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Introduction to Alternative Processing in Photography

Lesson 23 of 49

Making the Cyanotype Print


Introduction to Alternative Processing in Photography

Lesson 23 of 49

Making the Cyanotype Print


Lesson Info

Making the Cyanotype Print

So we coated one earlier. So now it's dry. What we're gonna do now is we'll take that negative and this is the sensitizer side. The negative side it goes ink to sensitizer. So the ink side hits the sensitizer side. That goes in the contact frame. Sorry I was freaking out the look of the plastic underneath there looked like water. I was freaking myself out with the protective plastic. Okay, contact frame goes in. Now this has got a butterfly enclosure with compression here, there's also ones you'll see that have little snap edges around the edge. I prefer these cause they put enough compression into the image and that negative and that paper need to stay as tight together as possible or the image comes out fuzzy and out of focus. So occasionally you might even put an extra piece of paper in there to cause that compression to happen but the ones that clip I have found that the clips will start to lose their tension after a time and it becomes harder to keep a nice tension where this if i...

t starts to bend you can just bend the spring a little bit and it'll close back up. These come in a variety of sizes. And if you know how to build frames, they wouldn't be hard to make but they work like that. And once they're in it looks like that. Now the cyana type is a print out process. So what that means is we don't need a developer for the image to show up. So if you're working out under the sunlight, you don't know how long you need the exposure to make which is the other reason a contact frame like this is good because this is called a split back. What that allows me to do is, I can undo one side, and then I can peel back and take a peek, and then close it back up and see if it's exposed enough. Cyana types need to be a little bit overexposed, they need to be a little bit more exposure than you think you're gonna need because the washing process bleaches the highlights and pulls some of the detail out of the highlights. So we want a little more exposure there but we'll be able to see the image in the printing process. Now in our case because we did the recommended time earlier I already know that it's about three minutes, three minutes and 15 seconds. For the image to show up. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna put this in the box, in here, we'll set the timer for three fifteen, we'll get that going, and that will start the exposure process while that's happening, we're gonna race over here, we're gonna bring over the water trays so you can see the next part of the process and then we're gonna repeat the loop again. So I'm gonna take this, I'm gonna slide this underneath, and then I start the timer, now that's going, we're gonna bring over a couple of trays, what we need, to process this is we need water. So it's a very very, like I said there's a lot of chemistry involved in the cyana type, had A and B and now we need water. So what happens in the water is we need three trays. The first tray is just a water bath, where we're just gonna rinse the image. And you're gonna start to see the image get some of that cyana type look but a little bit of it's gonna wash out. The second bath is gonna have water plus, it's a splash, but a little bit of hydrogen peroxide in it. This is the hydrogen peroxide you get at the drug store. Not at the hair salon store. This is 3%, the hydrogen peroxide for bleaching hair is 30% and that will fully bleach your print. The last tray is the final wash. The final wash trays job is just to continue to put the finishing wash on there. If you don't fully wash out the print will fade. And the highlights will start to disappear. So we measure in the amount of water here is just enough for the print to be submerged. Somewhere, in a tray this size, liter, liter and a half. Liter, liter and a half. Usually this is running water, lightly running water, so if we had access to a sink we would actually just have this water change cycles about every two to three minutes. To wash it but since we don't have running water, we'll put in a little extra water here and then we'll give it constant agitation. Cyana types in the environment you can rinse them like Megan Ripenhoff is an amazing cyana type artist, she works with the ocean, so she prints her cyana types in the ocean and it's the movement of the waves that actually cause the processing on that. Question? Is the temperature of the water any factor in this or? Not a huge factor. Usually I do it at about room temperature. So it doesn't have, it has a little effect in terms of how the contrast will, but it's not enough that I, I wouldn't want it really cold. But like I said you can use a stream if you want. For that. Also Daniel I see that you have lovely Gina who is helping you today, maybe you can introduce her for us. Thank you that's very nice, Gina would appreciate that. So this is one of my colleagues, Gina White, Gina is an amazing fine art photographer, and she specializes in a lot of alternative processes and has been doing that for going on about 10 years with the processing and so she's spent a lot of time experimenting and we're gonna look at some of her work that she does, cyana types, on van dykes, toning, manipulation of the image. Came out of a traditional background and has just recently moved into alternative processing but she's an instructor at the Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle as well where she teaches a lot of the analog film processes, digital negatives, alternative processing, broom oil, lift, all sorts of other printing processes out of the dark room, and I'm excited for her help cause this would be a lot to try to figure out myself. So thanks for being here Gina. Thanks. Okay so we're coming up on the three minute mark being done, we're gonna close that up. That'll then buzz an make a really obnoxious noise, we'll turn that off. Then we're gonna pull the contact frame out. I'll make a quick adjustment here, and then, over here you can see the negative, the print's actually there, so we see the detail that's within the print, and it's kinda got that greenish blue kinda color and that's the start of the process. What we'll do now is finish up the contact frame, we'll close that off, pull that out. I then always set the lid so it doesn't hit the negative. Now, here's what the latent image looks like. It's just going to go into the water bath at this point.

