I’m all about getting people easy access to photography and getting them quick wins in terms of making simple projects that look great. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, then you’re in the right place. The Chlorophyll Process in alternative photography is accessible to anyone that can get their hands on some greenery, and simple enough to understand, that even children can participate. I’ve also decided to pair it with a text-based project in the form of hand lettering, which might help to remove any intimidation from traditional photography rules.
A quick rundown
In it’s simplest form, the chlorophyll process is a bleaching process. A leaf is placed outside in the sun and an object (in our case, a printed word on a transparency) is placed on top. Anywhere that is exposed to the sun is bleached over time, while anywhere that was covered is not affected. The one caveat is that it does take time: at least several hours to potentially several days, depending on your geographic location and the time of year.
I’ve been wanting to try this process for a while, and I’m happy that I finally got around to it. It’s still very much an experimental process for me, and I’d probably need to make about 100 more prints before I feel completely comfortable. Still, I thought what I learned in the process could be helpful to you as your starting.
And now, the video
If you’d like to get the rest of the videos in this course, head over to my Skillshare page. Skillshare is an awesome platform that I personally have used to learn all sorts of things. They run great deals for your first 3 months of membership, during which you have access to thousands of great videos on a wide range of creative topics, including mine. If you’re at all interested in continuing to learn and grow as a creative, this platform is well worth being a part of. And who knows, maybe you’ll get inspired to teach your own class someday.
Hello there, you’re probably here because you want to learn more about alternative photography and specifically cyanotype. There is a ton of great free information out there on photographic alt processes, but often it is so much it can feel overwhelming. That’s why I’ve created a series of classes aimed at getting a beginner up and running in the cyanotype medium.
As you can see, this is cyanotype 102. If you want the absolute basics, I’d recommend going to my post, Cyanotype 101. There you’ll learn the foundations of cyanotype as well as how to use pre-coated cyanotype papers to make your first cyanotypes. In this class, we’ll take things to the next level and learn how to actually mix your own paper and hand coat your own papers.
And why would you want to do that?
Well, to a certain degree it is personal preference, but many people would also say it opens up possibilities artistically. Ultimately, mixing your own chemistry and providing your own paper gives you more control over the final aesthetic, and ultimately, control is what allows you to execute your artistic vision. So if you’re interested in alternative processes at all, I’d recommend mixing your own to get the full effect of the medium.
On to the video!
If you want to continue this course, the rest of the videos are available through Skillshare. If you’ve never heard of it, Skillshare is a video course platform aimed especially at creative projects. I now have several courses available and plan to continue adding more. With every class, I offer you can post the project you were able to make as a result. I’d love to see your cyanotype work and help you improve your skills as an alternative photographer.
To continue on to the rest of the class, click here.
I’ve recently begun teaching classes through Skillshare.com. If you’ve never heard of it, Skillshare is a video course platform aimed especially at creative projects. I’ve got several different series of classes planned, but the first I plan to develop fully is all about Cyanotype. In the series I’ll take someone from being an absolute beginner using pre-coated sun printing paper up through advanced techniques of large scale prints, creating digital negatives, toning finished prints, printing on multiple materials and mixing your own chemicals.
Cyanotype is my favorite alternative process because it has a very low bar of entry in terms of required materials (you expose it in the sun and develop it in regular tap water), it is very forgiving, and it can be used to create a very wide range of looks.
Skillshare does require a membership, but if you click on my referral link, you get 2 months for free. That means you can watch every class I’ve uploaded (2 right now and more soon to come) as well as over 10,000 other skillshare videos for free for the first 2 months. There are a huge range of topics, including art, design, craft, photography and beyond, for all skill levels.
One cool feature on every Skillshare class is that you are encouraged to upload your finished results for each project. So for my class, you can upload your finished cyanotype prints so I and the rest of my students can see your work and comment, give feedback and answer any questions you have. I’m really looking forward to what you make!
And we’re back home! Another adventure is in the books and it is time to get back to our semi-normal lives. It has once again been an incredible experience of being able to slowly explore everything Catoctin Mountain Park has to offer. This time more that any other residency has literally been at a child’s pace the entire time, meaning we spent a lot of time contemplating the little wonders along each path. Hopefully my photos were imbued with some of that sense.
The last couple days of our stay were a little on the rainy side, so we had to pick and choose our outing around storms, but we still managed to get in a lot of fishing and photography. Below are some spots we encountered just a few hours before driving home. I was especially happy to find an unsuspecting fly fisherman trying his luck along the stream since that is what it has been especially reserved for.
And so now I enter editing mode, looking through all the shots I captured. Of course I’ll be looking for the stand out images I can turn into prints, but I’ll also be searching for a narrative thread around which I can begin to create a book about this park and my experience.
We have been keeping busy! Jed and I have been hiking and fishing every day, slowly but surely reaching all corners of the park. And now Melissa and Flint are here for a long weekend of even more hiking, camping, art and of course, s’mores. I’ll just share a few images I’ve been making because it’s time to fix dinner and the trails are calling my name!
I’m writing this on Wednesday evening, sitting in the library and soaking in the cool after a hot day (90!). Jed and I have managed to explore a lot of the park and despite some scrapes and bruises, he’s powered through and done an awesome job (next time you see him you should tell him so). Today we even did the Wolf Rock hike. It’s not too far in terms of mileage (3 miles round trip), but there is significant elevation gain and lots of rocky, uneven terrain. I didn’t get the chance to edit any of those photos yet, but I’m sure I’ll get to post them later.
