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  In The Studio

Impromptu Residency (Day 2)

Toning Experiment with Bleach

This is a day 2 recap of my impromptu residency. As mentioned in my day 1 entry, I wanted to experiment with toning cyanotypes with bleach. Bleach turns cyanotype from blue to yellow. I want to see if I want to use bleach in my future work.

Remember the toned papers from yesterday? I used them in the two new images from my Part III series. I brushed cyanotype chemistry on the yellow paper, let them dry, and then exposed them again using two digital negatives that I prepared beforehand.

The results?

They’re too green.

Not really what I wanted.

Total failure.

Of course, when you mix blue and yellow, you get green.

At least now, I know how to get green.

In looking at these prints, there's not enough contrast. The prints look faded. I will have to work on that if I'm going to use this layering process in the future.

Experimenting with Value

I also wanted to see how different concentrations of bleach and water affect the tones of a cyanotype print. For this experiment, I printed out a bunch of tables that show tone values from the lightest (highlights) to the darkest (shadows).

Value Experiment

Here’s the result. The original value table is the first one, and then the next table shows the result if 100% bleach was brushed on the print. It was too strong. The bleaching was too fast. For the next one I diluted to 25% bleach - 75% water. It was still too strong. I won’t be able to control the bleaching of the print at this concentration.

Toning Experiment with Bleach

I diluted the bleach further. The second row shows the results of a 14% bleach - 86% water concentration. At this level, the bleaching was slower, and therefore I will be able to control the bleaching process better. This looks like a good start.

The third row of prints shows the result of an experiment where I immersed the print in 100% bleach vs my preferred 14%-86% concentration. I was curious if the yellow would come out to be the same. And they did! This is a good finding. There is no difference that I could see between using 100% bleach (which is uncontrollable) vs a diluted version (which is controllable).

Value TablesTones higher than midtones are enclosed in red

In looking at these value tables, it’s interesting to see that cyanotype values that are lighter than the midtones will always turn white. This means that if I want yellow in my prints, I have to make sure that the starting cyanotype value is darker than a midtone.

That’s all I accomplished in day 2. Tomorrow, I will experiment with toning cyanotype prints using baking soda. Stay tuned!

Go back to day 1 or go forward to day 3.


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