October 27, 2011


Cyanotypes are known for their luminous shades of Prussian blue. But as beautiful as that shade of blue is, what if it's not the right color for a certain subject or mood? Well, cyanotypes are wonderfully versatile, and it turns out that the colors can be altered by toning the print in different liquids. Some of these are specially formulated chemicals, while others are common liquids found around the house.

Would you believe that one of these is coffee? 


After creating original blue-and-white cyanotypes, I then let them soak in a tray of fresh, warm coffee for well over an hour.  


When the prints came out of the tray, the blue had morphed into a dark gray, while the cream-colored paper had turned a lovely shade of caramel. Who knew how useful coffee would be for my photography?

October 23, 2011


 What do you get when you paint a sheet of watercolor paper with a special photosensitive liquid, then expose it to sunlight with a negative pressed over it? 

Well, it depends. 

I suppose there are any number of possible outcomes. But if you use a certain combination of chemicals, expose the paper to the sun for the correct amount of time, and wash the print in water, then, with a little luck, you'll end up with a cyanotype -- a beautiful, unique, blue-and-white print.

I've been studying and practicing this historic method of printmaking, which was invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842... and enjoying every moment.

There are different ways to tone cyanotypes to alter the blue coloring, and there are plenty of other alternative print methods to explore. But for the moment, I'm enjoying the pure Prussian blue of the cyanotype. From choosing a subject and composing the shot down to the final blue image fixed on watercolor paper, printmaking has added a whole new (and fantastically fun) aspect to my photography.

I love it.

October 20, 2011


On a recent photo walk in Williamsburg, Virginia, I was looking for some digital photography fun. I had my Nikon ready and was looking to capture anything and everything that suited my photographic whims.

But of course my photographic whims also had to include some off-the-wall methodology. I've been wanting to try selectively coating my lens (don't worry: the clear UV filter, not the lens glass itself) with Vaseline, but all I had on hand was a plain chapstick.

I applied it to part of the filter and started snapping away to see what types of effects it would create. This peacefully grazing horse was my first unwitting subject.

The chapstick had a stripey effect on some photos...

...but lent a soft glow to others.

Bruton Parish Church

To my surprise, the chapstick also added a starburst effect to the lights coming on at dusk.

Colonial Williamsburg is a beautiful place to watch daylight  fade away into night. 

And apparently it's also well-suited to chapstick-enhanced digital photography. 
Next time: Vaseline!