Cyanotype printing, or “blueprints”, was a process that became popular with engineers and architects in the 20th Century.  Cyanotype printing was invented by scientist/astronomer Sir John Herschel in 1842 for the reproduction of his personal notes and diagrams.  In 1843 Anna Atkins became the first photographer to utilize cyanotype prints within the realm of photography.  She published “British Algae, Cyanotype Impressions”  which contained 424 cyanotypes, or what were then known as “shadowtypes”.   (Alternative  “The cyanotype process has remained virtually unchanged since its invention but a few variations have been developed, one of which is the New Cyanotype II by Mike Ware.” (


This is a pretty neat one because you can see the extreme hightlights that happen in this process.  I think this is a cool process because you get such nice color, light or dark.

Robin Hill: Multiplying the Variations  by David Olivant  September 7 to October 5, 2006 “”


Such good contrast & values.. also good photo in general!  You can see that this type of photogenic process creates a mood or feeling to the image, I personally find it very nice and calming.



1.) Video: The Process

2.) Video: Showing the Developing Process



-> In order to get ready we created the solutions below:

Tea Solution

Reverse Browning Solution

Redevelopment Solution

-> We also had to prepare 2 Bleach Ammonia Solutions, one weak and one strong as listed below.

1) Strong= 250ml Ammonia 11qt. H2O

2)Weak= Ammonia solution at 5% Ammonia

-> The paper used was 100% Rag cut to the appropriate size, (slightly larger than our image)

-> The active Solution we used is as follows:

-ferric ammonia citrate 100ml

-potassium ferricyanide 100ml

->You will do two coats, drying after each with a hairdryer until bone dry.  The application is very similar to all of the others in this blog, you use a 12 ml pipette to deliver the solution in a beaded line across the top then smooth it across evenly with a sponge brush.

-> As you can find below, you will need an exposure time of appx. 12 minutes, you are waiting until the image gets dark and then starts to turn light again in the darkest areas.. then you know it is perfect!

The Experiment:

Toning Solution:  (Remember between each step have a water bath to wash the image off in between so not to contaminate the other baths).

A. Tea Solution A good strong mixture of tea and water, (can be instant tea or coffee). You leave the image in the solution until it is a color of your liking.

 This toning solution creates a “navy” effect on the images.  I liked this the most, it seemed to make the image look like something I would hang in my house, very good depth and good colors!

B. Reverse Browning Solution is Step 1: Tea for about 4 minutes (Rinse)Step 2: Move the image to the Bleach Ammonia (Strong_Concentration).  I left it in the mixture for about 3 minutes, but it really seemed to wash out the image completely.  I was really not a fan of this mixture.

This toning solution should create a very brown effect, seeming similar to the Gelatin, but slightly more washed out. (I thought it was so washed out I could not appreciate it, but I may have left it in too long.)

C. Redevelopment Solution(This solution should give the image a blue/ yellow look). Step 1: Drop the image in the Bleach Ammonia (Weak_Concentration), I left it for appx. 4 minutes (Rinse)  Step 2: Drop in to a tea bath for as long as you desire, the longer the bath the darker or more brown the image.

D. We also left one plain, just washed after exposure for about 15 minutes in a bath.  I think this one was the most attractive in the end.  It had such a rich blue color!


Above: After appx. 3 minutes of exposure

Above: Almost Ready to come in!

Above: Ready for the first Rinse




****For my exploration of the toning I used 2 exposed images and cut it in halves.****

Final Prints:

->Above: Tea & Water Toning
->Above: Tea with Bleach Ammonia Solution (Strong) Toning
->Above: Redevelopment Bleach Ammonia (weak), with Tea
->Above: Plain Cyanotype 15 min wash
***I created a few more just because I like the original process without the toning much better.  I wanted to see how it looked on some other photos.****
Cyanotype After Simple Exposure & Rinse
Cyanotype After Simple Exposure & Rinse

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