They may not rank as my favorite alternative method, but there’s something to be said for a good old fashioned cyanotype. Sometimes it’s nice to play around with a quick and easy process, just to see what you can do with a small chunk of time and some sunshine on your hands.
Someday, I’ll have millions of dollars and a beautiful custom darkroom all to myself. Until then, here are a couple of my favorite, cheaper alternatives I’ve discovered.
Dark cloth: Yeah, you could spend a chunk of money on a ~professional~ dark cloth, or you could buy a couple yards of cosplay fabric from a local fabric store and save a whole lot of money (plus feel 10000 times more magical). I snagged two yards of this amazing fabric for use with my 4x5 camera, and another 3 that I use with my darkbox. Other than being very stylish, the material is meant for making costumes so it stays fairly cool underneath and is sufficiently opaque.
Stained glass panels: Quickly after starting to build my portable darkbox, I found out how expensive safelights and/or filters can be. Since I’m currently only using the box for tintypes, I knew I could get a little more creative with my light situation. A 12” x 12” amber glass panel for $8 does the job perfectly at a fraction of the cost.
Creamer bottles: This one didn’t occur to me until recently, but I’m sold on it. We’ve suddenly become creamer users, and I can’t bear to get rid of things that may prove to be useful/reusable later, so that’s how I ended up with a middle of the night idea, and a brand new fix bottle. I don’t know how well these guys would hold up to long term storage, but they’ve been awesome for small batch sessions. The pour spout is top notch, plus the lid snaps open and closed with one hand. Cut to me at the grocery store, spending way too long analyzing the size, ergonomics, cap color and (less importantly) flavor of each creamer bottle. shrug
I’m sure that this post will only continue to get longer as I look around and realize more odd things I’ve adapted. After all, necessity is the mother of invention, right?
I didn’t do much for my birthday this year, but I did learn that the laundry room I initially thought was kind of odd makes for an excellent dark room set up. After a lengthy battle with my new scanner, I’m excited to share my spooky first plate as a 27 year old!
Kinzi was sweet (crazy?) enough to spend some time assisting me with portraits a few weeks ago before she ran off to college. She got paid in plates, and I got to test out some of the different colors, so I like to think it was a win-win.
For the first time in AmaCon history, I didn't spend the day running around and doing 100 things. Even though being in one place the whole time was very weird, I got to talk to a ton of neat people, and had a good time field testing my portable darkroom set up.
Not to mention my adorable assistants, and a tiny bit of stalking to make sure I had a chance to photograph Pennywise.
The red plate was insane to try and scan, but it looks phenomenal in person. Just as creepy as I had envisioned.
After adopting this cutie in Portland, I got the nudge I needed to throw myself back into alternative processes in a big way. I wanted to quickly gauge just how rusty my skills were, so I picked up a ferrotype kit and went to town.
They didn't turn out the best, but I was expecting them to be pretty rough after my hiatus. The good news is the camera works perfectly, and I still mostly know what I'm doing!