Cyanotype toning: Wine Tannin

MP Photography

It probably looks like I have an obsession with toning – I don’t.  Not really.  Among all the reasons that I love working with cyanotype, the bright blue color isn’t one of them.  So, I have to tone my images.  Though I like the shades of black/brown/purple that I get from toning, I’m always looking for a toner that won’t stain the paper and ruin my highlights.   

So far, I’ve been pleased with basic toners like green tea, coffee, and black tea.  Tannic acid works well – when I can get it to work.  It’s also expensive.  I don’t use tannic acid much these days.  The biggest problem with all of these toners is they all stain the paper really badly, tannic acid a little less. 

I’m happy to say that my recent test of Wine Tannin looks good.  I won’t say it’s the holy grail of cyanotype toning, but it barely stained…

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INTERNATIONAL BLUES MUSIC DAY 2015

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Now in its third year INTERNATIONAL BLUES MUSIC DAY  will be celebrated across the globe on August 1st 2015.

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A day for the international community to unite in celebration of the blues, including it’s many icons, legends & pioneers & to help elevate & support the vast pool of modern day blues artists & practitioners around the world”     
Johnny Childs – Director IBMD

IBMD

 

Celebrate and Educate – everyday!

Ornette Coleman and the art of improvisation

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Last week blues guitarist BB King passed away , this week, it is another great –Ornette Coleman, jazz saxophonist.

 

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Having bought his first saxophone with money he had earned from shining shoes, Coleman learned to play it as if it were a toy.

“I didn’t know you had to learn to play,” he told the Guardian.

“I didn’t know music was a style and that it had rules and stuff, I thought it was just sound. I thought you had to play to play, and I still think that.”

This is the approach Coleman had and was a fundamental attitude that led him to be such a great innovator and improvisor.

If there is one joy when you hear jazz,it is through the power of  improvisation.

 

Ornette Coleman Trio 1966

 

The free flow of connected and sometimes even unconnected sounds, in response  to one of your fellow musicians.

It is the wonder of creativity that if you are watching live,means that you are witnessing something that has never been heard before, and if not recorded at the time, may never be heard in thesame way again.

Such is the power of improvisation.

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one quote tells it all:

In 1986, the guitarist Pat Metheny recounted the experience of playing alongside Coleman in full improvisatory flow:

““The challenge in this situation is that sometimes Ornette plays and stops, then I have to play.

The other night in Washington, we did this tune called Broadway Blues, and he played the most perfect musical statement I’ve ever heard.

I gave it my best, but I have no pretenses of improvising at that level.

 

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……and what influenced him?

“Actually, when I was in elementary school, I saw a saxophone.

A band came to my school, and I saw this guy get up and play this solo.

And I said, ‘Oh man, what is that! That must be fantastic!’

 

 

 

In some ways, as educators, or parents, or friends, we must give as many opportunities to children to listen, to watch musicians and to experience playing an instrument to have the opportunity to be inspired.

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A quote from Robert Wyatt:

 “What has always warmed my heart,” he writes, “has little to do with his influence on younger improvisors.

It is the timeless vocal beauty of the actual sequences of notes and phrases he could come up with, and the feeling of pure living joy of playing they can communicate.”

 

Cyanotypes – how blue can you get?

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Looking at other posts on my blog you can see I like the Blues! So working on cyanotypes allows me to extend my interpretation of blues 🙂 As it is her birthday this week, let’s remember Anna Atkins, who was born 216 years ago and produced the first book to include ‘photographs’ which were in fact,cyanotypes. annaatkins algae2

Anna Atkins from her book  Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions ( October 1843) 

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My first post on cyanotypes explored the range of possibilities for making and using cyanotypes; this post goes into more detail on making cyanotypes at home. fernblue1   The process, in its simplest form, is to mix two chemicals to produce a ‘sensitizer’ solution which is then coated on to paper -such as watercolour or cartridge paper. The image can be produced as a photogram -by putting objects onto the paper which will then mask parts of the paper and remain white while exposed areas will turn blue. The alternative is to make a digital negative (same size as the image that you want e.g. A4. What you need: A ‘sensitiser’ – for cyanotypes this is composed of two chemicals which can easily be bought online  and can be mixed at home. The two chemicals are Ammonium ferric citrate and Potassium ferricyanide ( also called  Potassium hexacyanidoferrate(II) ). Each chemical is mixed in water (ideally filtered ). mixing chemicals

Using a plastic pipette to mix small quantities of ‘sensitizer’. 

