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  #41  
Old 12th November 2020, 04:45 PM
Terry S Terry S is offline
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Okay, I'm a bit behind with my post, so that will probably be tomorrow now, but I hope that Roy H is still reading this thread as I have a couple of questions for him.

So far, I have struggled to obtain such a deep blue that Roy seems to have on all of his pictures.

I have being doing many test strips, giving different lengths of time under my UV light, on a couple of different papers. I have then washed them in various liquids including plain tap water and hydrogen peroxide. Although I am getting a tone and a colour, they do seem to vary on the paper used along with the exposures, but most importantly none of them are that lovely deep blue that Roy has obtained.

So Roy, could you tell us what paper you have been using, along with the chemical ratios for the coating liquid itself? I am wondering whether I need to increase the chemical to water ratios and / or try some other paper?

And then of course, it may be my UV light is too weak or the exposures given aren't long enough? Currently they are up to two hours in length, with this test just finishing and about to be washed?

Terry S
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  #42  
Old 12th November 2020, 09:46 PM
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Terry - I wish I could say what reliably gave the intense blue!

As I've only been making these for a month, sporadically, I've a lot to learn about the variables, although there is no doubt hydrogen peroxide and acidic washing are significant factors.
One tip, be careful if you use white vinegar at 10% dilution- I tried this and watched as the prussian blue colour blissfully drifted off the surface of the print! Try 1 or 2 %.

The most intense blue has only occurred a few times and I was very lax at keeping accurate notes of the conditions and processing during my earlier attempts.

The UV light source has now eliminated the vagaries of daylight exposure, so that's one variable sorted.

The paper I've used so far has been Daler Aquafine Watercolour 250gsm and most recently Scribble & Dot Cold Press Watercolour Premium 300gsm (https://www.scribbleanddot.com/produ...atercolour-pad).
Both are textured more one side than the other. I've also tried ordinary thick smooth paper, but its light weight makes it trickier to handle (tends to curl).

My chemicals are the standard 'beginner's mix' - potassium ferricyanide 10g in 100ml, ammonium ferric citrate, 25g in 100ml. Distilled water used in both cases. Mixed 1+1 just prior to coating with a foam brush. The mix I used today was made up on October 11th, so 1 month old.

My UV light is 50W, and placed about 40-50cm away from the contact frame is giving an exposure of 5 minutes with a digital negative on Pictorico film.

The first one shown here was made today, as I said, chemicals were around 2 months old, mixed and coated about three days ago. Paper is the Scribble & Dot stuff. Negative was a translated digital file printed onto Pictorico using a standard inkjet printer (Canon - pigment ink).
Contact exposure 5 minutes, developed in a dish with 1gm of citric acid added to 1000ml tap water, then washed under cold tap water briefly before soaking in a hydrogen peroxide bath, around 5ml of 9% H2O2 to 1000ml tap water. Washed again, briefly, as I know that continued washing in my hard water will start to bleach the print. The paper seems not to hold much chemical residue, but only time will tell. It's a bit light, but ok. I expect it to darken more over the next few days, but it's not the intense blue I got with...the second example...

This pineapple still life was the first cyanotype I made. Daler paper, same chemical mix, freshly made back then, coated with an old kitchen sponge! (Maybe that's the secret? ).
It's quite dark, exposure was in sunlight from a half-plate silver negative shot on my Gandolfi. The silver image is much denser than you get with inkjet and I think the exposure was 20 minutes in weak sun. It needed more.
The blue is as intense as the one shown previously of the bird stone ornament - also a silver negative, also fresh chemicals.

I am mixing a new batch tomorrow and will coat and use some paper immediately to see if freshness helps.

I do have plenty of failures and the third image shows the blue variation of four prints made with the same paper (Daler), the same mix, at the same time, with different exposures trying to get the image to print well (...so far I have failed to). The darkest blue is notably using the reverse of the paper, which has a different texture. Perhaps the paper absorption is different?
At least watercolour paper is slightly cheaper than photographic paper!

Endless fun ahead...
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  #43  
Old 13th November 2020, 01:28 PM
Terry S Terry S is offline
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Roy, many thanks for your reply - some interesting information there.

