Cyanotype Photography

“The difficulty of making accurate drawings of objects
so minute as many of the Algae and Confervae
has induced me to avail myself of
Sir John Herschel’s beautiful process of Cyanotype,
to obtain impressions of the plants themselves,
which I have much pleasure in
offering to my botanical friends.”
Anna Atkins

Cyanotype Photography

There has been a few different styles of photography through the years, but one I’ve always thought was beautiful is cyanotype. It’s actually obtained not through photography but through a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print.

The process was discovered in 1842 by an English scientist and astronomer, Sir John Herschel. He developed cyanotype mainly as a means of reproducing notes and diagrams, such as blueprints. But, it was Anna Atkins a botanist and photographer who brought this popular processing style to photography in the 1840s.

Atkins created a limited series of cyanotype books that documented ferns and other plant life from her extensive seaweed collection. She would place specimens directly onto coated paper, allowing the action of light to create a silhouette effect. Anna Atkins is regarded as the first female photographer and also the mother of cyanotype photography.

Shine On

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10 thoughts on “Cyanotype Photography

  1. This is really interesting. I love ferns. Like really love them. When I first saw the picture I immediately got an image of a painting flowing underwater in a lake. I have never heard of this type of photography before. Thank you for this article.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a mentored photographic assistant, I had to make a few of these, and appreciate the thought that goes to finding the right shape and form to work with. Also not so apparent in any electronic rendition is the wonderful rich enveloping tones that the print process brings.
    Try as i might in various software, I’ve found it impossible to represent that tonal quality. However it hasn’t stopped me from trying.
    Lovely to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never heard of it before, Julie. It’s reminiscent of a fossil to me. I did a google search on it and found some pretty amazing examples, in addition to the one you’ve posted here. Thanks for sharing it!

    Liked by 2 people

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