Category Archives: Work in progress

Cyanotype experiments at Grezzo – chemicals in the cantina

Following on from the successful Austinmer cyanotype experiments, I have bought cyanotype chemicals to make my own. I brought the dry chemicals, along with the necessary instruments (scales, measuring cylinder, brown glass bottles, syringes) to Grezzo. I used the cantina (a naturally dark and cool space) as my lab. 

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Cone shadows continued

In viewing the cone shadow footage I realised that I need to decide if the projection should just be on a single surface, such as the back wall, or floor. This could use a shadow puppet arrangement, with the camera filming from behind a translucent screen. This could also work for filming the floor – the camera would be under the floor, which would also show the footprints of the forms, as well as their shadows. It would need to be strong enough to support the models, i.e. perspex.

The clip above takes the previous footage and only shows the back wall. I think this works well, although the shadow of the side wall and ceiling should be avoided by removal of these elements from the model. Again, the texture of the back wall is particularly strong, and a neutral surface may work better and act as a “screen” to receive the projection of the moving shadows.

Cone shadows

This is a test of a cone shadows model, using the found card as the “space” into which the cones’ shadows are projected. The intention is that the form of the cones is communicated entirely by the shadows, and this form is reconstructed by the mind of the viewer/reader.

The two edits below are made from the same piece of time-lapse footage (shot at 1frame/0.5 seconds), taken while the sunshine was very intermittent. The left hand edit just speeds up the entire recording to 120x real-time, while the right hand version edits out all of the sections where the sunlight has disappeared, and then speeds it up to 60x real-time, to allow more time for the moving shadows of the cones.

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Silk cone found object models

For the reconvening of the Austinmer International Knitting Circle I had brought yarn to dye with eucalyptus leaves. The silk yarn once skeined left three perforated grey card cones. The grey card is similar to that commonly used for architectural models, and the form of the cones and perforations made an interesting found object, both externally and internally. I thought this would be an interesting object to film, and the three cones matched the three Yi cameras.

I used the camera mount wall from the three Yi model to hold the cameras while I filmed. I taped tracing paper over the holes at the top of the cones to obscure the view through this aperture.

In the simple edit above the first image was shot singly on day 1. The second and third were shot simultaneously on day 2 and the fourth and fifth on day 3. On both the second and third days I filmed with three cameras, but one each day one stopped filming very early. This repeated problem needs investigation.

As with the light modulator model, the footage at dusk was particularly enjoyable.

I would like to also film the shadows these objects create as a trio.

Cyanotype camera/room filmed

When the exposed cyanotype net was refolded back into a room the effect of the sun “shadows” on the space was particularly effective. The model was just large enough to film from the short end. I made a small number of test footage of some of the cyanotype print rooms.


The footage is filmed in time-lapse at 1 frame every half a second, effectively at 12x speed. The main part of the footage above is shown at this recording rate. However, the initial section of moving sunlight is then sped up again by a factor of 20, so 240x real time. The final section of fading light is sped up to a total of 900x real time.

These were not placed back in the same location, orientation and time as the original exposures, so the sunlight did not align with its own “shadows”. For future pieces I would ensure that a precise relocation into the original exposure location could be undertaken. The filming should start before the time of commencement of the original exposure. The filming would need to take place in the days following the exposure to ensure the sun is in an almost identical location.

Cyanotype room/camera – prints

The prints from the cyanotype room/camera models are recorded below. I preferred the print to have the window wall at the bottom, so that it connected directly with the shadows on the floor. Occasionally I exposed them the other way up. On the 20th April (when most of the tests were conducted) there was intermittent sun and cloud all day. This had the effect that the solid dark blue “shadows” of the sunlight are not continuous, rather each marks the time the sun emerged from behind clouds.

Test 1: 19/04/17, 16:05 | Exposure: ~ 1/2 hr  | Orientation: not recorded, approx. NW


Test 2: 20/04/17, 08:30 | Exposure: ~ 1 hr  | Orientation: not recorded, approx NE


Test 3: 20/04/17, 11:00 | Exposure: ~ 1.5 hrs  | Orientation: North


Test 4: 20/04/17, 13:32 | Exposure: ~ 2 hrs  | Orientation: North


Test 5: 20/04/17, 13:29 | Exposure: ~ 3 hrs  | Orientation: West


Test 6: 20/04/17, 14:50 | Exposure: ~ 1.5 hrs  | Orientation: North West


Test 7: 21/04/17, 08:38 | Exposure: ~ 1.25 hrs  | Orientation: North East (but ~10º off)


Test 8: 21/04/17, 10:03 | Exposure: ~ 2.5 hrs  | Orientation: North


Test 9: 21/04/17, 12:26 | Exposure: ~ 3 hrs  | Orientation: North


Test 10: 24/04/17, 10:10 | Exposure: ~ 2.5 hrs  | Orientation: North


Cyanotype camera/room model

While in NSW, visiting Jo, Redmond and Hollis this Easter I did some work with cyanotypes. Redmond is a cyanotype expert, and introduced me to the technique nearly 10 years ago (the pictures below shows him in December 2007 doing an exposure test strip in the back garden of their old house).

I wanted to combine the work with models and sunlight with the cyanotype process. This idea emerged in a supervision conversation in July last year, in response to a discussion about sunlight’s effect on architectural materials, over time, such as fading. I was interested to explore how this could be expressed through the use of a light sensitive material such as cyanotype. In London I have only made cyanotype through using sunprint paper, as I wasn’t fully familiar with the chemicals needed to make my own paper. I thought that my spell in Austinmer was a perfect opportunity to avail myself of Redmond’s help in finally undertaking this experiment.

As I wanted to undertake a number of tests, I devised a small model so that I wasn’t using too much cyanotype chemical and Redmond’s high quality art paper. The model was designed to have a removable front wall, that could be swapped out with versions with different window apertures. The proportions of the model were based on the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio for the back wall, and a rotated 9:16 ratio for the side walls.


As I wanted to conduct several experiments at one time (and it was likely they would need long exposures to ensure the movement of the sun had some noticeable effect) I made four copies of the model with about 8 different window configurations. Jo kindly donated some foam-core, and lent me one of her many cutting mats, and I used my travel model-making kit to construct the models, which were pinned, rather than glued, to allow for dismantling and transport back to the UK.


The models were 80mm wide by 25mm deep and 45mm high (drawn at 1:1 in my notebook). The resulting “room” was therefore approximately 1:100, and of a similar proportion to a digital camera, which felt apt as I was using the room to act as a form of camera (itself Italian for “room”). The models were wrapped in black paper to prevent light bleed through the foam board and joints.

The first two exposures did not have the orientation recorded, but subsequently I made a North line to ensure the orientation was specifically determined and recorded.

The exposures were all recorded with iPhone photos which logged the time of commencement and end of each exposure. These, along with orientation and window configuration were logged into my notebook, and the test number was noted on the back of each print.