For the background to this story you will need to look back to my posts in July and October 2017. Not giving up despite the setbacks of last year, I can now report progress.
The new camera needs at least to defeat the problems of 2017. One constraint remains – spinach is still the preferred light-sensitive material, and its sensitivity is very low. The f/2 lens is not really fast enough, but nothing faster is in sight, so we are committed to one exposure taking the whole summer. There is also no large budget for this experiment.
We have belt and braces to keep the paper dry and fungus-free – the sealed can, a bag of Molecular Sieve 3a (a desiccant) lying inside the camera, and a pinch of thymol fungicide mixed into the spinach juice coating the paper.
However, before the 3-month trial using anthotype, it seemed prudent to run a 2-day exposure with cyanotype paper. I’d tried this in the first camera, and knew that would be the right exposure. Remember that the lens is a totally uncorrected single plano-convex lens intended as half of a condenser.
The test was successful, so on to anthotype. The paper is smooth drawing paper, double-coated with spinach; the juice made with a hand-held blitzer and filtered off with a coffee filter, a pinch of thymol crystals added. No ethanol but a little water was added.
The aim was to prevent mould by a combination of a sealed environment, thymol and desiccant. That was a complete success, and when removed after three months the paper was dry to the touch and free from mould or fungus - unlike in 2017. The camera was pointed at the same scene as the cyanotype exposure, so we are looking for the same image as that. You can distinguish the main structure of the building – it looks better if you stand back and try for an overall impression – but much lower contrast and nowhere near the amount of detail to be seen in the cyanotype.
So was this a successful experiment? I would say definitely yes! As far as I know this is the first published in-camera anthotype. I confidently expect there to be very few others, this is not likely to be a new trending practice in photography. With exposure times of three summer months barely adequate to produce an image, only a few subjects are even possible, and the prospects of a body of work are near zero. However, a result was achieved against significant odds.
It is also worth noting that the test method, using cyanotype paper in-camera, is also hardly ever done but is a lot more promising as a practical technique. With exposures in single figures of days, you could certainly contemplate a series of images, of a rather magical nature.
As for me, though, I shall declare success and move on.
An occasional and irregular blog, mostly of photographic experimentation and photographic history.
Copyright © 2023 by John Marriage