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Treasures found pressed between the pages of an old sketchbook…
digital doodling pressed petal patterns…
(they remind me of these cyanotypes)
I took advantage of my time spent recently in the powerful and abundant South African sunshine to experiment with some ‘Sunography‘ paper I’d bought several years ago at the MoMA museum shop in NYC. The paper is a beautiful heavy-weight cold-pressed cotton watercolour paper treated with photographic chemicals which make it (sun)light sensitive on both sides. Sunlight sensitive paper (the cyanotype) was a forerunner of modern photographic processes – invented in 1842 by Sir John Herschel and popularised by one of the first female photographers, Anna Atkins, in her very beautiful series of cyanotypes depicting British algae, ferns and other plant-life.
The process is wonderfully simple:
on a sunny day…
gather interesting objects
(whatever you have close at hand)
arrange them on sheets of sunography paper
and expose them to sunlight
(I exposed mine for between 71/2 and 81/2 minutes in very bright sunlight. The longer you expose the paper to the sunlight the deeper the resultant blue, but bear in mind that exposure time will impact on the detail achieved, which will also partly be determined by the transparency/opacity of the individual objects used. Cover flat objects with a sheet of glass to keep them in place on the paper during exposure – this is especially important if there is any wind about)
rinse the exposed prints
(using ordinary tap water)
hang up to dry
et voilà!… sunlight immortalised!
The results are infinitely pleasing, and the simplicity of the process makes it a very rewarding way to spend a lazy, sunny, summer holiday afternoon.
Hmm, now I think I’ll have to start planning another trip to NYC to get my hands on some more Sunography paper ;)
Oh, another week gone by at breakneck speed! Some deadlines met, others still looming… but that tune’s getting old so I’m not going to hum it here.
Instead I thought I’d take a bit of time out to get up close and personal with two of my handsome neighbours…
[an aldabra tortoise and a pink pelican]
P.S. While on the subject of beasties, last weekend I went to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year (2009) exhibition at the Museon in Den Haag – it’s a really stunning collection of very beautiful and fascinating images and if it’s on in your town do go and check it out. I have no doubt in my mind that you’ll be glad you did.
[@ the Natural History Museum London UK | @ Iziko Cape Town ZA (exhibition ends tomorrow, 13 March!) | @ Australian Museum Sydney AU | … and possibly lots of other places too?]
P.P.S. To all you lovely folk who have left such nice comments on recent posts – thank you! Ordinarily I’d like to try and respond properly & individually and I’m sorry I haven’t been able to do that recently. But it doesn’t mean your visits & comments don’t mean a lot to me… in fact, when the old nose is rubbed raw by the grindstone that ‘connection’ probably means even more. Thanks :)