Blueprint Paper Photography

     One afternoon, while reminiscing about how I learned in grade school to make sun prints on construction paper.  I wondered how well construction paper would take an image when exposed to sun trhough a lens.  I figured it would take several hours, if not days, to form such an image. Nevertheless, I set out to make a camera that would do the job.  Such a camera would be simple, not even needing a shutter, only a lens cover.

     Try as I did, I couldn't find any construction paper that would fade in the sunlight.  I guess the new and improved construction paper is all now fadeproof.  But I did happen upon "sunprint paper," used for the same educational purposes I experienced years ago.  Sunprint paper is a form of blueprint paper that can be completely exposed in just a few minutes of bright sunlight.  It's developed in plain water and drugstore hydrogen peroxide instead of the messy and smelly ammonia that professional blueprinters use.  It's available cheap at our local blueprint supply.

     So I put an old copier lens in one end of a cardboard box, then I taped sunprint paper in the other.  I closed up the box, aimed it at my children's playhouse, and let it sit.  After a few hours it produced the first image below.

     Now the images produced are actually blue and white negatives (not shown).   They also come out flipped and rotated from reality due to the way they are exposed in the camera.  To correct this, I scanned the negatives and used the "negative" command of some photo software.   To my surprise, the color change resulted in some very pleasing tones.   Enjoy the images.
 
 

Playhouse
Three hour Exposure
Playhouse
All day exposure
Neighbor's shed, two hour exposure
(with very fast, distorting lens)

 Back yard and playhouse
All day exposure
Note how trees are evenly lit horizontally
Still days are best for long exposures

Front yard and neighbor's driveway
All day exposure
Bright streak is setting sun
At the top you can see where the exposure was so intense it burned a hole in the paper

Construction Site
All day exposure, done on weekend so cranes would say put
I had a bit of fun with the color rendering

Contact Prints Using Oiled Inkjet Print as Negative

The images below did not use direct exposure.  Instead, I took a regular digital photo and used software to make a negative to use for contact printing directly onto blueprint paper.

Here are the steps:

1.  Size the image to where it just fit within 8 1/2 x 11 inches.
2.  Use the color menu to render it in gray scale.
3.  Click on the "negative" button to reverse the shades.
4.  Flip the image left to right.
5.  Print it on normal copy paper
6.  Lay the print on a sheet of newspaper.
7.  Pour mineral oil all over it to where it is fully soaked.  (This makes the paper translucent, where it looks like a real black and white negative.)
8.  Remove excess mineral oil with paper towel.
9.  Let the negative dry on clean paper for 24 hours.  This is not necessary, it just helps keep oil off the blueprint paper.
10. Sandwich the negative against the blueprint paper between two sheets of glass,  expose in direct sunlight for 5-10 minutes.
11. Inside, separate the negative and blueprint paper.
12. Handling only by edges, gently insert the blueprint paper in a tray of warm water and swish it around for about a minute to remove the chemical.  It will fade.
13. Place the blueprint paper in another tray of water that contains a couple of tablespoons of household hydrogen peroxide. This will increase the contrast tremendously.

Examples are below. Note that the pictures are true blue, as the blueprint paper itself is the final medium, rather than being used as a negative as in the previous pictures.
 





 
 

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