Now I’m at the point where it would be helpful to decide what type of imagery I want to focus on for the park. That will help my decision making process for what I hike to much easier. So, I’ll share with you 1 style of editing I’ve been trying out. One feature of Catoctin that has jumped out is the vibrant green everywhere. I’m not sure if it is always like that or if it’s just the time of year, but the leaves, grass and every plant in between seems to be the same shade of bright yellow-green. So much so that it’s almost overwhelming in color photos. So I’ve been experimenting with a digital process that emulates black and white infrared photography. Now, to any purists out there, it’s probably not even close to the real thing, but if I view it not as emulation but rather just one more possibility for how I process a digital image, then I’m fine with the results. So, I’ll post some samples below. Let me know what you think.
We’re now full tilt exploring Catoctin. Yesterday we hiked to Cunningham Falls. Melissa carried Flint, I carried all the camera stuff and Jed blazed the trail. The falls were impressive, but since it was a weekend it was pretty crowded. I think Jed and I will take an alternate route there another day this week.
Melissa and Flint headed back home last night because she’s still working, but she’ll be back for a long weekend next week. This morning Jed and I went to Hunting Creek Lake and he fished for a little (but came up empty). Then we explored a little of the William Houck Campground and the surrounding area before heading home. In the afternoon we hiked the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still trail, which is where I’ll be leading my photography walk later next week. It’s just an easy trail meandering along a gentle stream, but I’m looking forward to the walking tour I’ll be delivering to hopefully inspire some budding photographers.
Last, I thought I should mention all the wildlife we’ve seen so far. Nothing huge, but lots of variety for only a couple days. In no particular order: Pileated Woodpecker, Baltimore Oriel, Eastern Milksnake, a giant millipede, and then of course frogs, trout and a salamander. Hopefully there is more yet to come!
The countdown is now officially less than 1 week and our excitement is about to pop. My 5 year old is most excited, just barely edging me out due to the fact that he does not still have to administer and grade final exams. Still, while these next few days will be especially hectic for me as I close out a semester and prepare for this residency, I feel as though I am preparing for 2 weeks of peace in the woods.
Most of my residencies thus far have felt very busy leading up to them, and even to a degree during them. I think it is such an honor to be selected for these opportunities that I feel a lot of responsibility to pack every moment full. Now, I’m not saying I don’t feel that responsibility now, but I think the smaller scale of Catoctin Mountain Park is going to allow for an easier pace. It is only about 8 square miles of land total, criss crossed with lots of short hiking trails. I think I’m also getting better at pacing myself during these residencies, realizing that it is not a race to see it all, but rather an opportunity for thoughtful work to be made through careful observation. And that is the situation that I make my best art in anyway.
In some other exciting news, I’ve recently published all my residency ebooks to the Amazon Kindle store. So if you’ve got a Fire tablet or the Kindle app on any of your devices, you can purchase a copy. And if you are a part of the Kindle unlimited plan, you can download these for FREE! And of course I plan to create a new book to coincide with this Catoctin residency, so I’m sure that will be added to this list sometime this summer.
Finally, I’ve also been making progress on my prints store through Crated.com. I’ve got about 3/4 of my Acadia images available for purchase and I’m hopeful that I can finish those images up before I leave for Catoctin. And my plan is to go back through all my old residency images and slowly begin making them available for sale as well. So, if you’re interested, check out my crated page and see what work I have available.
I’m not sure how often I will be posting during the residency, but I promise to do as much as possible (no wifi in the cabin). I also plan to be posting to Instagram regularly, so if you don’t already follow me @bpanter, there’s no time like the present.
Believe it or not, I am beginning to see the process of image editing as much more of a creation process than post-production one. I’m not sure if this is because I am growing into a more substantial vision for how I want my final images to look or because I am beginning to feel more comfort with significantly shaping my images after the shutter has been clicked. Either way, this perspective of editing as image-making has cause my editing process to be much more enjoyable. It is real “studio time” as opposed to a necessary evil of photography.
However, the one drawback of this is that my editing time has definitely increased. Instead of editing within the bounds of my original intent, now I find myself increasingly asking, “how far can this image be pushed”? Pushed to what end? I’m not always sure, but sometimes it is to be “much more muchier”.
This shift has also had me begin revisiting my artist statement. Exciting, right? Ok, all sarcastic remarks aside, it is something that I’ve been wrestling with internally over the last couple years. It seems as soon as I finally finish a good artist statement, it has taken just long enough to craft it that it no longer really applies or feels authentic. As a result, my statement has remained static (and pretty much not true) for the past few years.
But as I said, this shift in image editing philosophy feeds well into a revamped artist statement. Specifically, when I am making work (especially traditionally representational “landscape” type work) I want to push beyond perception. What does that mean? Eh…, I’m still working out the details and how that applies across all work I make, but certain parts of it I really like so far. Hopefully more on this to come.
So this all begs the questions, “Does everyone view image editing this way? Am I just behind the curve as a photography traditionalist?”
After about a week of meandering around the peninsula, I’m starting to get into the rhythm of this very special place. I’ve seen some spectacular sunrises and even more colorful sunsets, as well as walked silent under the stars.
I really can’t say enough good things about the lesser traveled, Schoodic Peninsula. I’m no expert on what Mt. Desert Island holds (though we did take a day trip to explore the main loop and we plan on heading back a couple times at least), but I am extremely content with everything I am discovering right here by our home. It’s got rocky shoreline, wave-smoothed granite rocks, dramatic cliffs and a variety of forest types. In fact, the only thing I’ve noticed it is lacking is all the people. For me, this seclusion and sense of remoteness is the perfect environment.
This morning I woke up an hour before dawn and headed over to one of the boulder beaches for sunrise photos. The sky was lit with dramatic pinks, peaches and oranges, all mixing with the early morning twilight blues. As the sun peaked over the horizon the orange glow lit the rounded stone beach and the nearby cliffs, bathing them in fiery light. It’s never fun to have my alarm go off that early, but the results are worth it.