super-sized seaweed cyanotype

super-sized seaweed cyanotype

I have been experimenting with how large I can go with my cyanotype prints in preparation for an exhibit in September. I am limited by my set-up, which includes four uv lights, two heavy pieces of toughened glass in which to sandwich the paper and negative during exposure, and a modestly sized bath tub that I wash the prints in. The largest single print I can make is approximately 60cm (24″).

This photograph of bladderwrack seaweed, taken on the west coast of Wales last summer, has so much detail and texture in it that I knew it could work at a large scale. I hit upon the idea of printing 24 separate squares that fit together to create a larger whole. The complete print is 115 x 75cm/ 45 x 30″ (see my toes for scale!).

Because this is a hand-printing process, the colour and exposure of each square varies slightly and the joins between them do not align perfectly, giving a more painterly effect. I am enjoying taking yet another step away from the perfection of digital printing.

I will be hard at work on more large and small prints for my Artwave show in September, more details to follow soon. I am also pushing on with the design of my hand-bound book of cyanotype landscapes of the sea and shoreline.

If you would like information about pre-ordering my book please get in touch. All my hand-printed cyanotypes are available to buy. Information about purchasing my prints and books can be found here.

shelter from the storm

Shelter from the storm

I have been hard at work planning my book of hand-printed cyanotypes that explore that restless space between land and sea. It will be published as a hand-bound, limited-edition book and will be available at my Artwave exhibit in September or by pre-ordering. I will have more details to share with you soon.

My photo this week is taken from my new book. This image was one of the first cyanotypes I worked on when I began experimenting with this new medium last year.

Although the photograph was taken in the aftermath of a fierce winter storm, and huge waves were still crashing on the far side of the breakwater, the sheltering arm of the pier protected the safety of the harbour. There is something about this image that I find deeply reassuring. I have had it on my office wall since I first printed it.

If you would like information about pre-ordering my book please get in touch. All my hand-printed cyanotypes are available to buy. Information about purchasing my prints and books can be found here.

Loosening the anchor of time and space

Loosening the anchor of time and space

Last time I wrote about using cyanotype with landscape and seascape photographs. This week I wanted to share with you my experiments using the technique with architectural photographs.

Trying to visualise how a digital photograph will translate as a hand-printed cyanotype is not straight forward. As I mentioned in my last post, it is such long process getting from the beginning to the end result that I need to have a pretty good idea whether a photo will work.

There is always the element of surprise, though. Photos that I feel sure of can fall flat, and ones that seem like a long shot can be bang on the money.

Using the technique with architectural photography is an interesting shift away from the organic forms of landscapes. I have been working on this idea for some time and wanted to try focussing on a unified group of photographs taken from a single project.

My recent shoot of Madeira Terrace in Brighton seemed a good place to start. This photograph was taken from the upper level terraces looking down onto the green copper roof of the Concorde 2 nightclub.

There is something about the cyanotype process that can remove the anchor of time and space from an image, highlighting instead the shape, texture and light of the composition. That is an exciting dynamic to be working with.

Stormy cyanotype seas

Stormy cyanotype seas

As the days brighten and lengthen, I have had renewed energy to focus on new projects, so I am pushing ahead with my book of sea and shore cyanotypes. My ideas are finally crystallising around how the book will work. I will keep you posted on how it goes and when it will become available.

Making cyanotypes is a rather lengthy process. Printing out my negatives onto acetate film takes about half an hour each. I make a contact print by placing the acetate over paper that I have coated with cyanotype solution which is then exposed to ultraviolet light for around 40 minutes. After the print has been washed in water, I leave it to dry in sunlight, which helps to deepen and enrich the tones.

This print is one of my favourites. It feels to me like it comes from another era, although it was taken 18 months ago just down the road in the industrial setting of Newhaven harbour. The ominous force of that wave against the pier brings to my mind seafaring exploits of past centuries, and the terrible storms and deadly shipwrecks associated with them.

All my hand-printed cyanotypes are available to buy. Get in touch for more information. You can find more of my cyanotypes here, and my book of Lewes Bonfire cyanotypes here.

Please get in touch if you have a workplace, an event, a celebration, a portrait or a building project you would like to have photographed.

Where land meets sea

Where land meets sea

I have to admit that work is a tad slower than I would have liked during this third and open-ended lockdown. To keep myself busy, I have been working with my hand-printed cyanotypes again. This shot was taken at sunrise on Cape Cod during my visit last October.

I am making plans for two more cyanotype books. (My first one, about Lewes Bonfire, can be found here). One book will be photographs of the sea – mostly stormy.

The other will be photos of the plants, sand and rocks to be found where land meets sea. I will be binding them myself as limited editions. I am still working on exactly how I will do this – I’ll keep you posted! More of my cyanotypes are here.

Please get in touch if you have a workplace, an event, a celebration, a portrait or a building project you would like to have photographed.

The year of no Bonfire

The year of no Bonfire

The last time there were no Bonfire celebrations in Lewes, it was 1960 and the town had just been severely flooded. It is not surprising that this year the event has been cancelled because of Covid-19. Even so, a week away from the 5th of November, it is hard to imagine there being no riotous, anarchic revelry.

Over the past months I have been working on a collection of Bonfire portraits, laboriously hand-printing them as cyanotypes. When I learned there would be no festivities on the 5th, I set up a pop-up exhibit of the photographs in a lovely old shopfront along the procession route. I thought of it as a tribute to the celebration that couldn’t be celebrated.

I have also published a collection of these portraits as a book. This week’s photo is the last image in the book – the goodbye shot of Smugglers marching down the hill wielding torches and flaming barrels.

An online version of the book can be found here. If you are interested in buying a copy, contact me here.

Please also head over to The Grain Store Blog. I had the pleasure of being interviewed about this project for a lovely blog post written by Katherine Murphy.

Please get in touch if you have a workplace, an event, a celebration, a portrait or a building project you would like to have photographed.

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