Like some of yours, I too am finding it hard to achieve a deep blue tone at all. I'm now of the thought that my UV lamp is not strong enough, as even a 2 hour exposure doesn't get there with a dark enough tone.

I'm off to the darkroom for a printing session this afternoon, and if it remains sunny, I will put out a few sheets to see if sunlight on a November day is strong enough to produce a good tone.

Interesting that you say the back of the paper is producing slightly better results though and I know what you mean about the vinegar, as I too have tried it!

And if possible, could you show us a picture of the lamp that you use, for your amazingly short exposures of just 5 minutes? I've been browsing ebay again, but there are so many different UV lamps available, I just don't know what I'm looking for to get something like your 50 watt UV garden light.

Many thanks,

Terry S
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  #44  
Old 13th November 2020, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry S View Post
Roy, many thanks for your reply - some interesting information there.

And if possible, could you show us a picture of the lamp that you use, for your amazingly short exposures of just 5 minutes? I've been browsing ebay again, but there are so many different UV lamps available, I just don't know what I'm looking for to get something like your 50 watt UV garden light.

Many thanks,

Terry S
This is my lamp Terry.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071RTHQ...ing=UTF8&psc=1
Somewhat typically, Amazon is now showing it as 'Currently unavailable'. I only bought mine in October...
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  #45  
Old 14th November 2020, 01:43 PM
Terry S Terry S is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy_H View Post
This is my lamp Terry.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071RTHQ...ing=UTF8&psc=1
Somewhat typically, Amazon is now showing it as 'Currently unavailable'. I only bought mine in October...
Thanks for the quick reply Roy. Looking at the link you gave, which as you say, says it was out of stock, but other exact items were also recommended from other sellers.

I quickly checked around to see if there was a better price anywhere, and there wasn't, so put in an order last night, about 8pm.

I was looking forward to trying it out on Wednesday or Thursday when it said it would be delivered. So imagine my surprise when it arrive during my lunch break, about half an hour ago at 1pm Saturday 14/11/2020.

I had booked in my mind a darkroom printing session today, so I'll coat some paper this afternoon as well, to dry over night, and I can test it out tomorrow. I'm quite excited about it all. I don't think I could wait until after Christmas to try it all out like CambsIan - you must have nerves of steel Ian! But at least you'll have loads of info by the time that comes around.

Terry S
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  #46  
Old 14th November 2020, 04:36 PM
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Hi Terry, not so much nerves of steel, more that my better half has locked it away an told me I can't have until the 25th December

Still as you say loads of info on this thread, just hope that when I can finally get my hands on it I can get something to come out.

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  #47  
Old 15th November 2020, 06:19 PM
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Default UPDATE: Using Mike Ware's Process

...not for the faint-hearted!

Ammonium Iron(III) Oxalate arrived so decided to follow Mike Ware's instructions for his revised mix.
(https://www.mikeware.co.uk/mikeware/...e_Process.html)
This is a one-solution coating mix that has a shelf life of a year or more in a dark stoppered bottle kept in the dark.

Thanks to his clear instructions, all went well. As I've been unable to source any ammonium dichromate (once used for the - now banned - indoor firework 'Mount Vesuvius' & highly flammable) I substituted it with 0.5ml of 20% w/v potassium dichromate.

Advisory: It's not an easy mix as it needs to be carried out at 43℃ and I would have struggled without my heated magnetic stirrer, as the solutions are highly saturated. Gloves, mask, safety glasses or face screen, protective apron or HazMat suit recommended...
But I've survived, it worked and I coated some watercolour paper (Scribble & Dot) last night.

I made test strips (below) as this coating is supposedly more sensitive than the traditional one. In practice, I found it was much the same.

Exposure was 6 minutes to my UV lamp at around 40cm. The 8x10 negative was on Pictorico transparency film, an image translated from a digital original. I've shown the original and its negative counterpart, the latter adjusted somewhat to improve shadow densities.

