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Photo Tips > Make a Cyanotype


Woodland Horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum)

Anna Atkins (1799-1871)

Cyanotypes are the original blue print process.

As you can see above, they're blue and white.

You may have seen cyanotypes in an old family album.

How to Make a Cyanotype

You don't need a darkroom to make cyanotypes.

Place objects on the paper, such as a fern frond, and expose the assemblage to sunlight.

Develop by rinsing in running water.

No chemicals are needed.

Ready-made Paper

Freestyle sells 8 x 10 inch cyanotype paper.

Make Your Own paper

You can make your own paper, as well.

You mix two chemicals, and coat watercolor paper using a sponge brush.

Blueprints on Fabric

Ferguson Alternative Process Tutorials

Unblinking Eye - Cyanotype Formulas

Mike Ware's Alternative Photography Pages - New Cyanotype Process

Printing Negatives

You can use cyanotype paper to print negatives.

A negative is placed on the paper, and held down with a sheet of glass.

However, 35mm negatives are too small.

You have several options:

• Use a medium format camera, such as a $20 Holga.

• Have a photography lab make 4x5 inch or 8x10 inch copy negative from your 35mm negative.

• Make your own negatives with your B&W laser or inkjet printer.

1) Open a photograph in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

2) Reverse the positive image into a negative image.

Go to Filter > Adjustments > Invert.

3) Print this negative onto transparency film.

People use this film for overhead projector presentations.

The film is available at office supply stores.

Make sure your printer can use the film.

Buy either the laser-printer film, or the ink-jet-printer film, according to your printer type.

4) Experiment with exposure and contrast.