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The Cyanotype Process: What is Cyanotype Photography?

Recently, New York Film Academy-Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Photography Co-Chair Kean O’Brien created a Cyanotype workshop for alumni at NYFA instructor Andrew Hall’s darkroom in downtown Los Angeles.

Cyanotype is one of the oldest photographic processes we know of, and has a distinctive blue color. Cyanotypes are made by treating a surface — paper, cloth or leather — with iron salts which then react to UV light. Originally used to document botanical specimens by placing them on treated papers and exposing them to the sun, it was also an early way to create copies of drawings, especially architectural drawings – thus the name “blueprints.”

Cyanotype

O’Brien worked with NYFA Instructor Andrew Hall before the workshop to pre-coat papers with the cyanotype chemistry so it would be dry and ready to go when participants arrived. But he also demonstrated the process on a large mural print he was making for one of his art projects that is up for an award.

First, he and Hall taped O’Brien’s paper to the table using Frogtape — a green tape with little tack so it wouldn’t damage the paper — and then measured out the chemicals. Cyanotype is equal parts ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide. Measuring each chemical separately so as not to add too much, he combined them in a glass bowl and began brushing on the mixture as evenly as possible onto the paper. Then he used a hair-dryer to dry the paper, and the rest of class went upstairs to begin laying out our cyanotypes.

Many students had followed O’Brien’s instructions from the previous week and printed black and white negatives to match the pre-coated paper size. Some used pieces of glass and cut out shapes instead, and some used a mixture of both. Once the negatives and ephemera were placed on the pre-treated sheets, they were put under glass and transferred to a large UV Light box that acted like an oven to bake our prints for 10 minutes each.

Everyone in the group were able to get several prints done each and experiment with various timings and placements. After exposing to UV light, the class went downstairs to Hall’s darkroom and washed the remaining chemistry off the prints until the water ran clear, then squeegeed the remaining water off and lay them in the drying racks to dry.

It was fun NYFA faculty to catch up with alumni and hear how everyone was doing and what they were up to. And it was great to see them interact in a mixed group of students from various cohorts.

NYFA MFA Alum Federico Imperiale stated, “It was great to see two professional photographers like Kean and Andrew working on a laboratory project. They were able to guide us through the understanding of the process, giving us a complete overview of the cyanotype technique and its expressive and aesthetic potential.”

The results of the cyanotype workshop were wonderful to behold and now students know how easy and fun it is and can do it from the comfort of their own home!

Interested in learning photography? Find out more information about the Photography programs at New York Film Academy today!

Written by Naomi White. Naomi is Co-Chair of Photography at NYFA Los Angeles.

How to Become a Travel Photographer on Instagram

Instagram isn’t just a place to show off your best selfies —  it’s also among the best social media platforms where you can enhance your photography skills. If you like to travel, Instagram is a great place to showcase your talent and maybe even make a living at the same time. However, if you are not sure on how to start, keep reading for some essential tips to help get you started:

Pick a niche style

For all the people on Instagram, a lot of the accounts really look the same. Having a particular niche style of your own helps to make your work stand out. It’s a huge advantage when people can tell the difference between your work and others’ at just a glance.

Your niche-style should reflect on the things you are interested in. Then, find ways to personalize the places you go to and make them as enjoyable as possible. This way, you will provide your audience with reasons to try and visit the same places. As a traveling photographer, you need to be persistent and exciting to ensure your niche has a professional appearance and contains your personality.

Set goals

Before you consider taking your camera and hitting the road, sit back and ask yourself a few questions. Find convincing reasons within yourself why you wish to become a travel photographer. Although this may seem like a simple step, it’s incredibly necessary. Once you are sure why you want to venture into the photography field, you can then divide your dreams into short-term and long-term goals. These goals will help to keep you focused, motivated and inspired, even when challenges are at their most extreme. If possible, write your goals in a journal and keep checking on them as often as possible.

Connect with others

In every business, having partners or people with the same goals as you helps you grow your business. From colleagues, you can learn new techniques and you can learn from their experience to understand the do’s and don’ts of the market. When you connect with other photographers, you are likely to learn trends or hashtags that will better expose your work. You can learn different techniques from others as well, and know what equipment you can upgrade to or what best suits your own style. Additionally, connecting with people from the places you travel to makes your trip much more insightful and worthwhile.

Build a portfolio

Photography is a craft as well as an artform, and it gets better with regular practice. Building a portfolio gives you the confidence of landing that big client or project. Pick your best shots and compile them together to sell your work.

While building your collection, you must also keep in mind it will represent you in the eyes of your clients as well as your followers. Therefore, you must ensure it contains your best shots, outlines your niche, and isn’t too much of the same of the look — show off your range!

Additionally, you can include services like professional essay writers from Australia to modify your portfolio. Writers will work on all your content needs to ensure you can share your skills with your audience authentically. While building your collection, you must also keep in mind it will represent you in the eyes of potential clients. Therefore, you must ensure it contains your best shots, outlines your niche, and has a balance in color.

 


Learn photography

Before you can become a travel photographer, you obviously have to learn at least the basics. Instagram will provide you with a platform with people of all generations. But the knowhow to get the right photos on that platform will take some learning.

