Anna Atkins Cyanotypographer

23rd June 2016

I’m not even sure if that is a word, but it is definitely a process. Anna Atkins has carved quite a name out for herself in history. Perhaps the first female photographer, Anna was born to a very scientific family. Her dad, John Children, actually had a butterfly named after him.

Anna Atkins Cyanotype

The process she loved so much was Cyanotype, light sensitive paper and a bit of chemistry (ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide) meant that if you lay an object on this paper in the sun you would be left with an eerie blue print with a white silhouette.

Anna Atkins Algae Cyanotype

Anna’s fascination was with botany, in particular with algae and she produced a book called Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843), all hand written with just 13 copies known to exist.

She knew about this process through meeting two quite influential men, William Henry Fox Talbot the photographic pioneer, and Sir John Herschel who had invented the Cyanotype in 1842.

Anna Atkins Algae Cyanotype

I am drawn to the intense Prussian blue and the fluid shapes of her subjects. Such a simple process to preserve the numerous plant life hidden beneath the waves.

Sources here and here.

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