I will be showing this cyanotype of a church that is just a short walk from my home on Cape Cod, in order to bring a touch of New England to my East Sussex Artwave exhibit. Built in 1827, it is a handsome white clapboard Greek Revival building and the oldest church in our tiny town of Truro.
I have been experimenting with ways of printing my cyanotypes at larger sizes than the 30x40cm that most of them have been so far. One method is my multi-panelled prints. This works well for landscapes and organic, textured closeups, but doesn’t feel right for architectural photos.
The enlargement process is complicated by the fact that I need a structure to suspend several ultraviolet lights over my plates while at the same time giving an even exposure. I have finally figured out a way to manage this so that I can print up to 40x60cm.
This photo of the Truro Congregational Church is one of the first prints I made at this larger size. Of course you can’t tell from the scan that it is larger, but take my word for it, it looks great!
As I mentioned last time, I will be launching my new book sea shoreat our Artwave show and will be exhibiting landscape images from the book, as well as showing a range of cyanotypes from my architectural documentary projects.
If you are in the Lewes area over the last three weekends in September, I hope you can stop by. I will be exhibiting with the painter Kelly Hall again this year and you can find us at St Anne’s House, 111 High St, Lewes, BN7 1XY. Opening hours are 11-5. You can find information about my new book here, and can contact me if you would like to pre-order one. All my hand-printed cyanotypes are available to buy. Information about purchasing my prints and books can be found here.
I am very pleased to announce that my new book sea shore will be ready in time for my Artwave show in September. The first edition of 100 copies will be printed over the next week and then I will begin the process of hand binding them all. The book is a collection of 29 cyanotypes of sea and shoreline landscapes, with two poems written specifically for this project by American poet Sara London.
My photo this week is the image on the cover of the book. This curved wave was photographed in Newhaven during a winter storm. The unusual shape came, I think, from the force of the wave rebounding against the arm of the breakwater and circling back into the harbour.
I headed to the coast early in the morning the day after the worst of the storm. The wind was still fierce but the sky was clear. Low sunlight skimmed across the water, highlighting every ridge and wrinkle on the wind-whipped surface and catching in the white spray of the waves.
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 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 sea|shore and will be available at my Artwave exhibit in September or by pre-ordering. More details here.
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.
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.
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.