Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New from Old, bringing in the new year with some 'Old School' goodness

Tonkinese infantrymen with French officer. Photographer unknown. Tea toned Cyanotype print.
About a month ago whilst scouring eBay for bits and pieces for my other interest, military badges relating to the French colonies in Indochina, I stumbled across these old glass-plate negatives taken in Tonkin (North Vietnam) towards the end of the 19th Century. ... And as old/alternative processes are my thing, it was just something that I just had to have, the plan being to produce some prints and muck around with hand coloring. 
Some of the glass plate negatives and their box as I found them on eBay
Anyway, they arrived a fortnight ago and I haven't really had much time to do anything with them yet, but last night, whilst everybody was seeing in the new year, I decided to mix up some Cyanotype chemistry and knock out a few test prints this morning. 
This was never meant to be a serious print making session so after contact printing I decided to tone the Cyanotypes, using a few teabags and then just hang them on the washing line to dry
Portrait of a Tonkinese gentleman. Photographer unknown. Tea toned Cyanotype

French Colonial officer. Photographer unknown. Tea toned Cyanotype.
Generally the negatives, which measure 12 x 17cm are in reasonably good condition although a couple lack some density in the shadow areas due to underexposure but overall, quite 'printable'. It's been stinking hot here in Perth over the past week or so and the UV levels are high, so a 'quick' 15 minute exposure under the sun, wash under running water and voila, my first prints for 2013... using negatives over a hundred years old a process developed in 1856, the sun, tea and running water. Yep, I'm a Luddite.