Once the sensitizer has been made (see below) paper, cloth and even wood can be coated to make it sensitive to UV light (the sun or other UV source such as UV tubes). What is helpful is that coating materials can be done under a household bulb (not a fluorescent tube) rather than a safe light. Dissolve the chemicals in water to make two separate solutions. Add Ammonium ferric citrate (25 grms) to 100 mls of  water into one container and Potassium ferricyanide (10 grms)  to 100 mls of  water in another. Stir with a plastic spoon until the chemicals dissolve. These two solutions when kept in brown bottles can last a few months. Of course , if you are unlikely to coat many sheets,then just halve the amounts noted above (which I normally do to keep the finished solution, i.e. the sensitiser, fresh.) Mix equal quantities of each solution together in a third container. Unused solutions can be stored separately in brown bottles away from light, but will not last very long once they have been mixed. Dispose of any unused chemicals in an  environmentally friendly way. Once you have coated the paper or other material ,  let it dry for  a few hours (although it is possible to use it straight away). To gain an image, the senistised material is left in the sun (or other UV source) for anything from a few minutes to half an hour depending on your position on the globe, the time of the year and the time of day. For example, in March at around 11.00 am at a latitude of 51 degrees N and 2 degrees W , exposure was between 8 and 12 minutes (see below). leafphotogram1

Photogram with leaves being exposed  in Spring sunshine for 10 minutes

    An image can also be  formed using a digital negative. eleneg1 An image was found,  adjusted in photoshop (can also use another program such as  GIMP  – www.gimp.org0.) ; and then inverted to produce a negative ( invert once you have adjusted contrast etc)  re-sized to fit an A4 sheet and printed on an acetate sheet ( overhead transparency sheet – £10 for 100 sheets approx.). If a digital negative is not used then objects, such as leaves or shells, can be used to  produce a photogram (as above with leaves). test strip ele It is a good idea to make a ‘test strip’ to understand the levels of UV at that particular time. Cover 3/4 of the image on first exposure , then uncover 1/4 every 3 minutes or so. Then you can calculate the best exposure time (12 mins was too much so 9 mins was chosen). ele exposed

Exposed image with digital negative (A4) at top left.

When the print has been exposed, process your print by rinsing it in cold water. The wash  removes any unexposed chemicals. The water will run yellow at first. washing cyan ele still   changeofcolour wash

Washing prints – water runs yellow at first.

Wash for at least 5 minutes, until all chemicals are removed and the water runs clear.   * Cotton cloth can be sensitised and processed in the same way as paper and is very effective.   cloth negexposed

Two negatives are placed on a piece of cotton cloth (A2 size approx.)

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After about 10 minutes exposure to Spring sunshine, the cloth is washed. Notice the yellow colour washing out.

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    * cloth washing clear

The water is becoming clear after 5 minutes of washing.

The blue colour is accentuated as it is oxidised. The final print/cloth can now be left somewhere to dry (lie flat or hung using pegs). Frame the result or make a cushion cover!

Toning cyanotypes.

When you have explored the miriad of cyanotypes in all their subtle shades of blue, why not tone them brown? The process is another adventure in exploration. Some will say bleach first then tone, others say tone then bleach, others may say bleach, tone and then bleach again. Plenty to experiment with! The easiest and cheapest bleach is sodium carbonate (washing soda -not caustic soda!) – 1 teaspoon in a litre of water will do it. The cheapest toner is tea (black tea ,but can use green -just experiement) – put 5 or 6 teabags in warm water (if you are a tea lover -make your cups of tea and leave the part used bags in a jar for a day).

So, one method -bleach your cyanotype for 15-30 seconds. Now soak your print in the tea (should be dark brown) for about 15 minutes – can be more or less depending on the strength of your toner and the range of shades you want in your finished print. Dry and enjoy the toned print. toning 1 bl and br

The tea toned example (on right) with its blue ‘original’ (on left) before bleaching and toning.

Subtler shades of brown can be achieved with less toning and weaker solutions.

  Keep a notebook handy so that while experimenting you can decide on the optimal conditions for the tones that you desire. More to come on this one. Any questions?

Hubble – the last 25 years

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Forget men walking on the moon, the real news has come from Hubble.

If we did not have the cold war ,provoking US man agains Soviet man, we may have been able to focus on unmanned space exploration and spent the funds more effectively, in terms of  creating real and new knowledge.

Anyway lets celebrate 25 years of Hubble and marvel at the images that have taken us to the edge of the universe(s).

