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.


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