Class Description

In a world where most photos are captured digitally it’s good to remember the beauty of print and all of the creative options alternative processes have to offer. The history of printing photos introduces techniques and tools that can improve your eye in the field and open up doors to new perspectives. Fine artist and educator Daniel Gregory gives the steps needed to get you started in exploring the many formats out there. You’ll learn:

  • An overview of what alternative processing is and the many formats out there
  • How to create a digital negative
  • How to setup and test your curve
  • How to print a Cyanotype
  • How to create a Van Dyke Print
  • Chemistry, Safety and Developing techniques
  • Platinum and Palladium Printing processes

In this introductory course, you’ll be given the key elements to get you started in expanding your creativity and exploring alternative photographic processes.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Overview of the Alternative Process
  3. Overview of the Digital Negative Process
  4. Working with Black and White Digital: What You Need
  5. Working With Black and White Digital Images: Color Settings
  6. Working with Black and White Digital Images Lightroom
  7. Working With Black and White Digital Images Photoshop
  8. Working With Black and White Digital Images 3rd Party Plug-ins
  9. Avoiding Key Artifacts
  10. Creating the Step Wedge for Curve Corrections
  11. Organizing Your Adobe® Photoshop® Files and Curves
  12. Setting Up the Printer
  13. Lab Safety and Workspace Set-Up
  14. Setting the Maximum Black Time
  15. Getting the Initial Curve Test Numbers
  16. Correcting the Curve
  17. Printing the Curve
  18. Sharing Curves
  19. Caring for the Digital Negative
  20. Intro to Cyanotypes and Safety
  21. Paper and Brush Types
  22. Coating Process and Cyanotype Chemistry
  23. Making the Cyanotype Print
  24. Washing the Cyanotype Print
  25. Creating Cyanotypes Photograms
  26. Toning Cyanotypes and Cleaning Up the Darkroom
  27. Introduction to Van Dyke Printing
  28. Setting Up the Van Dyke Workstation
  29. Van Dyke Paper and Coating
  30. Van Dyke Exposure and Developing
  31. Van Dyke Troubleshooting and Resources
  32. Van Dyke: Split Toning
  33. Van Dyke: Wash Cycle and Drying
  34. Van Dyke: Clean Up Process
  35. Introduction to Platinum / Palladium Printing
  36. Platinum/Palladium Coating Chemistry and Safety
  37. Platinum/Palladium Paper and Coating Options
  38. Platinum/Palladium Exposure and Development
  39. Platinum/Palladium: Equipment and Supplies
  40. Ink Jet Negative Coating and Exposure
  41. Platinum/Palladium Chemistry Options
  42. Ink Jet Negative Development
  43. Platinum/Palladium Waxing Images
  44. Platinum/Palladium Troubleshooting and Resources
  45. Sharing Your Work Digitally
  46. Archivability
  47. Matting and Framing Options
  48. Editions and Signing Options
  49. Alternative Processes: Further Exploration



For a long time, I have read, studied and tried alternative processing, mainly Platinum/Palladium printing. I want to create longest lasting prints and may be share the info at Creative Live. But this presentation saved me many a hours. A few minutes into the lecture, I purchased the class and as the class progressed, I was extremely glad. Thank you Creative Live, thank you Daniel Gregory.


Excellent class on Alt Process and fantastic bonus materials included with purchase!!! I have extensive digital printing and darkroom experience but haven't done much alt-process to date. This is perfect timing for me as I have several personal projects that I would like to re-visit using some of these techniques. Thank you Daniel!!!

James H Johnson

I have been making platinum/palladium prints for about 1 year. This is the 3rd workshop that I have attended. The first two were one on one. Daniel has done a fantastic job of covering the material and explained the process it detail and easy to understand. This course is fantastic and highly recommend it.