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images of the first stars and galaxies

 

and if you want to understand how they are discovering distant galaxies -watch this:

 

 

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pillars of creation

Hubble launches its 25th anniversary celebration with new look at iconic “Pillars of Creation” image of the Eagle Nebula. The famous image was first released in 1995. This more-detailed depiction, captured by an instrument installed on the telescope in 2009, includes streamers of gas floating away from the columns and a jet-like feature that may have been ejected from a newborn star.

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Dust disk around a star.

 

 

Jupiter is in the news at present

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Jupiter’s moons in full view

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spiral galaxy

 

At first glance, galaxy NGC 7714 resembles a partial golden ring. This unusual structure is a river of Sun-like stars that has been pulled deep into space by the gravitational tug of a bypassing galaxy (not visible in this Hubble Space Telescope photo). Though the universe is full of such colliding galaxies that are distorted in a gravitational taffy-pull, NGC 7714 is particularly striking for the seeming fluidity of the stars along a vast arc. The near-collision between the galaxies happened at least 100 million years ago.

http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2015/04

 

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A stunning image of the Orion Nebula

 

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And what about this breath taking composite image of the Andromeda Galaxy

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The largest #Hubble image ever assembled, this sweeping view of a portion of the Andromeda galaxy is the sharpest large composite image ever taken of our galactic next-door neighbor. Though the galaxy is over 2 million light-years away, the Hubble telescope is powerful enough to resolve individual stars. And, there are lots of stars in this image — over 100 million, with some of them in thousands of star clusters seen embedded in the disk.

http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2015/02/

 

hubblemania

Hubble Mania -a new competition from the Hubble site:

Thirty-two Hubble images. One champion. Who will win it all? Your votes will decide. In celebration of Hubble’s 25th anniversary, we’re pitting some of Hubble’s best images against each other in a single-elimination bracket. Your votes will determine the victors for each round. Download and fill out the bracket to predict which image you think will win each head-to-head matchup, and which will make it all the way through to the championship. Then come back and vote each week, starting on March 4 at 9 a.m. EST.

Some of the ‘competitors’

hubble saturn hubblenebula hubble mars hubble jupiter

 

 

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1fc0e719986c2b1d237931224e7db7ba 3c4089b5151b273ee80a9937ea752110 04a883771af3e473c097b077bc7987f6 5bf311201f34e43a84a9ba84352693e5

 

 

Access the Hubble site and drift into space – it will make you feel humble!

The Blues in Britain – the 60’s ‘invasion’

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The Blues in Britain – the 60’s ‘invasion’

 

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Yes we had blues players move across to the U.S. but the greatest influence on our budding blues artists was from the stars of the  60’s American Blues Festivals (1962-1969).

Just look at the start of this clip with the dramatic entrance from Sonny Boy Williamson – then followed by the great Muddy Waters.

 

 

Great photography too!

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Lets see some other artists on tours between 1962-1966

Enjoy Sonny Terry ‘hootin’ in this clip

 

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But there are so many gems here:

 

 

(note Sony Boy Williamson at around 20 minutes -check the two colour suit and the great improvisation)

Rev.Gary Davis – Harlem Street Singer

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I have just been listening to Paul Jones interviewing Woody Mann about his documentary film project on Blues guitarist Reverend Gary Davis.

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An often copied song – Samson and Delilah

As stated in the film he was a great influence on a number of musicians such as Pete Seeger, Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia, Jorma Kaukonen, David Bromberg, Bob Dylan and countless others.

This is a take from the Dead:

Others were influenced –  such as Eric Bibb and Ralph McTell

Here’s Gary on I heard the Angels singing:

and Eric Bibb’s version:

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Hesitation Blues from The Rev Gary Davis

and a  good rag time version of Hesitation Blues from Ralph McTell

and a version by Janis Joplin –

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In another blog I looked at the versions of Candyman

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Here is a reminder of Rev Gary’s version…

and if you want to know how to play it -just listen to Stefan Grossman who is a great fan of Gary Davis:

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and a rare piece of video footage of The Rev Gary playing the famous “Death have no mercy’

and a less rare clip but soulful acoustic version by  Hot Tuna:

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Memories of Rev Gary Davis by Stefan Grossman

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Some nice ragtime on this one:

 

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and finally The Rev Gary Davis performance – June 1967.

St.James Infirmary …. another history of the blues

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St.James Infirmary   …. another history of the blues

Listen  to this first ….. from Louis Armstrong

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St.James Infirmary

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and now from Blind Willie McTell

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Dying crapshooters’ blues

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As a quiz question…..could there be any connection with Henry VIII?

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Well yes and no….

The links are described in Wikipedia:

“St. James Infirmary Blues” is based on an 18th-century traditional English folk song called “The Unfortunate Rake” (also known as “The Unfortunate Lad” or “The Young Man Cut Down in His Prime”), about a soldier who uses his money on prostitutes, and then dies of a venereal disease.

