Tag Archives: cyanotype

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up and Down

It’s been a crazy week.  We had bright, sunny warm skies on Monday, the sugar high of Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, and as we head into a week off from school (our district calls it Family Week), a storm brewed all day with high winds and expectations of lots of rainfall.

Like the kids, I was excited this morning–after school I was heading off to the airport to catch a flight to see my twin grandsons.  But those hopes were dashed when the text came through saying my flight had been canceled.  Ugh!  I’m feeling the roller coaster of the ups and downs of the week.  One look up at the palm trees bordering the school playground made clear why the planes were grounded.  The winds are scary today! (But I’m still disappointed that I’m at home for an extra day instead of playing with my sweet babies!)


That view (today right after lunch) makes it hard to believe that this was my view on a walk after school on Wednesday.  Blue skies with a pelican in flight…and the greens that we have because of all the rainfall we’ve had this winter.  I didn’t even need a jacket as I walked along the shore.


Looking down as I walk is a requirement when the tides toss the rocks onto shore.  There have been huge piles to navigate lately.  I couldn’t resist a shot of this seagull “on the rocks” who was clearly unconcerned about me and my camera.  He let me get quite close!


And the sun made our work with cyanotypes possible this week.  The kids were excited to experiment with photo-sensitve paper, creating a “sun print” by laying objects on the treated paper and then wearing plastic gloves (a highlight!) to rinse the chemicals away after exposing it to the sun.  They learned a lot from their first iteration using natural objects that improved their outcomes with iteration number two.  I love the intersections of science and art!



Looking down on my way into my office at UCSD meant this found still life caught my eye. I love the juxtaposition of the pine cone and the dandelion laying on the grass.


I chuckled as I looked up as I headed out of Starbucks with my coffee to notice this dog in the driver’s seat of the car.  You never know who you will find driving theses days!


So, this is the week to consider your ups and downs.  Look up–what do you see?  Look down, what’s there?  Or maybe consider mood as your filter for ups and downs rather than a literal glance in the up or down direction.

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #upanddown for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Look up, look down–snap, click, post!  Can’t wait to see what you find.



Playing with Cyanotype

Early this year I decided on play for my one little word.  And I have been making time for play on a pretty regular basis.  A lot of my play is related to photography and making time to take photos has me seeking out opportunities to explore that I might not have done otherwise.  I’ve explored places in my community that I have never been before…and I am definitely spending lots of time outdoors, especially on the weekend, rather than doing housework or even reading!

For Mother’s Day this year a manilla envelope arrived in the mail from my son and daughter-in-law.  As I opened it I found a typewritten note and a smaller manilla envelope.  I love the note, knowing that it was typed on a typewriter that my son found left next to the dumpster near his home…and that he typed it.  The note explained that I would find specially treated cyanotype paper that he had prepared for me.  It gave me step by step instructions for using the paper…and included a few “negatives” that I could try if I wanted.

I played around a bit…and then got busy so it has stayed in the envelope until last weekend.  I started thinking about that cyanotype paper and what I wanted to play around with.  As I headed out for my beach walk on Saturday, I purposely looked for shell pieces that would work with this positive/negative kind of exposure (a rudimentary kind of photography).  As we walked I noticed so many different kinds of shells and rocks…and sea glass!  I seldom find sea glass on our beaches, but for some reason pieces of sea glass kept presenting themselves.  We also found quite a few shell structures with holes and openings.

beach finds

When I got home, I pulled out the paper treated with the cyanotype chemicals and laid the shells out.  I took them out for about five minutes of sun exposure, brought the paper back in to rinse to stop the exposure…and here is the resulting cyanotype shell study.

shell cyanotype

I love the dimension of this print.  The way the shadows create an almost three dimensional effect.

This attempt excited me, so I gathered some plant pieces and created an arrangement on another piece of treated paper.

This created an interesting result, but I found that the lightweight plants blow when I put them outside…there were pieces of lavender on the lower left…and they left a faint impression when they blew away.

Then I grabbed a leaf branch from a tree in my backyard and created an arrangement with the beach glass as the grounding.

I like the way the beach glass produced an interesting effect when placed in the sun.  I tried another one today…and won’t subject you to the results.  Playing around with this printing technique is tricky.  Objects that are too dense or too thick create big light splotches that are less interesting and pleasing than those that have opacity or cast interesting shadows that create dimension.

I have only a few pieces of treated paper left…but my son tells me it is easy and relatively cheap to create my own.  I’ve had fun playing with this technique and created some interesting pieces. I think the shell study is my current favorite…although I do like this early piece I did with some dandelions and other weeds from the yard.

dandelion cyanotype

I like that I have been playing enough that others are giving me encouragement and opportunity to play more.  And I know that taking time to play is good for me, good for my family, and good for my students.  I’ve noticed that lots of my play is about making…making photos, circuits, art, movies.  And I’m looking forward to some more play and making when the CLMOOC begins again on Friday.  So maybe this post is a preview of another summer of making…and playing with others through social media and connected learning.  Will you join us and do some of your own connecting, making and playing?