Solar Cyanotypes – embracing unexpected outcomes

Sycamore, Fog, Spring copyright 2007/2023 Douglas Stockdale

One of the things I am adapting with my solar cyanotype printing, perhaps common to most alternative photographic processes, is to embrace unexpected outcomes. As a scientist, this aspect of alternative photography has been the most vexing. Way back when learning the Zone system, it was always about revisualization; certain amount of light for exposure and then a standardized processing technique for an expected result. For solar cyanotype printing, that is not always the case. Such as this print above when I was solar printing on a cloudy day that resulted in an unexpected outcome.

The photograph above was captured on a very foggy day down in the local arroyo many years ago and although I had planned for this to be printed a bit darker, in a round about way it resulted in a solar cyanotype print that’s actually not that far off the mark. The print is a lot lighter than I had pre-visualized, and it really appears that this very old California Sycamore is lost in the dense fog that rolled in from the coast. I enjoy the mystery of this ghostly landscape.

I am also not sure I can exactly duplicate this print again because of the varying conditions during the exposure. thus, I am going to call this a ‘unique’ print. An unexpected outcome that works for me.

Nevertheless, I am going to print this same cyanotype digital negative again to try to obtain what I had pre visualized for this image. So then what do I call these prints from the same digital negative that might appear so different; a Series, an Artist Edition or a Variable Edition? Would the above be called a Unique print in a Variable Edition? Maybe…

Above: ‘Sycamore, Fog, Spring‘ solar Cyanotype, image 8 x 12″ on a 11 x 14″ sheet of 100 lb Revere Platinum archival rag, Unique print in a Variable Edition of 5 + 1AP. If interest, please inquire about availability.

Cheers & make every day an Earth Day



 The Flow of Light Brushes the Shadow, an artist book from Singular Images Press, Fall 2022 release, $60.00 (CA sales tax for those residing in the USA) plus shipping expenses. Message me or singularimagespress@gmail for shipping details and PayPal invoice.

Note: The Artist Special Edition (book + extra print) is Sold Out.


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