Storm in a bathtub

Storm in a bathtub

I thought I would share with you part of my process of printing cyanotypes by hand. Currently this is the largest individual print (40 x 60cm) that I can make, the dimensions limited by the size of my bathtub.

Cyanotypes do not need a traditional darkroom since they are photosensitive to ultraviolet light only and need just plain water to fix and wash them, instead of traditional chemical fixers. This means that I can expose my prints in a darkish room with electric uv lights and wash them with tap water in my bathtub.

For the show that I am installing on Monday, I have been focussing on the more abstract elements of my cyanotype landscapes: the spray of storm waves that are both soft and ominous, the viscous reflectiveness of water ripples, the slipperiness of wet seaweed, the rhythm of wind-blown beach grass.

My show will be up from 4-25 April at Tigermoth Coffee Bar (opening hours Monday to Friday 9-2, Saturday 10-3).

I hope you can stop by if you are in the area. Be sure to get one of their delicious coffees while you are there.

Sailing Ship Moccasin at Long Point Lighthouse

Sailing Ship Moccasin at Long Point Lighthouse

I have recently been back to Cape Cod for family visits and responsibilities. While I was there, we spent the day on this beautiful wooden boat that belongs to my son’s friend. He has lovingly restored it and has sailed it up and down the coast from Maryland to Cape Cod.

We set out with our picnic on a warm October day, heading across the harbour to Long Point, the spit of sand that forms the very tip of Cape Cod.

One of the aims of the sail, apart from having a lovely day out, was to get some good photos of the boat. I had an idea of trying to recreate Edward Hopper’s iconic painting The Long Leg. The problem with this plan was that the direction of the sunlight was wrong (it was in front of us, instead of shining across from the left), the wind was wrong (there was very little of it), and we were at a different lighthouse (the one in the painting is a few miles further along the back shore).

So, instead of The Long Leg version 2, here is Sailing Ship Moccasin at Long Point Lighthouse.

Long Point at low tide is a favourite sunbathing spot for seals. We found around 50 of them basking in the sun as we sailed past. If you take a look here, you can see them in the second photo in the gallery.

With Lewes Bonfire coming up next week, don’t forget that my book of Bonfire Portraits is still available to buy. You can find out more about it here.

I am still hard at work binding more copies of my latest book sea shore. It is a collection of 29 of my landscape cyanotypes and two poems written by Sara London. If you are interested in buying a copy, you can order directly from my website.

All my hand-printed cyanotypes are available to buy. Information about purchasing my prints and all of my photography books can be found here.

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 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.

A tale of two home towns

A tale of two home towns

I came back yesterday from a long-overdue trip to my other home town of Truro, out on the end of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I caught up with family and friends who I have been unable to see for many months because of Covid, and I swam at my favourite beaches – the ones I grew up on.

When it came time to return to Lewes, I took the ferry from neighbouring Provincetown, across Cape Cod Bay to Boston. There were raindrops on the ferry windows and clouds shimmered over the expanse of sea. Leaving by water always feels like the most appropriate way to depart from this peninsula stuck out in the Atlantic.

Travel bans over the past 16 months have heightened my sense of the complexity of being from more than one country. As much as I love and belong in each place, I never lose the connection and longing for the other. Covid restrictions have reminded me of how lucky I am that I can usually travel easily between my two home towns. I know this is a privilege denied to many around the world.

More of my landscape photography can be found here. All my hand-printed cyanotypes are available to buy. Please get in touch for more information, and also if you have a workplace, an event, a celebration, a portrait or a building project you would like to have photographed.

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.

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