. ¬†Then I thought about all of this glass I had saved from a broken table for future photo projects, and I came up with this…

Not too bad, and I like the images themselves, but the glass didn’t have the reflective quality that I thought it would. ¬†My table actually has the strongest reflection, though I do like the one piece of glass which is reflecting the stem of the rose. ¬†After messing with that, and moving pieces of glass to a million different positions on my table, adding water, and not getting any results, I had to move on. ¬†So I started thinking about pictures that I have done in the past. ¬†there were two that I had taken fairly¬†recently that kept coming to mind:

One was a picture from Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, MD, and another was from J.D. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge¬†in Florida. ¬†Both of them included water…just can’t seem to get away from that when thinking of reflections! ¬†So I started thinking of water, different elements of it, and finally it came to me — bubbles! ¬†So, even though the bubbles that I was going to make aren’t like anything that comes from water, like the foam of the ocean, that’s where my inspiration came from.

So off I went to seek the help of some more unwilling photo assistants (I’m always bugging someone for pictures ūüôā ). ¬†Out in the back yard with my “assistants”, just around sun set, I had them alternating in blowing bubbles for me. ¬†It was a lot of fun, but chasing bubbles around through my lens on a windy day was difficult to say the least! ¬†I’m happy with the shots that I got, however, and I’m glad that we did it later in the day. ¬†Some of the bubbles have that natural oily effect, but others reflect the evening light rather nicely, and the background has a natural dark, yet warm, effect. ¬†Wish I could have gotten more shots with multiple bubbles to make things a little more interesting, but I guess that’s a project for another, less windy day. ¬†Check it out!


The sun is shining away on this windy winter day, and you know what that means? ¬†Cyanotypes! ¬†I’ve been waiting for a day like this, and I’m happy to say that I’ve made good use of it.

Cyanotypes are probably some of my favorite things to do. ¬†I don’t have the accessibility to a darkroom at the moment, as well as don’t have the space for it, so it lets me feel like I’m still doing some “film” development, kinda. ¬†I was introduced to this process during the last photography class I took at school. ¬†I was auditing the class, since they didn’t offer Photography III, and the professor gave me some pretty interesting projects, one of which was alternative processes. ¬†I started off doing botanicals, and using some old book pages she had, and fell in love with it!

If you don’t know what cyanotypes are, you should look in to it! ¬†Wikipedia does a good job of explaining it, but I’ll give you the quick and dirty on my process. ¬†Cyanotype is a contact photographic process, which creates really lovely blue images. ¬†To begin, you mix an equal part of two chemicals: ammonium iron citrate and potassium ferricyanide. ¬†Yeah, cyanide. ¬†Don’t worry though, it’s not going to kill you. ¬†Though it is mildly toxic, I’ve never had any problems with it, and to be honest, I’m not particularly careful with it when using it — I’ve gotten it on my hands and constantly have my hands in the wash, and I’m still here! ¬†I use a great kit from Photographers’ Formulary, where you don’t have to do any actually mixing of chemicals, and just combine “solution a” with “solution b”. ¬†So easy.

Once you mix the chemicals, while in a darkened room¬†treat your surface to make it photosensitive. ¬†I personally use watercolor paper, and have had some great results. ¬†It has great durability, and holds on to the emulsion well once you’ve completed your print. ¬†One of my other favorite things to use are book pages, but they are much more fragile, so be careful. ¬†You can use pretty much anything, as long as it is able to absorb the chemical solution — various papers, cloth, untreated canvases — so be creative! ¬†Allow the treated surface to dry completely, I recommend even leaving it over night in a dark environment, and then you’re ready! ¬†Your dried surface is going to be a light, almost lime green color when you treat it, but no worries, it will turn blue at the end!

Like I said earlier, it’s a contact printing process, so you could do either one of two things. ¬†You can create your own negative, or for smaller prints, contact sheet style printing, or using medium format film, you can use actual negatives, and press it along with the paper between glass. ¬†To make it simple, I just take apart a picture frame, using the back and the glass, and then secure the pieces together with paperclips or binder clips. ¬†You want to make sure you have a good contact on your negative, otherwise you’ll end up with a fogged image, and lose a lot of your details. ¬†I use Inkpress Media Transparency Film to create 8 1/2x 11″ negatives, and have had great results….when I follow the directions and print on the right side of the transparency! ¬†They’re a little pricy, but super convenient in that I can just use my inkjet printer to make whatever negative I like! ¬†Make sure you prep your image before printing as well. ¬†Having strong contrast and clarity, as well as making a positive of your image through a photo editing program will ensure you get a good print. ¬†The other thing you can do it treat your surface like a photogram, and place an object directly on top of your paper to create an image. ¬†I still use glass when using objects, since¬†I use flowers, leaves, etc., and in doing so, I’ve noticed you get a better outcome.

Exposure times will vary since, well, the weather is never the same from one day to another, and the sun’s position in the sky will move as you’re making your print. ¬†I prefer to wait for a nice, clear sunny day, which keeps my exposure times anywhere from the 12-15 minute range. ¬†You can gauge your exposure times by looking at your surface while in the light. ¬†It will change from a light green, to a dark green, almost blackish tone. ¬†Once you’ve reached your desired exposure, just rinse the print in cold running water. ¬†I like to fully submerge my prints and gently agitate them prior to actually rising them. ¬†The emulsion is delicate, so if you rinse too quickly, you’re going to wash your print away ūüė¶ — so sad, I’ve totally done it. ¬†You’ll see your print develop right before your eyes, changing from that weird dark greenish hue to an intense tone of blue with white highlights. ¬†Rinse your print completely, so you don’t see any blue residue dripping from your paper and the water runs clear, and you’re finished! ¬†Just lay it flat to dry and voila, you’re a cyanotype expert.

So there you have it!  I really love this process, and am thankful that I had a professor who thought outside the box and introduced me to this.  Check out my final prints below.  I made a couple of extras, so I may try my hand at toning them to change the color.  Stay tuned!

Week 5: Mirrored Image

Well, this week has been off to a slow start. ¬†I’ve officially started my last semester in school, which is bittersweet. ¬†I’m so excited to be done, and even though I’ll only have an Associate degree, I’m happy with that. ¬†I’m also really going to miss taking classes, since, let’s be real, someone without a job, and only working with crafty things and a slowly developing photography business (no pun intended….kinda) does not have the money for a 4-year university. ¬†So my options are limited, but I’m still looking in to things, hopeful that I’ll be able to continue classes soon!

So I get to work on a mirrored image this week, and I want to do something a little out of the ordinary. ¬†Not quite sure what that is yet, but I’m working on it. ¬†I keep thinking of doing a reflection of a person, where one image has the opposite expression as the reflection, but I’m pretty sure that ideas like that have been well overdone. ¬†Maybe I’ll do something along the lines of the image below, using water or drops in a way to play off of a reflection or catch a reflection. ¬†I love how I caught this image; just as it was starting to rain and I was hanging out talking with a friend, I just stuck my hand out the window when I noticed the drops on the mirror, and there you have it. ¬†It almost looks like the drops are falling into the palm of my hand — love the result!

Business wise, I have to organize my contacts, and still (sort of) play catch up from previous weeks. ¬†Well, I suppose you could count this week’s task as done, since my list of contacts is non-existent, but perhaps I’ll be proactive in searching for vendors and contacts which I would like to use in the future. ¬†And, as a progress report, I did reach out to a few vendors last week about¬†showing my work in their shops, as well as for some juried art shows. ¬†Wish me luck! ¬†I’m hoping to hear something back soon!