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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 cloudy day. What do these numbers mean for our exposure time? 18 minutes worked well on a clear day, therefore 70-90% less uv would make our new exposure anywhere from 1-3 hours. That's really helpful.

We set the coated paper and negative in the contact frame and found a strategic location for it to sit out in the direct cloudy light, which happened to be on some stairs that no one uses, like emergency stairs or service stairs. We set it to the side of the stairs just in case some person walked up them, which didn't seem likely since no one ever uses those stairs. Set our timer for an hour and left it. when we returned we found that someone had moved our contact frame! What's up with that? Who knows how far into the hour was it when it was moved? And who ever moved it was careless and the negative shifted on the paper. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the increased moisture in the air made some kind of chemical reaction in the negative plastic material and it turns all foggy and white. Not a good thing.

Is success anywhere on the horizon? So it was yet another day of failures, but thanks to our mystery mover, it was an interesting failure, at the very least. Our conclusion? Just say "no" to cyanotypes on cloudy days.


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