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Showing posts from 2016

Epson 3800 of doom and despair

It's hopeless. Printers hate us. Our promised savior, the Epson 3800, has clogged print heads. We've soaked them in Ammonia Windex, we purchased special stuff to squirt through the darn ultra-tiny nozzles. We've run endless ink-wasting cleaning cycles. Alas: still clogged. Perhaps we will learn to love the lines through our prints, as if they are retro-cool TV scan lines. Perhaps not. If you are reading this, please consider sending us lots and lots of money for a new printer. Thank you for your support. Paypal accepted.

Hello Cyanotype, meet Hydrogen Peroxide

You've exposed your cyanotype print and it just looks weird. You put it in a tray of water, and it looks better after a while, but still not all that wonderful. You dry it and wait three days for it to oxidize, or you could do something really fun: drop it into a tray of water with a little hydrogen peroxide. Be sure so say "Bam!"

Cyanotypes: What we've learned

Success! After a year of crazy-making problems, we think we're there. We may not be perfect, but we are functional. Here are a few things we changed along the way.
We are using the Photographers Formulary New Cyanotype Kit. We ground and mixed the chemicals. It all seems to work. We did have better results adding more citric acid than the few drops the instructions recommend. When we only added a little we got yellow stains.
We tried coating with a glass rod, but we never seemed to get enough emulsion on the paper. Also, we tended to get horizontal stripes where the subtle change in pressure of the rod affected the thickness of the emulsion. Perhaps it's the paper we used. Even though it uses more chemistry, we had better results with a sponge brush. After we decided that we wanted more emulsion, we tried applying one thick coat versus two thin coats. Two thin coats (the nail-polish system, as Jaime calls it) worked better. We allowed the first coat to nearly dry, than added …

Cyanotype Success at last

I think we're on the right road at last. We've made several changes to get to this point. Using the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 helped. It's the first printer that didn't fight us every step of the way with software issues, density problems, refusal to feed transparency material and clogged jets.

Having a printer we could trust let us get our adjustment curves closer to right than they've ever been.

We also made a few changes to our procedure. We gave up on coating with a rod. We just couldn't get the dark blue we wanted. Now we use a sponge brush. We coat, dry a while and coat again. It may use more chemistry, but it seems to be working.

We had a mental breakthrough on drying coated paper as well. We'd been letting it sit, but today we hung it on a line. It dried with less puddling, and a lot more quickly as well.

We'd been using a small contact frame. It worked, but it meant we could only expose one sheet at a time. We liberated a flat board, found some fo…

The joy of test grids and new printers

We were so excited to have the Epson CX 7400 as a replacement for the Epson 1270. Excited until we went to use it for the second time and discovered that the black wouldn't print any longer. We ran head cleaner, we tried the Windex on the paper towel trick . It just wasn't going to work.
Heroic Eric™ came through with a different printer. A wonderful Epson Stylus Pro 3800. We were thrilled to have yet another printer to calibrate. But this time, much to our amazement, it went well and seems to have worked. We have our best test grid results so far. Here's hoping that translates to actual prints soon.

The Cyanotype Conspiracy vs Epson

When we determined our Epson 1270 printer was no longer going to work for us due to Mac OS upgrades (Thanks for not updating your drivers, Epson...) we were thrilled a to find an Epson CX7400 we could use. Thrilled, at least until we tried to use it. Though we'd purchased new ink and run a paper text, when we tried to print at transparency the film just zipped through the printer and didn't print.

We checked Epson's site and got the shortest answer we'd ever seen.

The heck with them, we thought. We taped our transparency to a sheet of white paper. After a few failures we tried scotch tape all the way across the leading edge and it worked! Take that, Epson.
We made a new test negative, coated some paper and discovered we're near the right settings with our curves. We were, however, surprised to discover that at noon in February on an slightly overcast day our exposure was still around 7 to 8 minutes. We expected longer.

Interesting Failures

Here's a real news flash: yet another day of mysterious failures. On our last attempt, we were pretty successful, perhaps the closest we've ever been. However, we didn't really know which negative we were using since we pulled it out of a pile of old negatives that, of course, have not been labeled with any useful information like which curve had been applied to it or what printer settings was used to print it. And even though it was winter, it was still a clear day with direct sun which made our exposure time 18 minutes.

But this time, it was thick overcast sky and it had been raining the past few days so it was just more moisture in the air. We got the printer working but we had forgotten the exact combination of printer settings that we had used in the past.

We used the knowledge of the vast internet to ask how does the amount of uv light compare on a cloudy day versus a sunny day. We found mixed answers, so supposedly it can be anywhere from 70 to 90% less uv on a clou…