Cyanotype In-Camera Imaging - Part 3 - Final Thoughts

38mm f/1.5 120 minutes. Back Garden.
There are two things that are very attractive to me about shooting in-camera images with cyanotype. One is that it is cheap, very cheap. No dark room, no expensive and troublesome to dispose of chemicals, no film - just the solutions and paper. The other is the curious juxtaposition of almost instant availability of the image afterwards against the long period of shooting. 

This is one of the most rewarding aspects of the technique. You have almost instant gratification upon recovering the negative, combined with the forced patience required in setting and taking the shot. Added to that is an amount of uncertainty about exactly how the shot will turn out - because we cannot see exactly how much UV is reflecting off the surfaces being imaged. This makes the process very exciting. Not to mention the sometimes very alien scenes that result.

Combine this with the very limited optical capabilities of also using home-made cameras, and you often get very surreal pictures. With this, the mundane becomes extraordinary, and the extraordinary becomes unimaginable. All within minutes of opening the camera.

So from the point of view of working on compositional technique, it has both the advantages of forced patience and planning (such as required for medium format or large format), and close to the instant gratification of digital. Plus the excitement brought in from the uncertainties from the UV aspect. 

So I suggest everyone give it a go. If you have access to an old medium format or large format camera, use that, and if not (or even if you do), I have given you instructions on how to build one from bits you probably have around the home anyway. And the chemicals are easy to find, and very inexpensive. 

Now, I am going back to planning another shoot. 


  1. I think what really appeals to me with it is the way you can experience what other creatures might be seeing. The really alien viewpoint, from something that I built myself is astonishing. Something that comes out on paper is pretty gratifying too, even if one then digitises it to get the positive. It is just such fun, and I'm kicking myself today that it's going to be raining for a bit now, and is no time to be putting cardboard, or many other cameras out in the sun. I still haven't tried out my new build!


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