Week 16: Portrait – Movement

Ah, finally, I can breathe.  Did you miss me?  Just as I thought I was going to be able to stay on top of things, finals struck with an iron fist, and things got crazy.  I’m happy to say, however, that I survived, and I’m happy with all of the finals I completed.  Now, I’m just anxiously awaiting my grades…for what seems like an eternity.  But I’m free!

Even with falling behind, I’m happy to say that again, I’ve wound up making something for class that completely fits in with this challenge.  Is that cheating?  I’m gonna go with no 🙂

So for my Alternative Photography class, I’ve been making work that’s about nature the whole semester (don’t worry, I’ll share it with you soon).  As a final project, I really wanted to print larger than the typical 8 1/2″ x 11″ negatives that we’ve been printing, but I knew I had to do something great to make a single print final worthy.  So instead of just taking some photos of flowers or birds, or whatever I’ve been working with, I decided to photograph “mother nature”.  I like how inspired I’ve been feeling these last few weeks.  Cheesy sounding, I know, but it’s been great letting the ideas flow.  So I had this picture in my mind of how I wanted to photograph “her”, and off I went.

Another perk experienced for these finals — I had tons of models!  It was amazing.  Between the three classes, I had eight, one of which, Brittany, I used for this project.  We went to my favorite little stream that I’ve used on a few other occasions, and dressed in white, with curly hair, and the sun setting, it was everything I wanted….almost.

We started shooting, and something just wasn’t quite right.  We tried different angles, and played with the light, but it just wasn’t what I was thinking.  The rocks were killing our feet this time, so we decided that we should just pack up — I had enough to work with, although it wasn’t perfect.  For some reason, she stayed in the water while I got out, and when I turned around to see why she was still standing in the same place, it was perfect – -the sun was setting nearly directly behind her, the air was glowing in that yellow light, and I knew that was it!  So she splashed in the water, again, as she had been before, and after a few composites of splashes, I had this: exactly what I was thinking.

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I would have loved to be finished at this point, to be honest, but I had a lot more work to do.  At least I’m excited about this process, regardless of how busy and crazy finals are.  Originally, I wanted to do a duo-tone, combining cyanotype with Van Dyke, but, nothing is ever easy with me! After a couple of test prints at school, I couldn’t get the first step, cyanotype, to work, so I decided to take everything home, and do it the old fashioned way; with sunlight.

Did I mention the other struggle of printing this image?  Large.  When dealing with 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets of transparencies, that means you’re going to have to piece a bunch together to get a big image.  In this case, I ended up working with 9 negatives to create this one image, lined up, side by side, over and over again, trying to make this as seamless as possible. Luckily, with the help of my boss at the framing shop, I was able to get a large piece of glass and foam core to make things a little easier, but it was still a difficult task.  So on the one sunny day we had last week, outside I ran, trying as quickly as I could to get this complicated negative all lined up.

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baking in the sunshine 🙂

A successful batch of three prints done and on to the next phase.  Since my original idea of duo-tone wasn’t possible at home, I decided to go with another method; toning.  After seeing the prints, I really didn’t want to tone them, because some of the blues and highlights turned out so great, but I thought I should since that’s what I told my professor I was doing.   I’ve done some work with tea toning in the past, but he suggested trying coffee, so I thought what better time to try something new.  After having tried both now, I have to say, I should have stuck with something I tried before, because this coffee method took forever.  However, it did give me the look that I was going for, well, for the most part.  In case you’re wondering how it all works, honestly, there’s a million different methods and toners you can use.  In this case, I went with instant coffee in warm/hot-ish water.  After a pre-soak, I left the print in the coffee bath for about an hour.  After it wasn’t reaching the tone I wanted, I decided to bleach the print, using actual bleach diluted in water.  This isn’t the preferred method of bleaching, because it eats through the paper if you leave it for too long, but it’s what I had, and it works if you keep an eye on it.  So after that was lightened,  I put the print in another coffee bath for about an hour, and there you have it.

I love the strange color that I got from this whole coffee/bleaching process, but I’m also glad that I left a few of the prints alone.  Here’s both of them, so you can tell me, which do you prefer?  I’m still undecided.  Enjoy 🙂

 

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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!