Development was in a 1.5% citric acid bath for 2 minutes, rinsed in cold running water and then given 1 minute in a very dilute hydrogen peroxide solution. Rinsed again until no visible yellow stain remained (a minute or so).

Very pleased with the blue obtained and the tonal range seems very good. There appeared to be no loss in density during the washing cycles but only time will tell if any residual chemicals in the paper affect the image.

1: The finished print
2: The test strips
3: The digital negative
4: Conventional print
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  #48  
Old 17th November 2020, 01:42 PM
Terry S Terry S is offline
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Although a bit behind Roy, I too have been experimenting with the cyanotype process, since my last post. Apologies for the long post to follow...

I recently bought a small amount of Ammonium Ferric Citrate to try out the cyanotype process, with the web-page confirming it was used as such. It arrived okay, but it turned out to be the BROWN version. I didn’t realise that the preferred one was Ammonium Ferric Citrate GREEN. Reading a bit more, I discovered that a lot of people use and say brown is fine - it may ‘just need a little bit more exposure’ they say. So I thought that I’d give it a go.

First thing to do was mix up the various chemicals, as they required 24 hours to ‘ripen’. (Having tried coating the paper with the freshly made solutions, I can confirm that the time is required, and better final results are got by doing so.) After coating some of my 90 gsm artist pad of cartridge paper in the darkroom, I hung it up to dry.

And then a light source was required, due to the lack of winter sun. Ever conscious of cost, I decided to purchase and use the lamp that CambsIan had mentioned, at just £6.99, along with a cheap-ish angle poise lamp from Amazon.

I also tried sunny day exposures of up to about an hour, on a not so often sunny day in November. I also tried exposing the paper under the UV light, with it being about 30 cm from the paper. I did a step wedge set of exposures on both. The outdoor exposures gave a light blue tint and the UV light ones obtained barely any tone. Whilst rinsing the papers in tap water, it barely held together, so a thicker paper would be needed.

Having done the exposures and the wash above, I carefully put any of the strips of paper that showed any tone, through a series of other liquids, being distilled water; citric acid; diluted and full strength @ 9% hydrogen peroxide; sodium carbonate and malt vinegar. Most of what I have read says that these chemicals are supposed to intensify the blueness, but instead they all bleached what little blue there was, with no intensification of any tone at all.

I tried longer times under the lamp, as sunshine was lacking, trying up to two hours, in blocks of 20 minutes, with no better tones resulting. I was now beginning to wonder if it is just the ‘brown’ that doesn’t work, or maybe the bulb itself isn’t strong enough?

Before I give up on the ‘brown’, until next summer at least. I had one more thing I want to try. That is a more saturated solution of the chemicals, with some reporting positive news about that, so I mixed up a three times strength of the recipe that I used. This too was unsuccessful.

In the mean time, I decided to buy a small amount of ‘green’ AFC from Silverprint’s ebay shop. It said delivery would be a week, so I was pleasantly surprised to receive it within just two days. With this I thought, excitably, I will now find out if it is the chemical I already have or the lamp, or maybe even both, that haven’t been suitable for my experiments. I mixed some up immediately, but I had to wait for 24 hours before I could use it to coat some paper. I was impatient though, so I mixed some up and coated some paper immediately. An hour or so after coating, I did a small test with some of now dried paper. And ‘Yes!’, I was finally getting blue tone in my finished exposures, with the colour blue starting to appear in as little as 20 minutes under the lamp. Trying the same exposures after the 24 hours period, on another piece of paper were definitely better though, with a slightly darker blue appearing.

I have since done a few more tests on both the cartridge paper again, along with coating some Winsor and Newton, 300 gsm Cotman watercolour paper, which is absolutely lovely - but more expensive, so I’ll be careful with the amount I use in the initial stages. I also submerged some of the watercolour paper in a solution of citric acid before drying to coat it, (½ teaspoon of citric acid in 300 ml of water, straight from the tap) as I have read various comments about using it, but mostly as a bath to put it in after exposure. I was a little wary, as previously exposed paper (coated with the brown chemical) put in the solutions earlier, caused the little tone there was, to bleach back, but this time I was submerging the paper in the citric acid solution, before drying it and then coating and drying it again before exposing it. When rinsed and dry, the darkest tone after 2 hours under the UV lamp, were a very light sky blue colour, but it was a start.

