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The Cyanotype process is one of the earliest forms of Photography. Sir John Herschel, Astronomer and Chemist, is credited with its invention. He was searching for a way to copy his scientific notes. In 1842 he developed this process which combined light sensitive chemicals and exposed them to UV rays. When an object or negative is placed on top of a coated surface the result is a replica of that image on a Prussian blue background.

The word Cyanotype is derived from the Greek work Cyan and translates to ‘dark blue impression.’

Anna Atkins was a friend and neighbour of Herschel's and he introduced her to this technique. She was a member of the Botanical Society of London and accomplished botanical illustrator. In 1843 she became the first person to ever illustrate a book with photographic images using the Cyanotype process. It was called “Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions”

Today a copy is available to view at the Natural History Museum in London. Her stunning images have stood the test of time and to this day inspire and delight those who view them. 

The Cyanotype process eventually became used commercially in the printing of architectural plans; blueprints. This was the common method of reproduction until the 1950s when more modern methods were introduced. 

Cyanotype as an artistic technique had a resurrection in the 1960’s when the Alternative Process community and artists such as Man Ray rediscovered it. 

Today there is a flourishing community of artists across the world who use Cyanotype as their method of choice. 

The Cyanotype process is simple. Chemicals, usually Potassium ferricyanide and Ferric ammonium citrate, are combined to create a light reactive solution which is applied to a porous surface. An object or negative is applied on top and then it is exposed to UV light. The image is then fixed in a water bath and left to dry and develop for 24 hours. 
Although the process appears straightforward within it there are numerous alterations that can be made along each step of the way, resulting in an incredible variety of outcomes. The nature of the cyanotype process and the endless combination of techniques and materials results in an image that is absolutely unique.  


marita wai cyanotype blue and white, botanical, original art, alternative phottography pro

Original Cyanotype Print Care

Please keep your Cyanotype out of direct sunlight. If, over time, your artwork has faded, remove it to a dark place and within two weeks, as if by magic, it will be restored to the original Prussian blue colour. All Cyanotypes are made on archival paper and should last many years. 

This is does not work apply to giclee prints, although they can last up to 200 years it is advisable to keep them out of direct sunlight for best preservation. 

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A Forest Story


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