Media: Toned Cyanotype
Size: 13 ½" x 9 ¾"
Debbie Danna discovered photography in high school with her father’s old Kodak range finder and a tiny darkroom at school. She continued to dabble in it for close to 50 years, incorporating her background in intercultural communication and interest in other cultures as well as her love of nature. Debbie photographed the people and places where she traveled, primarily Latin America, and in and around her home in New Orleans.
Debbie retired in the middle of the pandemic and was finally able to focus on photography during the long lockdowns. She explored different aspects of photography through online courses on bird photography, macro and telephoto. Since she couldn’t travel, she focused on what was around her and discovered spring bird migration. Debbie began watching the wide variety of birds passing through her backyard and then photographed them. She expanded to local parks, sitting for hours watching and learning more about the bird’s behavior and habits. While it was fun sending the photos to friends and family, the results were never quite what she was after.
She began experimenting again with cyanotype and then serendipitously received an email regarding an online class on cyanotype and albumen with Jill Enfield, with whom she had previously studied. The inspiration from the class and the input from Jill and the other students, gave Debbie the support and inspiration to experiment and explore a variety of processes, papers, types of negatives, sources of light and toners. She continues to explore nature photography, past photographs, and alternative processes and develop her skills and vision.
The photographs, Robin and Cuetzalan #1, are toned cyanotypes. Both were digital color photos converted to digital negatives adjusted for cyanotype and then printed on regular copy paper. The back of the paper negative was then coated with beeswax to make transparent. These paper negatives were printed using a very old vacuum light box on Hahnemuhle Sumi-e, a paper for Japanese ink painting, which had been coated with cyanotype. The prints were then toned for 5 minutes using combination of yerba mate and tannic acid, a recipe from Serge Shvedenko published in Jill Enfield’s Guide to Photographic Alternative Processes.