Cyanotype – A practical guide

And so, another book appeared in the Library of Alternative Photographic Processes. This time it is about cyanotype printing, a technique that is probably the most popular of all and at the same time the most underappreciated, not to say neglected.

It is the most popular, because, at least at first sight, it appears to be laughably easy. You just take two chemical compounds, two solutions that can be bought at Alternative Photographic Supplies, mix them at the rate of 1:1, coat on your paper, dry, apply the negative, place in sunlight for a few minutes, then put in a tray of water and voile, you have a print. It would seem few things can be simpler, easier. This apparent simplicity encourage most people interested in historical photography to start their adventure with cyanotype printing.

At the same time the technique is often taken lightly for the very same reasons; at first sight it appears to be simple, not to say primitive and to offer few creative possibilities. After all, if something is that ease, it can’t be versatile, can it? And this unfortunate blue colour that only sometimes fits the composition.

Once I have finished working on a book devoted to carbon transfer printing, I decided to take on the myth of excessive simplicity and limited possibilities that have always plagued cyanotype and to show the whole range of possibilities it offers. Months of research and tests, both of old and modern texts allowed me to collect material whose richness proved surprising even to myself. Starting with a variety of recipes, through various means by which the contrast of resulting prints can be affected as well as various methods of toning prints and ending with much less typical solutions such as cyanotype prints on glass. Finally, all the work has been summed up in my latest book, the longest of all that I have written on historical printing. You are most welcome to read and assess it.

The book, so far only in Polish (English version coming next year) can be ordered here: