What Even is This Anyway?

An image from a bleached and toned Lumenbox cyanotype


sonny rosenberg

1/29/20231 min read

Not much admittedly. It's from a cyanotype paper negative taken with my Lumenbox. The negative was bleached in sodium carbonate, toned and then inverted in Lightroom.

You may (justifiably) wonder why if the paper negative was inverted, is it still blue? The bleaching took almost all of the blue out of the paper, leaving just a very faded yellowish image, I then toned it in wine tannin for just a few minutes where it acquired a warm, dark brown hue. When the brown image was inverted it gave the resultant blue image you see here.

This particular image is so full of flaws, that it's almost laughable. Still, I find it has a certain charm maybe? What me biased? It's from a scrap of paper that was very unevenly coated with the cyanotype sensitizing solution. I've said it before and I'll say it again, some people refer to the sensitizer solution as cyanotype emulsion. I contend that a solution is not an emulsion and I'm sticking to that story until I'm proven wrong.

Even though this exposure was over 50 hours long (with the camera taped to the inside of a window) I don't believe it was long enough. I 'think' that a longer exposure would have given me richer, darker blues in the original negative, leading to a higher contrast image when bleached and toned. Or so I conjecture. I actually know sh*t about this process, which you may have already discerned.

In spite of my lack of wits or concrete knowledge, here's what we got for today. Someday I hope to post a truly stunning bleached and toned cyanotype contact printed from a 5x7 negative. Sigh.