Alternative Processes In Photography Connect Past To Present

Student photographers in the Alternative Processes course, led by Arts Department Chair Sarah MacWright, are skilled behind the camera and also know their way around both wet and digital darkrooms. Alternative Processes describe a variety of photographic techniques that may have once been state-of-the-art but have become obsolete for reasons of safety, economy, or general impracticality. Cyanotype is a 19th-century process advanced by Anna Atkins, thought by many to be the first female photographer.
Many steps are required to produce a cyanotype, which employs chemistry, water, and ultraviolet light in the alchemical rendering of image to paper. For this cyanotype assignment, students composed images that employed the technique of a “frame within a frame.” Within the physical confines of a piece of photo paper, photographers use light, shadow, focus, and framing to create compelling images.
Evelynn Najork, a Vth former who is now in her third year of photography courses at Millbrook, used a broken mirror in a self-portrait for her FWAF cyanotype.  After composing and capturing an image with a digital camera, Evelynn prints a negative in the lab. She then paints a piece of paper with cyanotype chemicals to create an area sensitive to UV light. After pressing her negative tightly against the prepared paper, she exposes the paper in a box filled with blacklight bulbs. Following the six-minute exposure, she washes the unexposed chemicals, those shadowed by the negative, from her paper and the image is brought to life.
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