First let's talk about Anna Atkins and learn about this Botanist/Photographer.
John George Children and John Pelly Atkins were friends of William Henry Fox Talbot. Anna Atkins learned directly from Talbot about two of his inventions related to photography: the "photogenic drawing" technique (in which an object is placed on light-sensitized paper which is exposed to the sun to produce an image) and calotypes.
Atkins was known to have had access to a camera by 1841. Some sources claim that Atkins was the first female photographer. Other sources name Constance Talbot, the wife of William Fox Talbot, as the first female photographer. As no camera-based photographs by Anna Atkins nor any photographs by Constance Talbot survive, the issue may never be resolved.
Sir John Herschel, a friend of Atkins and Children, invented the cyanotype photographic process in 1842. Within a year, Atkins applied the process to algae (specifically, seaweed) by making cyanotype photograms that were contact printed "by placing the unmounted dried-algae original directly on the cyanotype paper."
Atkins self-published her photograms in the first installment of Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions in October 1843. Although privately published, with a limited number of copies, and with handwritten text, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions is considered the first book illustrated with photographic images. Eight months later, in June 1844, the first fascicle of William Henry Fox Talbot's The Pencil of Nature was released; that book was the "first photographically illustrated book to be commercially published" or "the first commercially published book illustrated with photographs."
If you can budget for Sun Paper from various sites and Amazon, you can do this. The blue molecules embedded in the paper are sensitive to ultra-violet light. For best results, prepare your print in a place where the sun’s light cannot reach the paper as you arrange objects on top of it. Direct sunlight will expose the paper quickly, but even ambient light in the shade, or in a room with a big window will cause slow exposure of the paper.
- Sun Art paper kit (available on Amazon)
- outdoor objects, i.e., sticks, flowers, etc.
- tub of water
- lemon juice (optional)
- book for pressing (optional)
This is a wonderful opportunity to talk about blueprints and how they are used in architectural design. A lot is now done through CADCAM systems, but the blueprints will always be associated with the plans for wonderful inventions and structures.
You can also tie this into biology, history, art and many other subjects depending on the theme of the lesson.
There are three types of SunPrints:
Cyanotype - AKA the BLUEPRINT
Cyanotype, also referred to as "blueprinting", is the oldest non-silver photographic printing process. It involves exposing materials which have been treated with a solution of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate to a UV light source such as the sun. Negative or positive images can be obtained by blocking UV light from reaching the sensitized material. For example, a negative image can be produced by placing a leaf upon paper treated with this solution and exposing to sunlight for 10 to 20 minutes. The paper will retain the image of the leaf after it has been rinsed with water. Once the paper dries, parts that were exposed to the sun will turn a shade of Prussian blue (ferric ferrocyanide), while parts that were covered by the leaf will remain white.
Light-sensitive vat dyes
A specialized type of vat dye called Inkodye is also used for sun-printing due to its light-sensitive quality. Unlike other vat dyes which use oxygen to develop their color, Inkodyes are developed by light. These dyes are suspended in leuco form appearing colorless until they are exposed to UV. Their usage resembles that of cyanotype, but unlike cyanotype Inkodyes are primarily used on textiles and exist in a full range of colors. Exposure times vary from 3 to 15 minutes depending on the desired color and intensity of light. Once exposed, the sensitized material is washed in soapy water to remove dye from unexposed areas. Such dyes are typically used by craftspeople, fabric printers and artists and can be printed with photographic negatives, resist paste or through a silk screen.
Sun printing may also refer to a photographic process using potassium dichromate which produces a negative plate for conventional lithographic printing. The process uses a film of gelatine spread on a flat and rigid surface. This is coated with a dilute solution of potassium dichromate and dried in low light conditions. A translucent positive is secured in tight contact with the treated gelatine layer and exposed to bright sunlight for a period of up to 30 minutes. During this time the sunlight and potassium dichromate tan the gelatine exposed to light. The plate is developed by washing in warm water and removing the untanned gelatine. Once dry, a relief print is revealed on the plate. The surface can be inked and printed in a hand press to produce any number of identical prints of the original subject.