Photo of the Week: Blue Prints and Blueprints

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This week marks my seventh anniversary at the Carter, so our Photo of the Week comes from an exhibition that was installed when I first arrived here in the summer of 2002, Out of the Blue: Cyanotypes from the Permanent Collection.

Cyanotype is a process that basically produces a monochromatic image like any other black-and-white photograph, but the chemicals used in the process produce a blue-and-white photograph. The process was invented in the 1840s and was used for certain applications, such as blueprints, for the next century because the process was cheap and easy – only requiring sunlight, water, and two chemicals. You can make your own cyanotypes quite easily by purchasing pre-treated photosensitive paper or fabric from art supply stores, or making your own. I've used the pre-treated fabric to make photograms in the backyard and can attest that it's pretty fun.

Without further ado, one of the 102 cyanotypes in the Carter's permanent collection:


Frederick A. Greenleaf, [Men in wagon fording stream running between low hills], cyanotype, 1877-1885

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