Tag Archives: cyanotype

Exercise 5.1

Exercise 5.1

Create a set of still-life pictures showing traces of life without using people.

You could do this with your camera phone to reflect the vernacular and transient nature of these moments or you could choose to use high-quality imagery to give these moments gravitas, like Nigel Shafran. Your technical decisions should back up your ideas, so write a short reflective commentary detailing these decisions and the reasons for them.


My partner recently went away for a weekend course.  For this exercise I wanted to reflect the little traces of life that she leaves around the house even when shes not actually there.

My initial approach was to take images of discarded items found in our home such as these hair clips.  I liked the incongruity of them being discarded on a chopping board, the contrasting tones and textures.

Although I find these images to be aesthetically quite pleasing, there is no clear rationale for the images to be in monochrome. So I needed another method.

Cyanotype is an old photographic method invented by Herschel and most frequently used to take copies of drawings and diagrams.  It has a characteristic cyan blue colour.  From this comes the term ‘blueprint’.

Prints are made by placing items directly onto the light sensitive paper on a sunny day for several minutes.  Blue areas mark where the paper has been exposed to unobstructed light while the shadow areas come out as white, revealing a ‘trace’ of what was previously left on the paper, like footsteps on the beach.  This trace left was a perfect metaphor for what I was seeking to achieve.

Items with a clearly identifiable or interesting silhouette are most successful.  The hair clips did not work well due to their curved nature, resulting in most of it being lost and not distinguishable.  The following images are cyanotypes of some of the more curious ritual items, masks and pendants left around the house by my partner following her work as a ‘Glastonbury Priestess of Avalon’: