With no workshop to run on ‘No Camera’ day I decided to try out the activities I had planned for practice as it is likely to be up and running soon with some enquiries coming in but not for today. Timing the three activities and deciding the order in which to do them is important as two (cyanotypes and pinhole images) require finished products to dry. Scanning will therefore be last.
Depending on the number of participants (my limit is 6 given the three activities in three hours at my home) I may choose to place people in pairs and run the activities in parallel with rotation every 45 minutes or so.
I used a Flights of Fancy wooden box pinhole camera to produce 2 sets of images based on 15second and 30 second exposure to outdoor morning light. I tried a 15 second exposure after the first 30 second one rationalising there was increased light as the sun was rising.
Following processing of the negative images I created positive images which I developed, fixed and washed as with the originals. As an alternative method, for comparison I scanned in the original negative images and inverted them in photoshop.
I still have some way to go in perfecting the technique! Further experimentation with exposure times is definitely required and being careful not to inadvertently mark the emulsified side of the photographic paper (there are marks on both images). I will also try different pinhole cameras having made them in a matchbox and a wine bottle box in preparation for a workshop.
Sarah Newton Pinhole camera images exposed for 15 and 30 seconds then made into positive images through exposure and inversion, 2018
Well either the coated paper is old, or I am not getting the timings right! It took several attempts with varying exposure times on pre-coated paper from two sources. I do have the means to prepare paper myself and will do this for the workshop. One source supplied very thin paper which curls easily when wet and drying. The other very thick paper almost like thin card. One has a blue coating which turns almost white in sunlight and the other a yellow coating which turns blue, then grey.
Eventually I made a couple of images using the same idea as the scans by placing a negative image transparency with linked beach debris on the emulsion side of the cyanotype paper. Note to self to practice a lot more as the images are rather simple and childlike, unlike quality cyanotypes my colleagues Josie Purcell and Andrew Barrow create and those of Anna Atkins (Lotzof 2018; The National Science and Media Museum, Bradford). Anna Atkins collected and used natural flora; in contrast I collect and use items made as a result of industrial and technological processes.
Kerry Lotzof Anna Atkins cyanotypes: the first book of photographs, 2018
Cyanotype of British algae by Anna Atkins
Sarah Newton Black holes and White spaces, 2018
Sarah Newton Rowing boat with found fishing rope and line, 2018
I used some stationary to begin with as I will have these items and others including shells and foliage from the garden available for a workshop. It shows the basics of what can be achieved as a demonstration but is rather simplistic and boring. I prefer to create a sense of depth that draws you into the image to look closer at what it is and interpret its’ meaning. Some can tops and bottoms are similarly rather plain without processing.
Sarah Newton Scanned images, 2018
I have made some positive and negative acetates for the workshop that people may use with the scanner and with cyanotypes. In these images I coupled acetates with beach debris; a boat and fishing rope, a tin mine and cans and experimented with single use plastic wrapping. There were one or two hiccups with scanning as I was controlling the scanner with one hand holding the rubbish in place and the computer mouse with the other and coordinating the timing between did not always work. One problem I have not yet overcome is the thin line down the centre of the images. I believe this is under the scanner glass and is part of the track for moving the light, hence the images may need detailed lassoing in photoshop. However, I may be able to do something with the mistakes.
Sarah Newton Nine scanned and processed images, 2018
Overall I am happy with attending my own workshop as it has been a good ‘dummy’ run for the real thing. I am aware of the need to be well organised and today proved that timely coordination of the three activities is essential. I think three hours will be a good introduction to the methods and participants should be able to go home with an example or two of each one as well as information should they wishes to pursue them further. Above all it has impacted positively in boosting my confidence to run the real thing!
Barrow, Andrew. 2018. Cyanotypes and Overlays. Available at: https://www.andrewbarrow.online/blog-1/creating-the-cyanotypes-and-overlays [accessed05-08-2018]
Lotzof, Kerry. 2018. Anna Atkins’s cyanotypes: the first book of photographs. Available at: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/anna-atkins-cyanotypes-the-first-book-of-photographs.html [accessed 05-08-2018]
Purcell, Josie. 2018. #Harena now. Available at: https://www.josiepurcellphotography.com/harenanow/ [accessed 05-08-2018]
The National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, UK. Anna Atkins (1799-1871) in The History of Photography in Pictures. Available at: https://www.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/objects-and-stories/history-photography [accessed 05-08-2018]