As a travel photographer, you must know the right settings for your camera, have a mastery of basic composition and techniques, and learn a host of other skills, from basic to more advanced.

You must also have a passion for your work. You must be willing to learn various quality standards and have an eye that can capture and see the world creatively. Also, be open to learning something new and expanding both your eyes and your viewpoints.

Attending workshops or photography schools such as the programs offered at New York Film Academy is a great first step. Travel is a wide field and although it will take time before you land your biggest gig, it can be a very rewarding job or hobby. Getting followers is one thing; giving them a good reason to follow you is another!

NYFA Photography School Dishes on Favorite Vintage Photography

Most of us who fall in love with photography remember the moment we saw a specific image that changed the way we see the world. Whether the “Afghan girl” on the cover of National Geographic or the WWII sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square, many images have stamped their mark not only on our hearts, but on history.

In photography, the industry moves fast — but that doesn’t mean that powerful images can’t stand the test of time. In fact, vintage photographs (images more than 20 years old) are a vital part of shaping our understanding of photography as an artform, and learning to see the world a bit differently.

This week, we asked our NYFA Photography School to weigh in on their favorite classic photographers and their favorite vintage photographs. Check out what they had to say!

NYFA Photography Senior Program Coordinator John Tona:

Armed with nothing more than his 35mm camera, LIFE’s Robert Capa joined the 34,250 troops who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day.

Although only a few images survived that day, his most iconic image of Private First Class Huston Riley gave the world a view of the dangers faced by soldiers during war:

BOB194404CW000X1/ICP585

Image © Robert Capa Normandy France June 6th, 1944

What makes this image even more impactful for me is the perspective in which Capa made this photograph, turning his back to the Nazis to capture Riley making his way through the surf toward the enemy.

NYFA Instructor Jackie Neale:

Robert Frank would be my favorite photographer of yore.

Robert Frank’s photographs from his book, “The Americans” (1958), display 35mm vernacular photography at its best. Frank framed and captured time as if we, the viewer, happened into the remarkable split second just as the persons, the wall, the ceiling, the car, the baby, the cowboy, the bus all orchestrate themselves into lyrical narratives of space, geometry, timing, contrast, gestures, and humanly beauty.

Frank mastered timing and the abstraction of time all at once. Robert Frank is my favorite photographer and his work from over a half century is a glowing example of making the photograph into a relic and revealed object of art.

NYFA Instructor Paul Sunday:

My favorite “vintage” photography is that of Man Ray:

Copyright: © Man Ray Trust ARS-ADAGP

Copyright: © Man Ray Trust ARS-ADAGP

His enthusiastic experimentation early in the last century set the stage for the future of photography’s infinite possibilities. He was an interdisciplinary artist and, in his photography, a great adventurer — exploring every aspect of the form, from portraiture to abstraction.

NYFA Instructor Jaime Permute:

Growing up in Guatemala, we did not have access to photographic schools such as the New York Film Academy. We were all essentially self-taught. We pored over photographic books and magazines and tried to befriend more established photographers in our efforts to learn the tools of the trade. I was lucky that my father was an avid photographer himself and had a substantial library at home. This is how, even without ever meeting him personally, Manuel Alvarez Bravo became one of my great teachers. During my teenage years, his monograph “Instante y Revelación” was my constant companion.

Alvarez Bravo is Mexico’s most famous photographer. His life spans exactly 100 years and it begins and ends with the 20th century. Alvarez Bravo had a prolific and distinguished career. His circle of intimate friends include some of the most notable writers and artists of his times: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Octavio Paz, Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Andre Breton, Sergei Eisenstein and many others.

Alvarez Bravo is most commonly understood in the context of surrealism. However, one might also argue that his work is essentially documentary in nature and that the reality of Mexico itself lends his photographs their mysterious and dreamlike quality. My greatest debt to Alvarez Bravo is his understanding of the poetics of image-making and how artistic intention reveals the other side of reality, the one that lies hidden and out of sight, beyond the mere surface of things.

NYFA Instructor Joan Pamboukes:

One of my favorite artists and major influences is László Moholy-Nagy.

I’ve always loved to read and learn about Moholy-Nagy’s experimentations not only in the darkroom but also with other types of media (especially his Light Space Modulators, these kooky sculptures that made colorful light patterns).

He was something of a mad scientist, an innovative thinker, and an educator at the Bauhaus. He encouraged photographers and his students, as part of the New Vision, to witness and document the world in unexpected ways, utilizing strange vantage points and abstracting reality. He also embraced technology and sought to incorporate that into his artwork.

You can find more information about his life and work from the Moholy-Nagy Foundation.

NYFA Instructor Kristina S. Varaksina:

Photography by Lewis Carroll

Photograph by Lewis Carroll


Lewis Carroll
, the famous writer, was also an incredibly talented photographer. He made a big contribution to the development of children’s portrait and fashion photography. He often worked with sets, props, and wardrobes. To this day, similar ideas can be found in many photographers’ work. His ability to capture natural emotions and the mature side of children is fascinating.

His long career as a photographer (1856-1880) coincides with the “Golden Era” of 19th century photography, which centered on the wet collodion “wet plate” negative process and the corresponding positive albumen print process.

What are your favorite vintage photos? Who are your favorite master photographers from the past? Why? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about photography at the New York Film Academy.