Photographs by Frank

24 July 2022

Turmeric Anthotypes – Another Batch

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 10:15 AM

Hot, sunny, summer days… good for making anthotypes, not so good for the anthotypist.

This batch was made on Friday.

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Note: These were scanned with a new scanner. (The printer in our all-in-one device died and had to be replaced.). Thus, these scans are much redder than the originals. I’ll have to work to sort that out, but it is time to get yet another batch ‘cooking’ now!

18 July 2022

Monday Anthotypes

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 5:00 PM

Yesterday dawned bright and sunny. Thus, I was ‘busy’ making anthotypes.

I put ‘busy’ in quotes because making anthotypes is mostly about waiting if you have the paper already prepared. I spent about an hour first thing in the morning gathering and arranging material on various sheets of paper and placed everything out in the sun. The paprika anthotypes only take about an hour to expose but the turmeric anthotypes spent all day sitting outside.

In the early evening, I processed the prints. The images made with paprika get sprayed with an acrylic protective spray. The ones with turmeric get sprayed with 5% sodium carbonate (washing soda). In both cases these treatments are needed to slow the fading of the pigments that form the image.

I used a large chunk of the rest of the day to hand-color several more inkjet prints. More on that later.

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13 July 2022

Wednesday’s Work

This morning dawned bright and clear. After breakfast, I took a stroll about the yard, with scissors in hand, hunting for objects with which to make anthotypes. While the anthotypes were exposing, I worked on hand-coloring another print.

All of these images are small, made on 5×7 inch or smaller paper. The anthotypes are each made on a different paper. #3 is on Strathmore Vision drawing paper (fairly bright white). #4 is on the warm-toned Strathmore Series 400 drawing paper. #5 is on Unica Ivory, also warm but somewhere between the other two papers in tone. I am definitely liking warm-toned paper for paprika anthotypes.

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After lunch, with the skies partly to mostly sunny and the temperature right around 80 deg. F (i.e perfect weather for photographing odes) I headed out to do just that! My goal was the Ashuelot River in Surrey. This is a fast moving, rocky-bottomed smallish river; different from the usual ode habitats I frequent.

I spent just under two hours along the river upstream of the bridge (at the farthest upstream Army Corps of Engineers access site) and was amazed at the paucity of odes. I saw exactly six ebony jewelwings. I did not observe a single dragonfly!

On the way home I made two additional stops along the river on the road between Surrey and Gilsum with similar results… one additional ebony jewelwing.

My luck was only slightly better when I got back to Antrim. I stopped at the field adjacent to the Stone Church on Clinton Road and saw a couple of female Eastern Forktails and, finally two dragonflies. The dragonflies were both out over the small pond in this field and I did not get a good enough view of either to identify them. One of these individuals was making rapid circuits around the circumference of the pond. The other individual was ovipositing; i.e. repeatedly dipping the end of her abdomen into the water.

The lack of odes was quite surprising. Early yesterday evening a line of thunderstorms crossed the region; an inch of rain fell in well less than an hour accompanied by high winds. My guess is that odes do not survive well under these conditions. However, I do not have (and with a quick Google search did not find mention of) any evidence to support this idea.

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12 July 2022

Paprika, Red Cabbage & Turmeric Anthotypes

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 3:30 PM

About a year ago, I made a series of anthotypes* using an extract of turmeric (see: post 1, post 2, and post 3).

Turmeric is a commonly used material for making anthtotypes. However, in anticipation of the inaugural World Anthotype Day I have spent the past week or so experimenting with making anthotypes with less commonly used materials as the source of pigment. Specifically, I made images with both a water-based extract of red cabbage and an organic solvent-based extract of paprika.

With the red cabbage I am able to make both blue and pink (think of the colors associated with newborn babies) images. However, these images (not shown) are of low contrast as the starting colors are fairly pale.

Additionally, the exposures required are long… think multiple days in the sun. Having long stretches of bright sunny days is not typical New Hampshire weather even in July. So I am not sure how practical this process would be. Furthermore, I am not a particularly patient soul. Lastly, baby blue and baby pink are just not colors that I am particularly fond of.

Thus, I don’t think that I will be pursuing red cabbage anthotypes much further.

However, I have been getting very nice results using an orange-yellow pigment extracted from paprika with an organic solvent. For my first attempts I used rubbing alcohol (iso-propanol) which is the solvent of choice for making turmeric anthotypes. I was able to make images with very short (for anthotypes) exposures (e.g. an hour or less). The images were fairly low contrast as the initial extract was not particularly dark. The chemist in me thought that using a less polar solvent might give better results and thus I tried making an extract of paprika using mineral spirits**. This worked like a charm. The details of my procedure and the results of my experiments can be found in this pdf file.

Shown below are two successful paprika anthotypes (exposure time 45-60 min in full July sun) and two new turmeric anthotypes (exposure time 5-6 hours).

The first image is on a nice warm Strathmore Series 400 drawing paper. The remaining three images are on Strathmore Vision drawing paper.