Then I read Roy’s post about much shorter exposures with a 50 watt UV garden lamp that he had purchased. I too had been looking at all the various UV lamps on the internet and it had left me more confused than ever, so I was glad that he said that this lamp had made his exposures much shorter and that the blues were so much more intense! I couldn’t stop myself from buying one, especially since I had just won £140 on the National Lottery.

So over the weekend, I tore some of the watercolour paper into strips, and then soaked some strips totally as well as coating some strips on one side only, with the citric acid solution, with a ‘sponge brush’. Once the paper was dry, I then coated with the newly ripened green solution and put it to one side, in the dark, to dry.

And the UV light. It is designed very well, and is a heavy and sturdy bit of equipment. The unit is about A4 sized, with 50 tiny LED's in the centre of it, in a unit measuring about 25 mm square. This is then surrounded by a reflective surface. It has a bracket on the back, but until I decide how to use it in the future, with maybe some diy set up, I put a walking stick through the bracket and then balanced the stick on a fold-able plastic step and an empty 5 litre fixer container. This made the light about 10 cm’s from the paper, with the light at this distance giving about an A4 sized lit area. Exposures of 5 minutes at a time, up to 25 minutes were given.

Just rinsing the paper in the bathroom sink, all the paper strips have a good set of tones, with the 5 minute being usable as a lighter blue tone, and the 20 to 25 minutes being much darker on all the strips of paper, with some areas being a lovely deep Prussian blue - all in all, some absolutely wonderful colours! I will not put them through any other liquids at present, so I can see what they look like when dry, but I am very happy with these new results.

I’m sorry about the very long post, especially as all I can offer at the moment are some test strips to show you. But I will continue with my experiments, with both light sources and the two different chemicals and I will then report back as and when I have something more to offer.

And finally, it’s great to see Roy experimenting further with yet another formula, but I think I will stick with the ‘old version’, especially as it seems less dangerous!

Terry S
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  #49  
Old 19th November 2020, 08:09 PM
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Look forward to seeing the results Terry, all sounds promising.

Useful tip, discovered by experiment today: A solution of sodium bicarbonate completely removes Prussian blue.

I've not seen this documented anywhere but maybe it has been? I will determine the best concentration and report.
Failed prints may now be bleached and, after a thorough wash and drying, the paper can be re-coated and used again.

Recycling!
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Old 20th November 2020, 05:30 PM
Terry S Terry S is offline
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At last! I'm am now getting good results with my test strips. I am now ready to try a proper 'print' - if that is what we should call them?

Looking at the third of my pictures in my post above, you will see that I got amazingly deep blue colours on the watercolour paper strips that I used previously. Now I wish I had taken a photo, because when they dried over night, by morning there was hardly any tone left at all! It almost looked like fresh new paper. Was I disappointed or what?!?!

Well, a couple of days later the tones seem to have returned, and the best tone of all the test strips was obtained by soaking the paper in citric acid @ 1/2 teaspoon in 300ml of water; with the paper left to dry before coating.

Today I tried out a different brand of watercolour paper (I'll look at them and name them later on, in case anyone wants to know) and had more great results, with what looks light both the green and the brown AFC, although the brown needed longer exposures. I'll update when they are dried and hopefully remember to take a picture this time as well, in case they fade like before.

BUT, I also found that by soaking half of each test strip directly after exposure, in a 4% citric acid solution (= 4gms of CA in 100ml of water. When measured it's about 2 1/2 teaspoons in 300ml of water), there was an IMMEDIATE change to a lovely dark blue, with both the green and brown AFC. I am presuming that this is similar to the immediate result that is said to happen when doing the same with a hydrogen peroxide solution? From what I've read though, it only speeds up the oxidization process and that the strips not put in either of these solutions should reach the same colour in the matter of a few days.

At the end of this day, I feel that I have finally achieved my goal and look forward to experimenting and printing cyanotypes along side my darkroom work.

Terry S
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