Photographs by Frank

5 September 2022

More Cuprotypes

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Cuprotype — Frank @ 7:30 PM

I have spent some time since my last post (two weeks ago!) exploring/experimenting with cuprotypes. I have tried a number of negatives, a number of papers and even made a cuprotype on cloth.

I have decided that this alternative process has most of the characteristics of a good process for beginning alt process printers. Thus cuprotype offers an interesting alternative (to cyanotype*) in teaching this realm of photography.

The materials for cuprotype are inexpensive. It is easy to coat paper with the sensitizer and one can use a wide range of papers as they come from suppliers for cuprotype. Furthermore, the processing of exposed paper is relatively simple (although it is more complex that cyanotype).

All of the prints shown here are smallish prints such as I typically make. However, given the simplicity and inexpensiveness of the process, I have also made a couple of 11×14 inch cuprotypes**. These are the largest alternative process prints I have even made. Exciting!

Last Saturday, I showed these cuprotypes to my monthly print sharing group which meets at the Vermont Center for Photography (VCP) in Brattleboro. The folks at the VCP have twisted my arm and I’ll be teaching a workshop on cuprotype there this fall. This is in addition to the beginning Lightroom class that we already had in the works. The details of both of these events will be published on the VCP website when we get everything finalized. Once a teacher, always a teacher, I guess!

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Church, Monhegan Island (Cuprotype)
Church, Monhegan Island (Cuprotype)
Tip Top House, Mt Washington (Cuprotype)
Tip Top House, Mt Washington (Cuprotype)
Wood & Stone (Cuprotype)
Wood & Stone (Cuprotype)
Bellows Falls (Cuprotype, untoned)
Bellows Falls (Cuprotype, untoned)
Harvest Still Life (Cuprotype)
Harvest Still Life (Cuprotype)
Stone Curch, Antrim, NH (Cuprotype, untoned, on muslin)
Stone Curch, Antrim, NH (Cuprotype, untoned, on muslin)

* Cyanotype is the typical entry point into alternative process printing. Being iron based, it is inexpensive and the ‘mechanics’ of the process are fairly simple. Many folks never progress to the more complex and expensive processed which involve precious metals (silver, platinum, palladium). Cuprotype is much closer to cyanotype in its cost and complexity than it is to the other alternative processes. Lastly, Cuprotype with its red/brown tonality is a good adjunct to the blue of cyanotype.

** I don’t have a scanner larger enough for 11×14 inch prints, so folks will have to come for a visit to see them!

15 August 2022

Nothing Precious

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Cuprotype — Tags: — Frank @ 9:00 PM

I spent Saturday experimenting with a newly rediscovered and modified process for making prints.

The Obernetter process, first described in the 1860s, uses iron and copper* to make brick-red images on paper. The pigment produced by this process is, most likely, Hatchett’s Brown (i.e. Cu(II) Ferrocyanide).

Several years ago, this process was updated by Jim Patterson (see: https://www.darkroomdoc.com/post/cuprotype).

A couple of weeks ago, Jan de Young posted on PhoTrio.com the results of an ‘out there’ experiment involving the reuse of used photographic fixer to make a print from a negative. Initially, I (and others) thought that Jan’s process was a variant of Van Dyke brown printing.

One thing lead to another and another fellow, Niranjan Patel (whom I have never met but that I feel I know well from his presence on various alt photo sites) posted to the altphoto email list, his take on these processes. Niranjan made the key discovery that silver (from the spent fixer) plays no role in this process and thus these images are not at all related to Van Dyke brown prints but rather are more accurately described as cuprotypes (i.e. copper-based images).

I won’t bore you with the technical details as I have posted them to the altphoto email discussion cited above. However, here are three examples on three different papers.

All three prints were made using the same chemistry. The reason for the different hues in final prints is unknown as yet. I’ll be trying a few more experiments in an attempt to understand these differences. However, given the vagaries of these alt processes we may never know.

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Cuprotype on Hahn. Platinum Rag paper (60 min exposure)
Cuprotype on Hahn. Platinum Rag paper (60 min exposure)
Cuprotype on Legion Lenox 100 paper (45 min. exposure)
Cuprotype on Legion Lenox 100 paper (45 min. exposure)
Cuprotype on Rives Heavyweight paper (45 min. exposure)
Cuprotype on Rives Heavyweight paper (45 min. exposure)

* Thus the title of this post… nothing precious as in no precious metals (e.g. silver, gold, platinum or palladium)!

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