The turmeric images were sprayed with 5% sodium carbonate (washing soda) in order to stabilize them and to increase the contrast. The paprika images were sprayed with an acrylic fixative in order to stabilize them.

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* Anthotypes are images made using plant-derived pigments. One makes an extract of some colored plant part (often petals from a flower) and coats paper with the extract. When the paper is dry, one places objects (or, less commonly, a positive transparency) on the paper and then places a piece of glass atop the objects. This “sandwich” is the placed in a sunny spot and left for a period of time… certainly hours and often days. The sunlight fades the pigment and one is left which an image formed by the shadow of the objects you placed on the paper.

** Mineral spirits are easily available at the hardware store as they are used for thinning and cleaning up when using oil-based paints.

14 June 2021

Hardware (Anthotype Photograms)

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 10:30 PM

Saturday evening, I sat down with my jar of ‘stuff’ for making photograms and played with patterns. Early Sunday morning, I set up some photograms based on my ‘play’ the evening and headed for Brattleboro. Shortly after I returned home in the middle of the afternoon I processed the now well exposed anthotype paper.

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3 June 2021

Another Set of Anthotypes

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 5:30 PM

Yesterday morning, I started a bunch of anthotypes early and then spent the rest of the morning finishing up the batch of salted-paper I had sensitized earlier in the week*.

I put the anthotypes out at about 9:30. This is as early as the sun reaches my ‘anthotype spot’ (AKA the bulkhead leading to our basement). At about 5:30, I began the process of disassembling the frames and spraying the anthotypes. I finished the clean up just in time for a 6:30 webinar on ‘hand-made photographs’ sponsored by the Photographic Resource Center in Boston.

The astute observer will note that I have expanded the subject matter of my anthotypes! There will be further expansion to follow as time and sunny days permit… I have ideas!!!

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* There were no new images in this batch of salted-paper prints, so there will not be a post about them. I am trying to get in the habit of making an ‘edition’ of two or three copies of each image I print on salted-paper.

21 May 2021

Two Day’s Worth (of Anthotypes)

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Anthotypes take a lot of time but little effort.

If I have paper already prepared, it takes only a little time in the morning to find a few subjects, to think about compositions, and to load up the printing frames. The exposures take five or six hours in strong (for New Hampshire) sun. Then, in the late afternoon it takes another small amount of time to disassemble the frames and spray the photograms with sodium carbonate (washing soda) solution. After that the paper has to dry overnight.

The past two days were as bright and sunny as it gets here and I made anthotypes both days. I put the exposure interval on both days to good use doing errands and doing chores… no sitting around for me!

I am out of both turmeric extract and treated paper and I want to get back to making some salted-paper prints. Thus, I think that these may be the last anthotypes for a while.

Additionally, my motivation for making these anthotypes in the first place, the vernal renewal of plants (i.e. new leaves!!!), is rapidly waning… everything is more-or-less fully leafed out at this point.

However, I could change my mind on a whim, so who knows!

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19 May 2021

More Anthotypes

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 4:30 PM

Yesterday was partly sunny… Sunny enough for anthotypes, I thought.

After a late breakfast*, I prowled the yard, scissors in hand, for plant material. I ended up exposing about a dozen sheets of paper for six hours. The four ‘keepers’ are shown below.

Perceptive viewers will note that the first image (Untitled #5) has a lighter background that the others. It was done on a different paper (Rives Heavyweight) than the others (Strathmore Vison drawing paper). The Strathmore is an inexpensive, acid-free, wood pulp-based paper that seems to work quite well for anthotype. The Rives is a 100% cotton rag paper that is fairly lightweight (175 gsm). It too seems to work well.

Yesterday, I also tried some Stonehenge Light (135 gsm) that did not work well at all. The color in all the of these prints ran when I sprayed them (even very lightly) with the washing soda solution to ‘develop’ them.

In the past, I have tired a number of heavier (250-300 gsm) watercolor papers as well. These did not work well either. The prints were low contrast because, I think, they held too much of the yellow pigment. With these papers, the background was fairly dark even after a very long exposure.

Today is bright and sunny, so I did the same again although breakfast was at the usual time. I have exposures going outside as I write. They should be done shortly. If there are any good ones in the batch, you’ll see them here tomorrow!

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* Complications involving cousins delayed breakfast

14 May 2021


Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 10:30 AM

A few days ago I coated some paper with turmeric extract in anticipation of the next sunny day. Yesterday was that day!

I set up eight printing frames for exposures (four on 5×7 paper and four on 8×10 paper) and had them out in the sun by 10 AM. A little after 4 PM (i.e. a six hour exposure), I removed the paper from the frame and sprayed with a solution of washing soda (sodium carbonate). This changes the bright neon yellow of the turmeric to the nice red-brown you see here and (hopefully) stabilizes the print against further changes upon exposure to more light. Borax is more commonly used for this and gives a fairly neutral brown. I like the red-brown seen here better!

I think these four might just get matted!

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