Thursday, October 24, 2013

Experimenting with cyanotypes

Anna Atkins, Chordaria flagelliformis (NY Public Library)

Scientific illustration in its early days was hand drawn and painted.  Today photography and digital imaging have greatly changed this field. So where did this revolution begin?  This photographic investigation was kick started by one of the first women photographers, Anna Atkins in 1843.  Her work British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions recorded specimens of algae in the British Isles, capturing a beautiful ephemerality in the process.  Her editions are great examples of the synthesis of art and science.
Anna Atkins, Delesseria sanguinea (NY Public Library)

Luckily for us, we can all easily make cyanotypes in our backyards.  Yeah!  Here is a link to B & H Photo where one can buy pre-coated paper or a basic kit to coat your own papers for around $20.  For the truly adventurous who want to make everything from scratch, here is an insanely informative site by Mike Ware on alternative photographic processes. One can purchase bulk chemicals for these scratch recipes from Photographers Formulary or a chemical supplier.

I made my own little creatures using the cyanotype process. They are a combination of Katydid wings and bird skeletons....       
Bidid Hybrid I, Cyanotype
Bidid Hybrid II, Cyanotype