Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 30 Behind The Scenes

There is a tradition amongst the members of The Photography Scavenger Hunt of showing how their various clever images came to be. Normally this is a "Here is how I made this particularly clever shot" sort of thing. Not this one. This is about the whole series of images. And I'm not actually going to show any of the ones I used. 

Why? Because I'd like to think that I have been especially clever this round, even if I did not submit all ten images. And because it is so cool!

First up, I have used a bunch of cameras. No big surprise there, lots of people do. But this is one of them.

Mk1 Camera.

There are a couple of special things about this camera. Firstly is that I built it myself. The second is that it has no shutter. 

"Wait!", I hear you interject, "If it has no shutter, how do you control the exposure?"

The answer lays in the the other side of the equation. What it is that I am shooting onto. Because it is not photographic film. Or even photographic paper.

Paper preparation

I am shooting directly onto prepared watercolour paper. One of the hunt photos is onto commercial paper, but the rest are onto paper I have sensitised myself.

What am I preparing it with? Cyanotype solutions. I have a couple of them I am experimenting with, but both are cyanotype process mixes.

My materials

I've got a series of posts here on the topic, where I go into a lot of detail about what I have learned over the part three months, including how to build a dedicated camera for the process using pretty much just junk. Here is another of the cameras:
Mk4 Camera

Because I am shooting with long exposures and UV light, plus using extremely dodgy lenses, I am getting some quite surreal results. I have joked with some of my friends that this is so old, I have gone past hipster, and come out the other side! And yet, doing some research, this is all really new. The first time (as far as I can tell) that someone used the 1842 cyanotype chemistry directly in a camera was... wait for it ... 1999! 

The negative and two alternate processings.

The other aspect is that it is extraordinary fun. You have to estimate your exposures in terms of quarter-hours, not fractions of a second. Lightmeters are useless, because you are interested in the UVA, not visible light. And you need to be patient and careful with your setup. But you get the results almost instantly! On top of all that, it is so cheap to do, you can play almost as much as you do with digital - but freed from the normal constraints of 'good' photography.

The Mk 5 Camera and 'film' holder.

This has even led to me running my first photographic workshop. Not about composition, or compositing, or anything like that. No, I taught people to build cameras, and handed them several sheets of cyanotype paper to use them with. By that afternoon, I had people showing me the results - and they were amazing to see. 

So, not your usual behind-the-scenes.


  1. Thank you for letting me play with your new discoveries. I can't believe that I've built three cameras now...

  2. This is absolutely inspiring and amazing! Thanks for sharing this.

  3. I just came across your link via the Hunt round and this is great Rob. I can't believe you build the camera's. What an amazing way you created the hunt photos. I recently purchased the chemicals to start playing with cyanotypes as well and can't wait to start experimenting :)

    1. Awesome! What lead you to start down the cyanotype path?


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