The title is said to derive from St. James Hospital in London, a religious foundation for treatment of leprosy. There is some difficulty in this, since it closed in 1532 when Henry VIII acquired the land to build St. James Palace.Another possibility is the Infirmary section of the St James Workhouse, which the St James Parish opened in 1725 on Poland Street, Piccadilly, and which continued well into the nineteenth century. This St James Infirmary was contemporaneous with the advent of the song.

As I was a-walking down by St. James Hospital,

I was a-walking down by there one day.

What should I spy but one of my comrades

All wrapped up in a flannel though warm was the day.

—”The Unfortunate Rake” (trad.)

The St James workhouse..

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Variations typically feature a narrator telling the story of a young man “cut down in his prime” (occasionally, a young woman “cut down in her prime”) as a result of morally questionable behavior. For example, when the song moved to America, gambling and alcohol became common causes of the youth’s death. There are numerous versions of the song throughout the English-speaking world. It evolved into other American standards such as “The Streets of Laredo”.

The song “Dyin’ Crapshooter’s Blues” has been described as a descendant of “The Unfortunate Rake”, and thus a ‘direct relative’ of “St James Infirmary Blues”. Blind Willie McTell recorded a version for Alan Lomax in 1940, and claimed to have begun writing the song around 1929. However, the song was first recorded as “Gambler’s Blues” in 1927 by Fess Williams and his Royal Flush Orchestra.

The tune of the earlier versions of the song, including the “Bard of Armagh” and the “Unfortunate Rake”, is in a major key and is similar to that of the “Streets of Laredo”. The jazz version, as played by Louis Armstrong, is in a minor key and appears to have been influenced by the chord structures prevalent in Latin American music, particularly the Tango.

Like most such folksongs, there is much variation in the lyrics from one version to another. This is the first stanza as sung by Louis Armstrong:

I went down to St. James Infirmary,

Saw my baby there,

Stretched out on a long white table,

So cold, so sweet, so fair.

Let her go, let her go, God bless her,

Wherever she may be,

She can look this wide world over,

But she’ll never find a sweet man like me.

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Lets listen to another jazz version by Cab Calloway (with a bit of cartoon humour) :

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Compare with trombonist Jack Teagarden’s soulful version:

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A great ‘traditional’ version from Snooks Eaglin from Folkways records 1959:

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Lets listen to a few more versions and see how the song has evolved:

First Bobby Bland:

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one of my favourites – from Van the Man -really brings the sense of drama and mix of jazz and blues versions -Live in Montreaux 2003

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And getting back to the roots -an acoustic version from  Arlo Guthrie:

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A good version from guitar maestro Eric Clapton along with band leader Doctor John

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and a gritty version from Joe Cocker and Leon Russell:

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and back to the roots with an acoustic version from Dave Van Ronk – remember the other title – ” Gambler’s blues”

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a soulful/psychedelic rendition form Eric Burden and the Animals:

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I think you realise now how a ‘traditional ‘ song can inspire so many musicians -over centuries!

Some more recent adaptations:

And a great live jazz version from Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue

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Vive la France-  Camélia Jordana in 2011

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and what about Jools Holland -and guess who ….  Tom Jones!

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and the White stripes

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2013 – from the Hot Sardines….a very jazzy touch again

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and a more traditional piano version from Hugh Laurie:

In Paris? Pres de Centre Pompidou? Try Henri Cartier – Bresson!

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In Paris? Pres de Centre Pompidou? Try Henri Cartier – Bresson!

bresson

 

EXHIBITION HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON
CENTRE POMPIDOU / FEBRUARY 12th – JUNE 9th 2014
GALLERY 2, LEVEL 6

Exhibition

For the first time in Europe, the Centre Pompidou is devoting a completely new retrospective to the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, through more than five hundred photographs, drawings, paintings, films and documents.

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This exhibition, both chronological and thematic, proposes a genuine reinterpretation of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work, by Clément Chéroux, curator at the photography department of the Centre Pompidou. The public are invited to journey through over seventy years of work of the man known as “the eye of the century”.

 

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Publication

To complete this retrospective on one of the key figure in modernity, a major book showing the totality of the exhibition, has been published by the Centre Pompidou (€49,90).

 

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Application

From February 9th 2014, the Centre Pompidou proposes a rich artistic and documentary application for tablets, produced in partnership with the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Magnum Photos and Le Monde.fr.

An application for tablet, available under iOS and Android
French and English
Price: €4,49

 

 A video =the decisive moment